Here’s a wonderful reminder from Stephanie Stimac about web performance. She writes about a recent experience of moving to an area with an unreliable network and how this caused problems for her as she tried to figure out what was happening during a power blackout:
Assuming all of your customers are living the same life, with the same privilege, with the same access to fast internet and data is the quickest way to ensure you’re excluding some of them and not providing the same level of service the rest get. It’s most likely not even happening intentionally, bias is inherent in us all in some way or another. Bias based on location is something I hadn’t considered before my experience on a subpar network due to where I live.
But if you’re providing a service or utility that is essential to a large portion of your community, it’s important to take a step back and assess your user experience from a different perspective.
Stephanie also makes note of how NPR has a text-only version of their website so that it’s still possible to access information on the worst possible network connections. CNN does something quite similar.
And doesn’t this go beyond web performance? At the core, this is an accessibility issue as well and yet another example of how hard it is to make accessible sites.