[webdev] Web Design Update: March 28, 2008
lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Fri Mar 28 06:15:58 CDT 2008
+++ WEB DESIGN UPDATE.
- Volume 6, Issue 40, March 28, 2008.
An email newsletter to distribute news and information about web design
++ISSUE 40 CONTENTS.
SECTION ONE: New references.
What's new at the Web Design Reference site?
New links in these categories:
02: CASCADING STYLE SHEETS.
03: EVALUATION & TESTING.
05: INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE.
09: STANDARDS, GUIDELINES & PATTERNS.
12: What Can You Find at the Web Design Reference Site?
++ SECTION ONE: New references.
Understanding How JAWS Reads Text
By Steve Faulkner.
"Making public statements based on limited knowledge of an assistive
technology and with little understanding of how it is used, can lead to
incorrect conclusions and poor implementations..."
Views From a Screen Reader User
By Mike Cherim.
"As it concerns using lists and other non-form structural elements to
lay out web forms, my feelings have been known. They haven't changed,
but after interviewing an experienced screen reader user about this
very subject recently, I do have new insights into it -- his
perspective anyway. It was a revealing interview. Offering without a
doubt relief to some, and probably disappointment to others. Any earned
responses will likely determine that."
Using titles on Form Fields
By Mike Davies.
"Form elements provide a decent range of accessibility options: label
elements match up label text with their corresponding field elements,
fieldsets group together similar input elements and the legend provides
a succinct title for these groupings of fields. With those elements
alone, forms are fairly simple to mark up in an accessible manner..."
HTML/XHTML Accessibility Features
By Ian Lloyd.
"The topic of web accessibility is a long and complicated one and
cannot be covered fully in this reference. However, many of the HTML
elements covered in this reference are there for the purposes of
improving the accessibility of the content, or may have specific
attributes that do the same. Where these occur, we mention in the
reference for that element or attribute that it's an accessibility
Reference Card for Accessible PDF Creation from Word
By Andrew Kirkpatrick.
"There is a lot of PDF that is generated though Adobe's PDFMaker
plug-in for Microsoft Word. You can quite easily create PDF documents
that meet the majority of accessibility needs with very little effort,
if you know how. For the CSUN conference, we created a one-page
document that helps guide users who may not know much about
accessibility so that they can more easily address accessibility in
+02: CASCADING STYLE SHEETS.
How and Why: Styling Text Links
By Andy Rutledge.
"Poorly styled text links can detract from or ruin an otherwise
well-designed page, while appropriately styled text links can add
significant support to the brand and enhance the user experience. Since
text links are a significant feature of the online experience, it's an
element of design worth getting right..."
By Fabian van Luyn.
"There are many ways to position your elements in CSS. Relative
positioning, absolute positioning or a combination of both. I'll
explain those ways with some clear examples..."
Shorthand CSS - not only because it is shorter
By Niels Matthijs.
"CSS is tricky, no doubt about that. And when working on a big site,
keeping a clean css file is pretty hard to manage. Time constraints,
browser bugs and change requests can make a downright mess of your
nicely tailored css. As time passes, things will only get worse. That's
why it is important to keep your css as clean as possible from the
+03: EVALUATION & TESTING.
Results of Online Usability Study of Apollo Program Websites
By Tom Tullis.
"An online usability study of two websites about the Apollo Space
Program (NASA and Wikipedia) was conducted. Each participant attempted
four tasks from a full set of nine using one of the sites. A total of
130 people completed the study. Task completion status and task time
were automatically recorded, as were responses to a variety of
post-study rating scales and open-ended questions, including the System
Usability Scale (SUS). All performance metrics (task completion, task
time, task efficiency) showed that the participants performed
significantly better using the Wikipedia site. Similarly, all but one
of the self-reported metrics showed that the Wikipedia site was
perceived as being significantly easier to use. The one exception was
that the NASA site was rated as marginally more visually appealing.
Extensive comments on both sites are consistent with these findings and
give additional insight into aspects of the sites that could be
The Persona Non Grata Article is a Gift. Really.
By Tamara Adlin.
"Here's the deal... he's got a great point, and I actually kinda
furiously like the article because it reflects what annoys me about
persona efforts (not personas themselves)."
Extreme User Research
By Daniel Lafreniere.
"What is the biggest problem I face almost every time a client hires me
to do something about a web project going awry? They don't know a thing
about their users. They don't have a clue, whatsoever. Unbelievable but
On-Line Web 2.0 Accessibility Course using the W3C ARIA Specifications
April 15 - May 8, 2008.
Higher Education Web Symposium
July 15-16, 2008.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
+05: INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE.
We Tried To Warn You: The Organizational Architecture of Failure
By Peter Jones.
"There are many kinds of failure in large, complex organizations -
breakdowns occur at every level of interaction, from interpersonal
communication to enterprise finance. Some of these failures are
everyday and even helpful, allowing us to safely and iteratively learn
and improve communications and practices. Other failures - what I call
large-scale - result from accumulated bad decisions, organizational
defensiveness, and embedded organizational values that prevent people
from confronting these issues in real time as they occur."
By David Bolter.
"I wondered when an aria-templateid might be used so I asked Richard
Easy ARIA Tip #1: Using aria-required
By Marco Zehe.
"...The first attribute I'd like to cover is called aria-required. It
is one of the universal aria attributes, which means, as stated, that
it can be used on any conventional HTML element such as input or
Easy ARIA tip #2: aria-labelledby and aria-describedby
By Marco Zehe.
"...The solution is in an ARIA attribute called aria-labelledby. Its
parameter is a string that consists of the IDs of the HTML or XUL
elements you want to concatenate into a single accessible name. Yes,
you read right, this not only works in HTML, but in XUL, too! A second
attribute that works very similarly is called aria-describedby..."
