Site Launch: American Airlines Credit Union

Posted in Accessibility, News, Web Standards

Screenshot of the American Airlines Credit Union WebsiteWell, it’s been quite a while since my last post. What can I say, I’ve been busy! In most ways that’s a good thing. We’ve been working on 3 projects, one of which finally launched just a short time ago. So, without further delay, I do hereby announce the launch of the newly redesigned site for the American Airlines Credit Union.This site is the second of four sites in which I’ve been pushing myself (and the client) in a more standards-centric and accessible direction. I’m not quite to the point of building completely table-free sites, but I’m getting much closer with each project.The challenging aspect of this project is that we delivered only a handful of completed pages and a big set of empty page shells. We left the rest of the development to the client (who almost exclusively relies on Dreamweaver’s “Design View” to produce his code). All in all, I’m very proud of his work. In spite of his repeated claim that he’s a novice, I think he’s done a great job of stepping up to the plate and taking on a huge chunk of the development effort by himself. There are so many things to do in completing a site from start to finish and I’m fully aware of how difficult that can be if you’re by yourself. Hopefully my admittedly infrequent phone call assistance was helpful. If only there was more time…So, take a look and let me know what you think. This was my first project where I didn’t have nearly complete control of the build phase. I’ll be the first to admit that I was a bit nervous… until I saw the final product. Now I’m quite pleased with how it all turned out. Here’s to clients who are understanding, patient, and supportive! Couldn’t we all use more of them in this world?!On a technical note:This site uses semantic HTML 4.01 Transitional (for the greatest flexibility as well as comfort level for the client). Most of the presentational elements (except for some minimal layout tables) are handled by CSS. I’ve tried to include as many accessibility enhancements as possible. However, I’ve noticed that the client hasn’t quite grasped the proper use of ALT text on most of the photographs throughout the site. Oh, well… I’ll have a talk with him on the next project I guess.I was also overruled on the handling of the dropdown listboxes in the upper-right corner of each page (the ones labeled I want to… and Tell me about…). I prefer to use JavaScript in a more unobtrusive manner where the user actually selects the submit button to submit a form. Like I said, I was overruled on this one… so they auto-redirect once the first item in the list is selected. If you’re using a mouse and can click the down-arrow, then select an item from the list, this isn’t a problem. However, this poses difficulties for keyboard users, screen readers and other assistive devices since the first item in the list is the only item that can be selected before the form is submitted. Now, wouldn’t that be frustrating if that happened to you?On a more positive note, the site is easily navigable by use of the expanding and collapsing navigation along the left edge of each page. I was extremely happy that the client was willing to maintain my ASP include file so that the navigation is displayed properly throughout the site. It’s built with a series of nested unordered lists and can look a bit intimidating at first glance. He struggled with it a little at first, but did a great job of keeping it consistent and accurate.He does seem to love popup windows. Alas, that’s a discussion for another day.I also just remembered that I hadn’t quite grasped the proper use of resizable fonts as of this project (which started many months ago). In the style sheet, I specified the fonts in pixel units instead of em units. So, Internet Explorer users won’t be able to resize the main text of the site. Users with current versions of Firefox, Opera, Netscape and Safari shouldn’t have a problem resizing the text (these browsers handle text resizing in a different way than Internet Explorer). For those visually impaired users who prefer Internet Explorer, I apologize for this mistake. Live and learn, right?