[webdev] Web Design Update: September 29, 2005

Laura Carlson lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Thu Sep 29 06:26:13 CDT 2005

- Volume 4, Issue 14, September 29, 2005.

An email newsletter to distribute news and information about web design 
and development.


SECTION ONE: New references.
What's new at the Web Design Reference site?
New links in these categories:

06: FLASH.
11: PHP.
13: TOOLS.
16: XML.

17: What Can You Find at the Web Design Reference Site?

[Contents ends.]

++ SECTION ONE: New references.


Universality and Accessibility
By Gez Lemon.
"In a perfect world, just following web standards should be enough to 
ensure that content is available for everyone. Unfortunately, authors 
can inadvertently introduce accessibility barriers without realizing 
it. An accessibility barrier is anything that provides a barrier to 
people with disabilities. A simple example of an accessibility barrier 
might be where authors decide they don't like the dotted border around 
active links, and remove it with scripting..."

Speaking Form Labels - Summary
By Bob Easton.
"...The best practices are simple. Use the structural elements we've 
been given. Legends and labels are structural elements; highly 
recommended. Title attributes are very poor substitutes. The only 
reason to use them is as redundant information in the hopes that older 
screen readers will speak them. However, don't depend on titles alone. 
Group like items together with a fieldset and then use the fieldset's 
legend to add supplemental instruction for that group of controls. Use 
real labels on every control to insure their meaning is obvious. Just 
because the legend says, 'date month and year,' we shouldn't assume the 
first control is actually the month. Label it! Avoid hiding labels. Any 
innovative designer should be able to create a form that uses legends 
and labels with no need to hide either, and the W3C should ditch their 
example of hiding labels..."

IBM Systems Journal, (accessibility issue)
By International Business Machines.
"Making information technology accessible to the largest possible 
population of users has become a significant aspect of application and 
system development. Providing accessibility involves designing and 
modifying technology to make it accessible to users who would otherwise 
be unable to use it. This has become a growing element of the design 
process, due to government mandates as well as business considerations. 
Hardware and software assistive technologies have opened the Web to 
users with disabilities, though considerable work still needs to be 
done in order to achieve the goal of end-to-end accessibility for all 
users. This issue contains 13 papers on architectures, tools, 
applications, and assistive technologies designed to increase 
accessibility for diverse user groups."

'IBM Systems Journal' Accessibility Articles
By Joe Clark.
"Volume 44, N 3 of the IBM Systems Journal is an issue dedicated to 
accessibility of the Web and computer applications. I like nothing 
better than to sit of a morning with an espresso, a set of printouts of 
research papers, and my trusted green editing pen. (Red is so terribly 
passe, and the leads of a New Yorker?style blue pencil tend to snap 
under impassioned jotting of marginalia.) Here, then, are my precis and 

Staying Positive About Tabindex
By Joe Clark.
"Mozilla and IBM are promoting a new method of keyboard accessibility 
that sets tabindex="-1" on items that you the author want to be 
manipulable by keyboard...Now, whose idea was a negative 
tabindex?...Microsoft’s. All this, of course, is illegal. HTML requires 
tabindex to be a number between 0 and 32767."

Screen Readers Suck!
By Dave Child.
"Accessibility has now become a major issue in web design. One 
benchmark of an accessible site is that it works in common screen 
reading programs. However, screen readers are making the job of 
conscientious web designers harder than it should be."


Ten More CSS Tricks You May Not Know
By Trenton Moss.
"Our article, Ten CSS tricks you may not know has proven to be such a 
success that we decided it was time to offer you ten more CSS tricks 
that you may not know."

Clearing Floats
By Russ Weakley.
Elements following a floated element will wrap around the floated 
element. If you do not want this to occur, you can apply the "clear" 
property to these following elements. The four options are "clear: 
left", "clear: right", "clear: both" or "clear: none".

How to Completely Enclose a Floated Element in CSS2
By Matt Brubeck.

Rising Tide - A New CSS Technique
By Maxine Sherrin.
"Ever since I last reworked the Westciv site I've received a constant 
stream of emails asking how I achieve the transparency effect on the 
logo in the top left corner. I lost track long ago of how many people I 
promised a tutorial on the subject. Well, here it is. The added bonus 
for waiting so long is that here you won't just learn how I create the 
visual effect as the page scrolls. I've also written about how I made 
the background image into a link to the home page which will always be 
there no matter how far someone scrolls down the page."


