Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB)

The story so far
Last Updated 19 July 20:22

Before the 26th June the RNIB relaunched their website using a new accessible website design. Unfortunately their adherence to web standards was close to non-existant - tables were being used for layout and prestation. The design was heavily criticised by a number of web designers, including myself.

The RNIB have taken the criticisms aboard and have recently published a reply. As part of the reply, my original demonstration of the RNIB design done as CSS was critiqued, bringing to the surface a valid point:

"On our site, when the browser window gets too small, a left/right scroll bar appears - not ideal, yes, but at least items don't start to slide over each other, so that users miss out on information."

Its a valid point, however it is not a failing of CSS that caused this particular problem. The source of this problem is me. I'm fallable, and I admit I rushed the job. As a demonstration that CSS isn't the material reason for the criticism, I've produced a second iteration of the RNIB design.

My second iteration (Zip file 11Kb) is based around the use of floats instead of absolute positioning. That way when the content doesn't have enough room left to display, it gets pushed down the page until there is room. Absolute positioning is layers based, so this allows layers to slide over each other when there's not enough room. Floats don't have this problem.

I also took advantage of Simon Willison's idea of getting the sidebar background colour to run the full length of the page. My second iteration is much improved over the first, and the document structure hasn't been sacrificed. What has been sacrificed, however, is the benefits of front-loading the content. The content is now the last structure in the document. As a result, the usage of skip navigation links in now required.

I appreciate the time taken by the RNIB to address the issues surrounding the website, and the critique they've publish in regards to my effort. Its certainly a learning experience for me.

Other UK designers have redone the RNIB using webstandards (and they are certainly better than my efforts!):