Inclusive design the key to Twitter's survival?

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Tuesday, 15 December 2009 11:28am

What will determine the future success of social media players? A report by Media Access Australia suggests that players such as Twitter will have to focus on inclusive and accessible design to continue their meteoric rise.

In the fast-moving world of technology, innovation is the key to success. Media Access Australia's Social Media Review, which looks at six of the most popular social media sites including Twitter, MySpace and Facebook, suggests a key innovation indicator is accessibility to people with disabilities. It could even determine success or failure.

People with disabilities make up a significant part of the market for social media, and are forecast to steadily increase as our population ages. They number approximately 5 million Australians and up to 57% of the US population. Clearly social media players ignore this market at their peril.

'What our study suggests is that social media players or savvy tech entrepreneurs might concern themselves less with the logo and colour scheme or the latest technology plug-in, and instead ensure that their system is accessible to all, and therefore usable by all,' said Martin Cahill, who produced the review. 'The example of Apple in the hardware and software arena demonstrates how accessibility can result in huge usability innovations for all users."

Facebook recently worked with the American Federation of the Blind to make its site accessible to the blind and vision impaired. While Facebook's growth has probably peaked, it maintains its position as the most popular social media tool, used by 350 million people globally.

By contrast, MySpace continues its downward spiral. The Social Media Review suggests that this is symptomatic of its inability to innovate and introduce its product to new audiences. Despite calls to improve the accessibility of its site, MySpace has responded with neither innovation nor action.

Twitter has great potential for people with disabilities, but needs some work to be completely accessible. Will Twitter take up the challenge? The review suggests this may be the key to continuing its meteoric rise.


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