Dreamweaver 8 First Impressions
By Jared Smith (WebAim thread).
"Dreamweaver 8 is now available. I thought I'd put together my first
impressions regarding new accessibility features (or the lack 


Putting A/B Testing in Its Place
By Jakob Nielsen.
"Measuring the live impact of design changes on key business metrics is 
valuable, but often creates a focus on short-term improvements. This 
near-term view neglects bigger issues that only qualitative studies can 

+05: EVENTS.

XML Conference and Exposition 2005
November 14-18, 2005.
Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.

Web Foundations
November 22-23, 2005.
Gijon, Spain

An Event Apart
"The idea behind An Event Apart is simple: take two globally recognized 
web authorities and put them on the road. Moving from city to city, 
they set up shop for an entire day and dig deep into what they've been 
working on, what changes they expect in the next year, and how it all 
comes together. Rather than stand at a podium in front of a few hundred 
people with only a few minutes to answer two or three questions, they 
sit in a room with a few dozen people and interact all day long. That, 
in a nutshell, makes this An Event Apart."
December 5, 2005.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

+06: FLASH.

Speeding Up Web Browsing
By Jeff Atwood.
"In order to speed up my web browsing experience, I disable Flash in 
Internet Explorer. I've got nothing personal against Flash, mind you, 
but it's generally chrome. It's visually (and sometimes audibly) 
distracting, and it adds download time to each page view."


An Introduction to User Journeys
By Jason Hobbs.
"Designing a website’s structure around customer needs creates 
trust?trust in the web as a valuable space to interact with a brand, 
product, or service. Such a website provides your customers with a 
valuable first point of contact. User journeys are a method for 
conceptualizing and structuring a website’s content and functionality. 
These journeys allow us to shift away from thinking about structure in 
terms of hierarchies or a technical build..."


addEvent() Recoding Contest
By Peter-Paul Koch.
"My recent entry addEvent() considered harmful generated many 
interesting comments and technical pointers. It's clear that the 
original addEvent() function doesn't quite cut the cake any more, and 
it's equally clear that we badly need a function such as this to keep 
our scripts simple. Hence I'd like to take the opportunity to launch an 
addEvent() recoding contest. Write your own version of addEvent() and 
removeEvent(), submit it by adding a comment to this page, and win 
JavaScript fame."

Validators: Introducing Struts Validator Framework
By A.P.Rajshekhar.
"It was in such a situation that the Validator framework came to the 
forefront. So, what is the Validator framework and how can it be used 
to simplify input validations -- both the client as well as the 
server-side? I will be discussing these aspects in this part of 

JavaScript Logging
By David F. Miller.
"Debugging got you down? Weep no more. David F. Miller introduces 
fvlogger, a script library that brings simple logging functionality to 
JavaScript and the browser and makes your life easier and more fun."

What is Greasemonkey?
By Mark Pilgrim.
"Greasemonkey is a Firefox extension that allows you to write scripts 
that alter the web pages you visit. You can use it to make a website 
more readable or more usable. You can fix bugs that the site owner 
can't be bothered to fix themselves. You can alter pages so they work 
better with assistive technologies that speak to a web page aloud or 
convert it to Braille. You can even automatically retrieve data from 
other sites to make two sites more interconnected."

The Hows and Whys of Degradable Ajax
By Ryan Campbell.
"The strategy here is to start by creating a page that works like a 
normal site--processing information on page loads and refreshes. Then, 
if JavaScript is enabled, we have our scripts bypass this normal 
functionality and replace it with sweet Ajax functionality. Now, 
creating a degradable Ajax site is a bit different from a creating a 
site with unlimited Ajax potential. Here are some strategies I've come 
up with to help you build a degradable Ajax page."

Survey of AJAX/JavaScript Libraries
By wiki.osafoundation.org.
"A new wiki has appeared that contains a great list of AJAX/JavaScript 
Libraries. Each library is contains a section for details, pros, cons 
and of course a link to the library's download page."


