I had the privilege of interviewing one of the great voices in the web design world today. Roger Johansson, 456bereastreet.com, is a Swedish web professional specialising in web standards, accessibility, and usability. Enjoy!
Tell us a little bit about yourself, background and what you are currently doing.
I've been working with the web and other interactive media since 1994. For the last ten years or so I've focused on front-end web development, including usability and accessibility. I currently work as a front-end web developer at Swedish web consultancy NetRelations.
How did you get involved in the whole standards and accessibility mindset with regards to the web?
As a Mac user I got sick of constantly being discriminated against, particularly on the web which is meant to be platform agnostic. Back in the 1990's it was quite common for Mac users to be actively prevented from accessing web sites and get an insulting "Upgrade your browser. Download Internet Explorer." message in your face.
When I heard of the Web Standards Project I immediately felt that it was the right way to go. Accessibility is an extension of that - the web should be platform agnostic and be usable regardless of any disabilities you might have.
I recently noticed that you are also involved with DOMAssistant. When did this come to be and what is your role in the project?
I read an article by Jonathan Snook on snook.ca regarding CSS reset, what is your thoughts? Do you use CSS reset and is there a specific CSS reset you use or do you have your own adaptation?
I also read that article and see his point. I don't have a very strong opinion either way on this, though I do use my own CSS reset adaptation in most projects. It's worked well for me but I have no problem with people who do not want to use a CSS reset. It's up to everyone to decide together with the people they work with.
From your RSS feed you seem to very quiet lately, why is that? Wanna share :)
Yeah I know I've been pretty quiet lately. Once family and work have taken their time and energy there hasn't been much left for writing. I'm going to stay quiet for a while since I will be on parental leave and vacation for a few months.
What's your feelings on the current state of the web with regards to standards and accesibility awareness by developers?
Well, it's certainly better than say five years ago, but there's still a long long way to go until the majority of web developers know and care about web standards and accessibility. The widespread ignorance and unwillingness to learn that I see in the web industry is depressing.
How do you see this evolving and what are your hopes?
Predicting the future is not one of my best skills, so I'll skip that part. What I'm hoping is that people will continue to learn about standards and accessibility, and how using best practices really helps you and your colleagues. I also hope that more CMS and Web application vendors, especially at the enterprise level, start employing front-end developers who know what they are doing.
Any thoughts you want to leave the readers with?
Keep learning, keep sharing your knowledge, and think twice before taking a shortcut that will shut out or inconvenience people.
I have to end with this question, me being from Pretoria and all :) , What do remember about your days from the real 456 Berea Street?
Hehe :-) . I remember lots of sunny days and the beautiful jacaranda trees.