The other day I was listing to Build and Analyze episode #95 This Unicorn Doesn’t Support NFC. Toward the end of the episode Marco Arment demonstrates how his application, Instapaper, uses voice assist to help others may have some visual impairment. He also went on to showed how a few other applications in the category deployed or attempted to deploy a similar. I was very impressed by the demo but did not think about it to much initially.
Since then Marco has released two updates to the popular Instapaper. The first update was for iOS 6 compatitbilty but it included some other features as well.
I consider Marco to be a craftsman developer. His product is great, he is meticulous about the features he adds and why and he is always moving the product forward. In the last 2 releases (4.2.5 and 4.2.6) Marco has taken time to add features for what I can only imagine is a very small percentage of his user base. Marco has added fonts to aid the accessibility of customers with little or low vision.
The first version 4.2.5 added the Open-Dyslexic font to assist reading for people with Dyslecia. 4.2.6 added FS Me which has been used in the past to assist people with learning disabilities. I actually love this font and it seems to make things very sharp and easier to read for a long time.
So why did he add these new fonts? Did he have a plea from the community of visually impaired to add these? Does 70% of install user base need these? Is he getting pressure from his competitors to be feature competitive?
I speculate that none of these are true. I imagine he decided it was the right thing to do and it would assist some small portion of his user base. He took a craftsman approach to taking something really really good and making it even a little better. Instantly I think of the back of the cabinet approach Steve Jobs father spoke of –
“the back of the cabinet should look as good as the rest of it”.