The Latin phrase used in the title of this post, primum non nocere, translates as:
First do no harm.
It’s often said that this is part of the Hippocratic Oath, from the code of ethics followed by medical professionals. While that’s not correct, it’s a rule that’s generally considered important to follow: do good, or at least do no harm.
Although what we do is not as critical to society as the role of a doctor, I think we need to start considering an oath like this for working on the web. Let me explain why.
In order to ensure that we make websites available to everyone, regardless of browser type or capability, I would suggest we come up with our own oath — perhaps something like this:
First make your content accessible.
This isn’t new, of course; this is basic stuff. But so keen are many of us to rush to take advantage of all the shiny newness of devices and features, we’re forgetting to do the fundamentals. We’re doing harm.