Answers to Usability Questions: Interview with Kimberly Krause Berg
By Jim Hedger.
"For the end user, usability is the ability to successfully, 
comfortably and confidently learn or complete a task. For the web site 
designer or application developer, it's the mechanics of designing and 
building a web site or Internet-based application so that it can be 
understood and easy to accomplish any task..."

Dan Cederholm Interview
By Ethan Marcotte.
"...The goal is simply to get people thinking more about 'What happens 
if...?' What happens if a low-vision user bumps the text size up a 
notch or two? What happens when there are three sentences in this box, 
rather than the two that were originally planned?..."


Search Engine Optimization -- Titles
By D. Keith Robinson.
"One of the best things you can do for your site is learn how to write 
good titles for your pages. This not only helps Google (and any other 
search engines) find your site and provide searchers with relevant 
results, but helps your users and other sites that would like to link 
to you."

Analyzing User Behaviour: A Case Study
By Chris Kutler and Ray Devaney.
"...The initial analysis concentrated on determining the frequency of 
keywords per search. The underlying basis of the approach was a 
commonly held view that users have tended to restrict their searches to 
one or two words. However, it was also suspected that when users become 
more comfortable with the technology or more familiar with the 
database's contents, they may start to construct more sophisticated 
search phrases..."

+11: PHP.

PHP 101 (part 3): Looping The Loop
Basic control structures explained.
By Vikram Vaswani.
"If you've been paying attention, you remember that, last time, I gave 
you a quick crash course in PHP's basic control structures and 
operators. I also showed you how PHP can be used to process the data 
entered into a Web form. In this tutorial, I'm going to delve deeper 
into PHP's operators and control structures, showing you two new 
operators, an alternative to the if-else() family of conditional 
statements, and some of PHP's more interesting loops. So keep 
reading... this is just about to get interesting!..."

PHP 101 (part 4): The Food Factor
Arrays, PHP array functions, and what it all means.
By Vikram Vaswani.
"Having spent lots of time traveling around the outer landscape of PHP 
- learning all about control structures, operators and variables  - 
you're probably bored. You might even be thinking of dropping out right 
now, and instead spending your time more constructively (or so you 
think) in front of the idiot box. That would be a big mistake. And when 
I say big, I mean humongous. You see, if you forego this segment of the 
tutorial ... you're going to miss out on one of PHP's coolest variable 
types. It's a little thing called an array, and I'm not exaggerating 
when I tell you that once you're on speaking terms with it, you're 
never going to look at a PHP script the same way again. But hey, don't 
take my word for it... toss that remote aside and come see for 

PHP Login System with Admin Features
By jpmaster77.
This article "describes a complete PHP Login System with full 
Administrative Features that uses a MySQL database and can be easily 
integrated into any PHP/MySQL website."

Database Abstraction in PHP
Ian Gilfillan.
"In a previous job when I was responsible for hiring PHP developers, I 
always used to ask questions about database abstraction in my 
interviews. It's amazing how often candidates with the best-looking 
CV's, and impressive looking project lists, were tripped up by their 
lack of knowledge of what a database abstraction layer is, and were 
unfamiliar with any of the main database abstraction layers."


The Meaning of Web Standards
By Derek Featherstone.
"Web standards means different things to different people. Make sure 
you know what it means to the people you're talking to..."

Basic Webstandards Workshop
By Russ Weakley and the folks at maxdesign.
Presentation Slides.

Semantics: The Red-Headed Step-Child of Markup
By Garrett Dimon.
"Semantic markup is readable markup. It’s that simple. It’s more 
readable for people and, more importantly, provides a sort of metadata 
to machines. Different tags imply different meanings, and if there’s a 
tag appropriate to your content, you should make every effort to use 

IE7 Will Not Support W3 Standards
"Microsoft's admission that IE7 will not support leading and well 
established standards such as CSS is shameful and undermines 
accessibility efforts. While accessibility may well not be a mission 
critical element like security, this is a moral issue - saying it's not 
a priority sets a callous example, and thousands of businesses will 
follow suit. Microsoft needs to lead by example and be at the cutting 

FEMA Locks Mac Users from Hurricane Relief
By Jonny Evans.
"Mac and Linux-using hurricane survivors are unable to use Federal 
disaster relief claim form services online. This is because the 
much-criticized US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has 
created a service that only works with Windows and Internet Explorer 6. 
This acts to the frustration of survivors lucky enough to be able to 
access a Mac or Linux computer, and to the reported consternation of 
disaster relief teams on the ground."

