This Twitter thread by Eric Bailey points at an issue that the inclusive design community is well aware of, but that is ignored at large by the audiences of these “Best Websites of …” competitions and top-lists:
A lot of (I’d go as far as to say: the majority of) websites celebrated by design agencies and decorated with “design awards” are lacking even the most basic consideration of accessibility. Eric is not doing thorough a11y audits, just some quick and improvised testing of keyboard accessibility (focus styles), colour contrast etc. – these are issues even a junior web developer could notice within a few minutes.
It’s important, though, to take note of Eric’s motives:
This isn’t a call out of the websites featured, in that I’m just grabbing them off the top of the stack. It is, however, a condemnation of best-of lists that don’t take accessibility into account.
We are looking at a systemic issue here; the creators of sites called out in the thread being trapped within. How can it be acceptable – or, actually: award-worthy – to churn out shiny and flashy websites that do not care the least bit about inclusive design, about users beyond the demographic sitting in those agencies in front of their fancy Macs?
In my opinion, no website that isn’t at least showing the effort to pass a WCAG audit for accessibility should ever be featured on a “design award” list anywhere.