Has there been an effort to improve the default focus styles? I’d be much happier if browser vendors fixed this issue themselves ;-)
I am not certain what side effects you mean when replacing browser defaults. Regardless, I am not advocating replacing them, I am advocating not relying on them.
As for the focus styles coming into play on a mouse click, I disagree that we don’t want that. It depends on the design, the designer, the client, and the user.
I cannot speak to efforts to improve the default focus styles within browsers, but I did find an issue filed against Firefox (linked in the third paragraph). I agree that browsers need to do better.
Totally, 100% agree. My father is visually impaired with macular degeneration and I had to switch him over from Firefox to Chrome just because of this one issue. The dotted line is just too subtle and he definitely cannot see it.
“I am not certain what side effects you mean when replacing browser defaults.” coming in late on this, but: modern browsers use heuristics that only show the default outline focus style under certain conditions. in most situations nowadays, the default focus is not applied to, say, links or buttons when they were clicked with the mouse, but only when they were navigated to with the keyboard (from memory, Firefox does a heuristic where only after the user TABbed at least once on the page it then sets default focus style, regardless of how the user activated/clicked). Whereas setting explicit :focus style will always apply that style, regardless of whether the user used keyboard or mouse…which can lead to unsightly of confusing results (classic example: take two buttons that trigger some kind of in-page behavior; set an explicit focus style; user mouse-clicks on one, the action happens, but the strong focus style is applied…now, visually, the button looks different, making a user think it’s more like a toggle, or maybe disabled, or…)
In any case, :focus-ring should help here (being able to specify not only the focus style, but making it only apply in same situation as the default focus indicator, so heuristics used by modern browsers as above will be used/applied here too).