Monday, July 13, 2009

Hey Web Developers! Do You Think About Online Safety In Your Work?

Are you in the business of developing websites? Do you think about online safety when developing your site? You should. If you don't care about the safety and happiness of your entire audience then law or government might step in... If I was a web entrepreneur, a developer, or any type of investor with a stake in any web business, then online safety (a great user experience) would be my #1 priority.

What do I mean about online safety? Its more than identity theft, phishing, or cyber bullying. I'm talking about the entire world of the internet and all of your particpation in that world, and how this affects everybody else. Online safety includes things like; ease of use, clear simple communication, effective customer support, and avoiding over commercialization. (If Jonathan Adelstein is complainging about "relentless and excessive commercialization" on the web then you know it's already a problem which is getting addressed)

This past month I had the privilege to design an online report for the NCTA. There is a good amount of free user research to be found here in the PointSmart.ClickSafe. Task Force Recommendations for best practices for child online safety. Both in these 2008 task force summit videos, and in the Best Practice Reccomendations report itself.


Here's what it's about:
Google, Verizon, Others in New Child Safety Push
By Kenneth Corbin - Internetnews.com

WASHINGTON -- A far-ranging coalition of IT and telecom firms, advocacy organizations and other stakeholders this morning unveiled a broad set of recommendations for how to protect children online. The new report from the Point Safe, Click Smart task force calls for a lax regulatory approach, emphasizing the importance of educating children and their parents about online safety. The task force, which was spearheaded by the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA), drew on a diverse group of participants, including Yahoo, Symantec and the National Parent Teacher Association.
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My complaint about the internet industry - Too many times I've worked in too many offices which were more like a frat house than an office. In these web workplaces, I've sat around idly while managers & clients alike have made assumptions about their audiences, assumptions that all their users are most likely a bunch of guys like themselves. I have seen some hilariously wrong thinking get pushed into mainstream websites all erroneously in the name of "more pageviews". Worst of all, a lot of web developers harbor a lazy attitude that creating products that work for everyone is just not a priority. Please, guys, no more lazy, narrow assumptions.