The Accessibility Benefits of CSS’s Prefers-Reduced-Data

For quite some time now, my perspective has been that utilising games to foster team spirit is a highly effective approach. Partaking in interactive activities such as video or board games promotes the cultivation of communication and analytical abilities.

As a result of the pandemic, we have relocated our board games to the virtual realm of the internet. There is a plethora of options available for online gameplay, ranging from simple browser-based programmes to fully-realised 3D simulations of tables. After reviewing various options, we have decided to experiment with a widely-used JavaScript table design from recent years.

Initially, the software seemed to possess all the necessary features that our tech-savvy team desired. However, a colleague from a separate department (James) approached us for collaboration, but unfortunately, his part of the web application was malfunctioning. He had to refresh the page several times before an image would appear.

Following several attempts, we discovered that James’ internet connection was unsteady. Even a small amount of packet loss caused the web app to malfunction. Despite this game being ideal for our requirements, we ultimately decided not to move forward with it.

No matter how state-of-the-art our product or service is, you are losing out on potential sales opportunities if it is unable to reach your desired audience.

There Are Various Types Of Users

Now, you may be wondering, how is CSS related to our gaming challenges?

Currently, the typical size of desktop and mobile web pages is around 1.9MB and 2MB, respectively. These figures reflect a 40% rise in size when compared to the statistics from 2023, as mentioned in this blog post. This trend is projected to persist as online platforms become more involved and feature-packed.

Individuals with restricted data allowances or slow/unstable internet and mobile networks may not perceive a 10 Mbps speed increase as significant. Nevertheless, these limitations may hinder their ability to fully utilise the enhanced speed.

If a user has a 1GB data limit per month, they can typically browse approximately 500 pages before they surpass their limit. This is assuming that their browsing data is not saved in the cache, which would be the least favourable scenario.

It is clear that the majority of people nowadays are making use of social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, and Twitter. Applications that have live feeds, streaming services, image-based websites and dynamic content use a lot of data, which becomes a limitation of the 1GB data cap.

This scenario highlights a significant problem. In areas where internet bandwidth is restricted, there is fierce competition for resources, with major corporations like Facebook competing for the same access. Eventually, the amount of data will become a crucial factor when trying to enter these markets.

Accessibility Equals Diversity of Choices for Us.

Given this problem, web designers often create websites that consume less data. However, there is only so much they can do to reduce the amount before the product quality is negatively affected.

Choosing the alternative does not mean implementing strict austerity measures or resorting to old-fashioned web design techniques used when dial-up was prevalent. The ideal solution is to empower the user with the option of selecting the content they want to access.

The CSS `prefers-reduced-data` media query can be configured as `reduce` or `no-preference` to specify whether the query should be triggered if data has been lowered. Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) are employed to adjust the visual aspect of a document, and are utilised to plan items such as text, images, and animations for web usage (though this generally involves the use of JavaScript).

The `prefers-reduced-data` query aids in comprehending the user’s preferred interaction with the system. Armed with this information, you can develop two distinct aesthetics, one for individuals who consume copious amounts of data and another for those who prefer a more straightforward experience.

The effectiveness of this approach is rooted in the extent of independence it grants to users. It allows them to dictate how they want to engage with your offerings, thereby attaining sovereignty over their own lives.

The Goal of Developing for Accessibility

It is crucial to take into account the potential impact the design may have on individuals who use wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, and other mobility aids, as disabled people frequently face marginalisation.

It is crucial to acknowledge that the repercussions of new technologies transcend physical or psychological problems, and that we must reflect on the societal context in which they are created. The divergence between various societies is becoming more apparent, as some individuals require hours to download 2GB of data, while others can do so in mere seconds.

It is important to bear in mind that enhancing the processing power and data usage of the product could dissuade users with restricted resources from utilising it. Whenever feasible, steps should be taken to ensure that the product remains accessible to everyone.

Regarding the matter of favouring decreased data consumption, it is not always accurate to assume that creating two versions of a project would be more time-consuming. For data consumption, the most effective method is to design the lightweight version initially, as it will serve as the fundamental experience. Subsequently, added features and improvements can be integrated on top of this foundation.

The end outcome is the product that you envisaged, with the added benefit of possessing a version that is easily accessible to individuals from diverse backgrounds.

Developing an accessible web project entails more than simply being cognisant of data. To produce products that have the potential to attract a broad range of individuals, it is vital to have a comprehensive perspective and comprehension of individual differences.

Developers often make two common accessibility errors:

  • Relying exclusively on third-party solutions for accessibility features should be avoided, as several operating systems have some built-in tools. Nevertheless, these may not be appropriate for every situation. Therefore, developers should be cognisant of these resources to ensure that they can customise their programmes effectively.
  • Several developers produce an exceptional product that contains a variety of accessibility settings. However, they may position the relevant controls in a drop-down menu or at the bottom of the page, which could make it challenging for the user to locate the features intended to assist them.

Why Do We Go Through This?

As society progresses, convenient access to resources is becoming more crucial. People have become more mindful of their own requirements, and the notion that one-size-fits-all solutions are no longer applicable has been embraced by the world. As a result, technology is being produced to accommodate the needs of a diverse populace.

Moreover, there are several overlooked consumers who could derive advantages from products and services that cater to their preferences. Streaming services like Netflix are attempting to entice customers from the more established and competitive markets of the US and Europe by investing in emerging regions such as Latin America.

Designing products that are accessible to everyone is designing products for the future.

Join the Top 1% of Remote Developers and Designers

Works connects the top 1% of remote developers and designers with the leading brands and startups around the world. We focus on sophisticated, challenging tier-one projects which require highly skilled talent and problem solvers.
seasoned project manager reviewing remote software engineer's progress on software development project, hired from Works blog.join_marketplace.your_wayexperienced remote UI / UX designer working remotely at home while working on UI / UX & product design projects on Works blog.join_marketplace.freelance_jobs