Buzzword

by Joe Gillespie — Mar 1, 2002

'Accessibility' is another of those buzzwords being used a lot in Web design circles these days, what does it really mean? Everybody has his or her own ideas about accessibility but to me, it's all about 'design'.

The word 'design', in its proper sense, means making something better suited for its intended purpose. A well-designed car will take you from A to B, (and hopefully back again), with the minimum of fuss. This is totally regardless of what the car looks like. It could be an ugly, imitation wood-grain bedecked station wagon or a sleek, shiny sports car. If it does its job well, it is 'well designed.'

Unsightly as it might be, the station wagon is actually a better solution for getting a family of five, their luggage and the two dogs from A to B than any two-seater sports car. What the car looks like is a matter of its 'styling'. When it comes down to it, styling is a marketing ploy. Like fashion, it changes with the seasons - it is ephemeral. It is a way of selling you the same thing over and over again. As a selling aid, it is nothing to do with 'design' other than in helping to fulfil the requirement that the car be attractive and desirable in the eyes of potential customers - and thus more sellable.

So, 'design' and 'styling' are two entirely separate things. In many cases, you need some of both.

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