time for some focus?

what we have seen in the last few months is a steady momentum of designers saying fuck you to the limitations of cross-browser compatibility.
a critical mass of browser and device support has created a battlefield of experimentation with the emphasis being on the new and exciting opportunities rather than limitations of cross-browser design.

extremely talented designers are now doing things that could only be achieved in Flash six months ago and the results are both beautiful and engaging
as Andy Clarke has repeatedly advocated, this hardboiled or top-down approach places emphasis on the potential experiences that we can provide with CSS3, and goes beyond the embellishment for those that can ideology of progressive enhancement.

however the one concern i have from many of these is the emphasis that is being placed on hover states and interactions.
i’m not talking here about good ol’ graceful degradation – giving a simpler yet functional site for those with older or less capable browsers/devices.
i’m talking about users who are using the latest browsers but are tied to or prefer to use alternative input devices.

one of my pet hates in web design is when you see fantastically designed sites that fail to consider focus states on links or inputs.
i’m not disabled but i very often use my keyboard for navigating websites. it’s what i’m used to. if i tab round your page and i can’t see where i am it pisses me off.
its simple. where you have :hover just add a :focus

however the opportunities that css3 offers – especially with webkit transforms – now presents new problems for accessibility and usability.
so, don’t stop experimenting. keep making your websites fun and engaging. keep pushing the envelope.
but make sure that whilst pursuing aggressive degradation in these beautiful new websites of yours that you consider those that may have the latest shit-hot browsers but might not be using them in the way you expect them to.

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Hey Cole, I totally agree with you on this. I think that it is a hugely exciting time to be a web designer and a great time to experiment, but not at the expense of usability. Being able to create fantastic effects is not an excuse to use them all the time.