ARIA in HTML5 Integration: Document Conformance (Draft)
By Henri Sivonen.
"This is a draft written by Henri Sivonen. This is not a spec and has
not been endorsed by anyone. For context, please refer to this
By John Resig.
"Here are all the recordings from Webstock 08 and Webstock 06. These
recordings will be permanently archived at the following links. Where
there is no recording for a particular session, that was the decision
of the speaker and we fully respect that. (...) We'd love to hear from
you if you find these recordings useful. Please drop us a line and let
us know, especially if you weren't at Webstock and/or are from
locations other than New Zealand. Enjoy!"
Tap is the New Click: Designing Gestural Interfaces
By Dan Saffer.
"Even though the technology has been around for decades, only now are
we starting to see mass production and adoption of touchscreen and
gestural devices for the public. Jeff Han's influential 2006 TED
demonstration of his multitouch system, followed by the launches of
Nintendo's Wii, Apple's iPhone, and Microsoft Surface, have announced a
new era of interaction design, one where gestures in space and touches
on a screen will be as prominent as pointing and clicking."
The Externalities of Search 2.0
By Michael Zimmer.
"Web search engines have emerged as ubiquitous and vital tools for the
successful navigation of the growing online informational sphere. As
Google puts it, the goal is to 'organize the world's information and
make it universally accessible and useful' and to create the 'perfect
search engine' that provides only intuitive, personalized, and relevant
results. Meanwhile, the so-called Web 2.0 phenomenon has blossomed
based, largely, on the faith in the power of the networked masses to
capture, process, and mashup one's personal information flows in order
to make them more useful, social, and meaningful. The (inevitable)
combining of Google's suite of information-seeking products with Web
2.0 infrastructures - what I call Search 2.0 - intends to capture the
best of both technical systems for the touted benefit of users. By
capturing the information flowing across Web 2.0, search engines can
better predict users' needs and wants, and deliver more relevant and
meaningful results. While intended to enhance mobility in the online
sphere, this paper argues that the drive for Search 2.0 necessarily
requires the widespread monitoring and aggregation of a users' online
personal and intellectual activities, bringing with it particular
externalities, such as threats to informational privacy while online."
Findability, Orphan of the Web Design Industry
By Aarron Walter.
"Findability is to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as "web standards"
is to 'table layouts.' In a web whose vastness exceeds comprehension,
sites with findable content win. The good news is that everyone on your
team can help make your site findable. Get a taste for this essential
discipline from Aarron Walter, author of Building Findable Websites:
Web Standards, SEO, and Beyond."
+09: STANDARDS, GUIDELINES & PATTERNS.
Specifications, Standards, Guidelines and Recommendations
By Mel Pedley.
"...Don't be a slave to a standard. Following a standard simply because
it is a standard isn't enough. That kind of single-minded approach can
create more problems than it cures..."
Should We Continue To Use Relative Units Vs. Relying On Page Zooming?
By Robert Nyman.
"Looking at the upcoming releases of different web browsers I started
to wonder whether specifying fonts in relative units, such as ems etc,
will be a common approach in the future."
By Gerry McGovern.
"Redesign is classic organization-centric thinking. It rarely has much
to do with making things better for the customer."
Cues, The Golden Retriever
By Jamie Owen.
"How our natural responses to stimuli can inform the design process..."
Warning: Third-party Usability is Bad for your Health
By Frank Spillers.
"There is a huge problem in the software and web services industry: 3rd
party applications, widgets, dashboards or site add-ons can kill your
usability efforts. Poor user experiences with 3rd-party applications
can undermine or make your usability efforts look bad. Vendors such as
PeopleSoft, Vignette and many others are notorious for providing
"clunk-ware", 'vapor-ware' or 'sneaker-ware' as one of our clients at
Experience Dynamics put it. Let's explore why this is a major problem
Sign Up Forms Must Die
By Luke Wroblewski.
"You load a new web service, eager to dive in and start engaging, and
what's the first thing that greets you? A sign-up form. We can do
better, says Luke Wroblewski, author of Web Form Design: Filling in the
Blanks. Via a technique of "gradual engagement," we can get people
using and caring about our web services instead of frustrating them (or
sending them to a competitor's site) by forcing them to fill out a
sign-up form first."
Form Follows Function and Achieving Thereof
By Govert Adriaan Kolbach.
"Forms can be dreadfully tricky to style and structure properly.
Several articles that are out there focus on best practices for
building forms using HTML en CSS. This article focuses in a non
technical fashion on the use of meaningful nomenclature and how form
semantics relate to elements that current markup standards have to
offer. It may help you recognize structural patterns and to compose
[Section one ends.]
++ SECTION TWO:
+12: What Can You Find at the Web Design Reference Site?
Cascading Style Sheets Information.
Evaluation & Testing Information.
Information Architecture Information.
Miscellaneous Web Information.
Sites & Blogs Listing.
Standards, Guidelines & Pattern Information.
[Section two ends.]
+ SUBSCRIPTION INFO.
WEB DESIGN UPDATE is available by subscription. For information on how
to subscribe and unsubscribe please visit:
The Web Design Reference Site also has a RSS 2.0 feed for site updates.
+ TEXT EMAIL NEWSLETTER (TEN).
As a navigation aid for screen readers we do our best to conform to the
accessible Text Email Newsletter (TEN) guidelines. Please let me know
if there is anything else we can do to make navigation easier. For TEN
guideline information please visit:
+ SIGN OFF.
Until next time,
Laura L. Carlson
Information Technology Systems and Services
University of Minnesota Duluth
Duluth, MN U.S.A. 55812-3009
mailto:lcarlson at d.umn.edu
More information about the Webdev