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Fixing the City of Palo Alto site

Over the weekend, I spent a little time to fix up the Web site for the City of Palo Alto.  But they didn't hire me.  You see, they just released a huge new redesigned site a few weeks ago, and it has most residents in an uproar.  And a lot of the problems revolve around usability – tiny fonts, dim colors, etc.  This is stuff that can be changed with a good browser, even if the site owner doesn't want to fix it himself.  So when I saw that fixes did not manifest after a lengthy wait, I thought I'd see what fixes I could impose.  Here's an example of a change:



(I tried to make links easier to use all-around.  Many links were dull green in tiny text, and now they are bigger and brighter.  In this particular case, I've added PDF icons where appropriate.)

So how'd I do this, if they didn't hire me?  Did I hack into their site?  Should I be arrested?

The answer is, I used Greasemonkey.  It's a Firefox plugin.  It allows the browser to change pages once you've downloaded them.  So, for example, if you're visiting Google's site, and you'd prefer that all the text be in bright purple, Greasemonkey could make that change.  It doesn't affect Google itself.  It only affects your copy of the page that you downloaded.  No one else sees what you've changed.

Of course, for most people with disabilities, this is a godsend.  If a site has tiny text or dull colors or rigid layouts that won't display correctly, Greasemonkey can fix it.  And that's precisely the kind of fixing that the Palo Alto Web site needs.  If you've got Firefox & Greasemonkey, you should head over to the page I put together for this, and download my script.  I'll keep that page updated with the lastest version.

You can also get to the page from my side navigation links – it's the Palo Alto Greasemonkey link, under the software heading.

(Also, it was pretty fun to put that Greasemonkey script together.  I had to learn a lot of geeky JavaScript DOM manipulation that I'd never done before.  I'm a more competent developer because of it.  Yay.)


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Comments (3)
ekb writes:

I've been looking for a greasemonkey script / extension / whatever - that let's me set the fonts and colors **per site**.

Options > Content > Fonts & Colors > Colors
Options > Content > Fonts & Colors > Advanced
on a per site basis

I've had absolutely no luck at all.If you are aware of something - please email me.

Tony writes:

Hi ekb. What you want actually already exists, built into the browser. Here's a link:


Hi would you mind letting me know which web host you're using?
I've loaded your blog in 3 completely different web browsers and I must
say this blog loads a lot faster then most.
Can you suggest a good web hosting provider at a reasonable price?
Thanks, I appreciate it!

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