Current Events: IE7 and Google

In the past week a couple things sprouted up that sparked my interest. They involve two pretty major aspects of any developers daily life: Google and Internet Explorer.

Microsoft and Internet Explorer 7

As you probably already know Microsoft announced that IE7 will be distributed via Automatic Updates. This is great and all, and I don’t want to sound crude, but does it really matter that much? Developers knew we had to aim for IE7 as soon as the “layout complete” beta was released. We were advised to begin testing our sites the moment that happened.

The fact that IE7 will be distributed using Automatic Updates is a good thing, don’t get me wrong. But it’s not that good. Personally I think it’s going to be a long time before IE6 can be a forgotten nightmare, so the only thing this means to me is: be sure your sites are IE7 compatible now. Be sure to test, and test again, and when adjustments must be made, take conditional comments into consideration.

Google’s Accessibility Search

I’m a huge fan of Roger Johansson and I first read about a new Google search algorithm in testing on 456 Berea Street. This new Google algorithm actually takes accessibility into consideration when ranking search results. Basically, Google Accessible Search will prioritize search results not only on their organic ranking, but their accessibility features as well. Personally, I think this is just awesome of Google.

Google’s Markup Continues

On the other hand, Roger brings up something that came to my mind also:

“All is not good though. I am disappointed, but not really surprised, that Google Accessible Search itself doesn’t exactly provide a shining example of accessible or standards based web design. How about paying someone for a few hours of HTML + CSS coding to fix that, Google? The cost will be unnoticeable to you and you will set a good example.”

It’s a shame that Google stuck with their usual practices by ignoring standard and valid markup. It seems a bit hypocritical to me that a search service that concentrates on accessibility features is poorly marked up. At least the search page isn’t using a tabular layout, but font tags? Google can do better than that.

Helping Visual Impairment is Accessibility?

Taking a look at the Accessible Search FAQ opens up another door. The only impairment discussed is vision. I’m not sure why the word ‘accessibility’ is constantly thought of as making your site more usable for people who have a visual impairment. Given, it may be quite prominent as far as accessibility is concerned, but it isn’t the end all be all.

All in all, I think this is a really positive step, and who better from than Google? I’m hoping to keep a close eye on this project and see what’s really going on with the results. It will be interesting to see what Google puts the most weight on. Do they take visual element color contrast into consideration? How great would it be if something like this were added to the organic Google search in the future?