So I was just thinking about this. Some things related to stuff I am supposed to do at work. One of the things I do is to give general advice about web accessibility. This got me thinking about the actual implementation of this from a general user standpoint, accessibility standpoint, and an adpative technology standpoint. If you know anything about the leter two you will know that they can overlap, or considered basically the same. I will try to break them down as best as I can.
General User: What I am getting at is how Google Talk works in a browser. Will it be something inside that window, or will each conversation be it a new window like normal Instant Message clients these days. This next part could be tied to accessibility. But let’s say all these are in your Gmail window. If an user has a number of conversations going, will that clutter up the whole screen if it’s in-browser.
Accessibility: How accessible will this be? Will our friends at W3C be happy? In the past people who knew shortcut keys were considered know-it-alls and the sort. Now these shortcuts have been promoted more and more, so now the average user knows more than just control + a,b,c,p,q,v. So having Gmail having hotkeys, just exposes it more. I am one of those users that rarely users the mouse, so will I be able to switch between my e-mail and a conversation without touching my mouse? I wouldn’t like having to grab the mouse to change.
Adaptive Technology: So we all love this AJAX and Web 2.0 stuff, no extra loading, slick transitions and such. But what about people that use such programs like ZoomText or Jaws® for Windows®. ZoomText allows parts of the screen to be zoomed in on from 1x magnification to 36x. Now don’t say that’s a waste because some people with really low vision need it huge. So if I had 5x magnication and somebody had to switch using a mouse, that may be quite troublesome. Especially if conversations get auto-focus. That means the cursor automatically gets moved to the reply field after a person says hello to you. Jaws® for Windows® is the top, or one of the top, screen readers for users that are blind. Some applications Jaws had troubles with reading certain elements. Read: Hence why Flash is a no-no.
I was all excited about Google Talk in Gmail, but then I thought about some things, and got curious to see what happens. Hopefully this will be a cool add-on to Gmail, and not just something people push aside.