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Text is better

One of the conversations I regularly have folks is to avoid creating a video for something if you haven’t written an article about it.

Video content can be great! Being able to see how someone does something and follow along is a useful learning approach for some people.

But text is more accessible, easier to update later, better for SEO, and can be skimmed for quick reference later. In an ideal world, you want both, but if you have to pick one, text should win every time.

I was reminded of my “text is better” motto this morning when I read this Twitter thread from my friend Eric Bailey about CSS-only icons.

Saw a CSS-only weather icon set making the rounds. It’s incredibly impressive from a technical perspective. It’s also inaccessible. What you can do about that requires human intervention.

If you already have text that communicates the weather condition in addition to the presence of the icon, great! CSS, for the most part, does not affect assistive technology, so you won’t create a confusing experience like a double announcement.

If the design features just the icons themselves, you’ll need to supply text to say what kind of weather the icon represents. You might be quick to think, “Ah, aria-label can help here!”

But hear me out: why not spell out the weather condition using words, so that everyone can access them? This icon set uses a flat, abstract design. It can be tough to tell what some icons mean, and some icons look very similar to each other.

This echoes a piece I wrote about how sometimes you just need JavaScript.

Eric has some additional thoughts later in the thread, so I’d recommend reading the whole thing.