I won’t attempt to cover everything that happened at codethecity 2 here. It’s well documented on the tumblr and on the main codethecity website. The github page has all the code, and the repo README files do a great job of giving you a quick overview of each project.
I do have something to add though.
Accessibility matters. We all know that. Not enough of us keep that front and centre during our day jobs. Many of us see it as a chore. An after thought. Something to be ‘dealt with’.
One of the projects this weekend was getting on fine. It was a project to make it easier for people to find appropriate sports and exercise activities called fitlike.
They had a nice concept, some insights into how people need to find activities using useful (rather than easy to implement) categorisation, a plan around data and API usage, they had the beginnings of a UI, and they had put a demo together of how the look and feel could pull things together.
The designer on their team was looking a little less engaged with the challenge towards the end of the Saturday so I had a word. He felt he’d kicked the ball about as far as he could. The rest of the team needed to catch up. The design largely solved the problems they had. That challenge was over – now it was all about implementation.
We had a chat about accessibility.
About the challenge faced by people with limited motor skills. The challenges faced by people with brain damage, or learning difficulties, or visual impairment. We had a chat about the simple things we can do to make the UI more accessible for these groups.
We had a chat about how this can impact their quality of life. How this had potential to directly make their day better. How using a larger button, with an icon, and a distinct colour could potentially make their day better.
I’ve had designers react to this with a shrug, and a complaint that it’ll be impossible to make it also look pretty. They start working on an alternative UI for ‘them’.
This weekend the reaction was all about the excitement of realising that possibility. The challenge of making someones day a bit better through design. The challenge of making the whole experience suited to ‘everyone’ rather than making concessions to ‘them’.
Within a couple of hours on a Saturday night the project had taken a huge leap towards that goal.
We had icons that made things more visual than drop downs. We had transport considerations front and centre. We had accessibility options on an equal footing with other options, and presented in the same way – not as an apologetic bolt on.
There is work to be done, but there is a clear vision, a clear desire to achieve it, and the team are embracing the challenge.
Exciting. I can’t wait for the next Codethecity.