The Human Remote Control

A friend of mine recently posted a saying to FaceBook stating, “If I were meant to be controlled, I would come with a remote.” At first glance I laughed along with it and then the analytical brain kicked in and wanted to create a bigger picture behind the quote.

The Brain’s Robotic Tendencies


A human computer is attached by a cable to a box © Cristi Jenkins Creations

I hate to break this to you, but humans do come with a built-in remote control. It is called cognitive and social biases. These biases cause humans to make connections to things that really may have no relation to each other and to frame what goes on in life to support what we want to see as our reality. Once one understands how these biases work, human behavior becomes quite predictable. Continue reading

Creating Web Content for the Disabled: A Call to Compassionate Action

Web Accessibility for the Disabled

As we all know, optimal web design requires accommodating sites for those with disabilities. Guidelines exist under the Americans With Disabilities Act to enhance the disabled ability to access web content.

Writing Beyond Profit

According to the CDC, millions of people are considered functionally disabled in the United States.  See the statistics. Over the course of my studies in web technology, design experts frequently encouraged making websites more accessible for the disabled. The motivating factor, however, usually centered on  the bottom line–you reach more people; you sell more products. You make more money.

The authors of respected publications emphasize that collectively, the disabled have millions of dollars to spend. Thus, in viable business models, it make good sense to target all consumers with disposable incomes. Experts offer the motivational carrot of increased profits to encourage making web content more accessible to the disabled. Yet, there exists a greater reason for paying attention to accessibility issues than just gleaning more money from this segment of the population. Continue reading

Cognitive Biases, Websites, and Language

Our brains have their favored ways of perceiving life. Our perceptions are often inaccurate. These skewed perceptions are called cognitive and social biases. We all fall prey to their pervasive influences. I have always wondered just how much our cognitive patterns effect how we consume a website.

Brain Preferences

A human computer is attached by a cable to a box © Cristi Jenkins CreationsThe human brain likes things to be predictable and comfortable. This cognitive bias is a main reason why humans tend to approach things in life the same way over and over again.

Our brains also predispose us to be creatures of habit. As such, I suggest that these patterns can also apply to how we approach websites. When we encounter patterns that are familiar to us, our brains can more easily make sense of them. Continue reading