Rule-Based Usability And Accessibility Testing Tool
LIFT - NN/g
= interesting, promising
$ 299 - 549
Web Accessibility has become an important consideration for many Web designers of late.
In the US government-affiliated sites must conform to Section 508 accessibility guidelines, while the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) has produced its own set of guidelines for all Web designers.
There are a lot of usability guidelines to remember, especially in the area of helping users with disabilities. Because designers typically don't have any accessibility problems themselves, it is easy for them to forget some of the guidelines in the heat of developing new pages.
The main benefit of this software is that it analyzes your design while you develop it, so that you don't have to remember to consider accessibility as a separate step. The software is fully integrated as an extension to Macromedia Dreamweaver so any time you make a change to the design, it will check the usability of the new components placed on a page.
The software does most of the work for you. As you code web pages in Dreamweaver, the software:
a) checks the pages for possible violations of the usability guidelines,
b) alerts you to any problems,
c) where possible it fixes the problems for you,
d) shows you an explanation of the relevant usability or accessibility guideline.
This usability software works with Macromedia Dreamweaver (4.0 or MX) on both Windows and Macintosh.
The code was developed by UsableNet and includes checks for technical accessibility (Section 508 and W3C rules) in addition to usability guidelines.
Every time there is a dubious element in your design, you get a link to the relevant guideline and explanations to help you determine whether to keep or change the element that was flagged.
This is not a new approach but one utilized in several interesting products. First and foremost I must recall Qwest Profiler which opened a whole new way of looking at Web sites usability issues with an elegantly designed application (see X-ray, test, analyze and map visually any web site).
A Dreamweaver extension, LIFT - NN/g adds a palette of dockable windows to the program. These windows let you check your work for accessibility problems in one of two ways:
1) Evaluate mode: this mode lets you run a check of one or more pages (or your entire site), and correct any problems in a handy wizard that offers to explain each usability problem in detail.
2) Monitor mode: this works just like the Evaluate mode, but it monitors your work in real time instead of checking it all at once. Problems are pointed out to you as you make them in an unobtrusive list.
The set of guidelines that LIFT - NN/g checks is completely configurable. You can selectively enable and disable individual guidelines, select sets of guidelines (W3C, 508, usability, etc.), or create your own custom sets. Custom sets of guidelines can be saved and copied to other computers, which makes LIFT - NN/g ideal for coordinating accessibility guidelines between members of a design team.
Availability and pricing:
a) LIFT - NN/g is available now for US$549 from UsableNet's Web site.
b) LIFT for Macromedia Dreamweaver (which checks W3C and Section 508 accessibility only, and lacks a few of the more advanced wizards of LIFT - NN/g) is available for US$299.
c) LIFT for Microsoft Frontpage is also available for US$299.
See the screenshots at:
For more information on the topics if usability and accessibility see also:
-> What is accessibility?
-> Beyond Accessibility: Treating Users with Disabilities as People
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