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.