Inclusion beats optimizationPosted on
When you're building something and you're moving fast, make sure to look back every now and then. Check if everybody is on board before moving further. Make sure to include people every step of the way. Accessibility has priority over other issues
You start using a new product (hurray). You encounter an accessibility issue (meh). You can report it in a repository (hurray). A helpful maintainer labels it (hurray). They tag it as a "feature request" or "enhancement" (ohno). You have to convince them it's an actual bug (meh).
It sounds like a terrible customer journey map, but this often happens with accessibility issues. People don't recognize them as bugs.
Issues and open source
Open source is great. People make something. They share not just the result, but also the work behind it (the open source code). Often this is shared in an open place (a repository). If you want something changed, you can work on the code yourself (hopefully). Another option is to leave a message for the maintainer or another friendly person, and they might help you out. We call these messages issues, and they're often labelled to keep things a bit organised (and not too chaotic).
Feature requests and enhancements
Issues in the category with the least rush are often called Feature requests or Enhancements. It's when you've got an idea for something the software doesn't do yet. Sometimes it's a new functionality. Sometimes it makes it more fun or efficient to use. It's not like you can't use it at all, but it could be better. It could be enhanced.
Talking as a former product owner: these issues don't have the highest priority. They're more nice-to-haves than emergencies. You can put them on the todo-list (the backlog) but you'll get to them in due time. It's even better to not rush into creating too many new features. Often new features also introduce more bugs.
Bugs are a different category of issues. When something is broken or flawed, then it's a bug. A product might crash. It might be uninstallable. Unlike feature requests or enhancements, this type of issues are unintentional mistakes. The product is broken and unfinished. Bugs need to be fixed and have the highest priority.
In large organisations, a lot of focus can be put on enhancements. The customer needs to stay on our pages longer! More feedback forms need to be filled! We need more newsletter-subscriptions!
Everything is focussed on conversion rates. More customers. More sales. More money. Optimize until you've got the sleekest and best-selling journey for your customers. (And make sure to do it cheap)
Forget about optimization. You need to do accessibility first.
When there's an accessibility issue, you're excluding people. It doesn't mean a group of people doesn't buy as much as you'd like. It means a group of people can't buy at all. They're not a tad slow in completing your customer journey. They can't even finish your customer journey.
Optimization is about being best in class. It's about being the best option for people. But if you have accessibility issues, then you're not even an option to begin with. People do not choose a competitor over you. They have no choice when you're not an option to begin with.
Where does that leave us?
If you can pick between a feature and a fix: please choose a fix. Don't optimize for some people when you're not including everybody yet.
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