Why Mozilla Shouldn't Implement SVG (or at least not too much of it),
and What We Should Do Instead
By David Baron.
"...I think the presence of SVG on the Web would generally harm users. 
The fundamental difference is this: HTML and CSS are based on the idea 
that the user has a default font size and that text should wrap when it 
doesn't fit, depending on the width of the document; SVG is based on 
the idea that the author determines the size of text relative to the 
size of the image and that all the text scales depending on the width 
of the document. If SVG were designed primarily to replace what is 
currently done using images (things like figures, graphs, and logos), 
that would be fine, and it would probably improve the user's Web 
experience. However, SVG is being designed to do much more than that 
and being promoted to replace what is currently done using HTML and 
CSS, to be a language for Web applications and their user interface. If 
it's used that way, I believe it will be more harmful to the user 
experience than helpful, since it will lead to Web pages being worse at 
adapting to different font sizes and browser window sizes and it will 
make the mechanisms the browser can use to overcome those problems 
(such as text zoom, which violates Web standards to improve the 
experience for users) less useful..."

+13: TOOLS.

Web Accessibility Tools Consortium.
"The Web Accessibility Tools Consortium [WAT-C] provides a collection 
of free tools to assist both developers and designers in the 
development and testing of accessible web content. The consortium is a 
collaboration of some of the world's leading accessibility 
practitioners, founded by Accessible Information Solutions (Australia), 
Infoaxia (Japan), The Paciello Group (USA), Wrong HTML (Japan), and 
Juicy Studio (UK). Our goals are to develop new tools, improve current 
tools and expand the range of browsers, operating systems and languages 
in which our tools are available."

W3C Tool Kit 1.2    	
By bonAveo.
"A nifty little Widget with fast access to the W3C Markup and CSS 
Validator as well as their Link Checker."


Text/Typographical Layout
By Paul Bohman.
"WebAIM continues to provide excerpts from its comprehensive 'WebAIM 
Guide to Web Accessibility Techniques and Concepts' with the release of 
this tutorial on laying out text in an accessible format on the web."


Simplicity and Goovite
By Mark Hurst.
"I occasionally get asked why this newsletter is in plain text, with no 
HTML or other decoration. HTML is a nice idea for e-mail, but plain 
ASCII text does the job just fine - with no downsides (like 
compatibility differences) and plenty of upsides (like portability and 
quick download). But there's a more accurate reason why I choose 
plaintext, and it's an idea I cling to with almost religious fervor in 
my work: Always try to use the simplest tool to do the job..."

Open Source Usability: The Birth of a Movement
By Rashmi Sinha.
"The last few months have been an exciting time for open source 
usability. Here is a first hand story of what has been happening, some 
photographs and reflections."

Usability vs. Learnability
By Jeff Atwood.
"You should certainly try to put the most important information at the 
top of whatever it is you're writing, be it a website, a program, an 
email, a resume, etc. Believe me, I've learned this the hard way; 
you're lucky if they read anything, much less the first paragraph. But 
to claim that users don't scroll is downright ridiculous, even for 
1996. Let's say you had a user who didn't know how to scroll a web 
page. How long would it take this user, however timid they may be, to 
learn that they needed to scroll when browsing the web? A user who 
can't learn to scroll within a few hours certainly won't be using the 
internet for very long."

Write Clear Titles
By D. Keith Robinson.
"One of the easiest and best things you can do when publishing on the 
Web is to write clear, meaningful titles for your posts, pages and 
articles. Then, once you've written that title, put it into your title 

+16: XML.

Agile XML
By Micah Dubinko.
"Micah Dubinko catches up with the XML-developer community with an 
examination of the Agile XML manifesto."

Writing Semantic Markup
By Joshua Porter and Richard MacManus.
"The biggest and most welcome change on the Web in the last five years 
has been the astronomical growth of Web feeds: XML files containing a 
snapshot of a Web site’s newest content that saves readers a tremendous 
amount of time. In 2000, there was only a handful of feeds. In 2005, 
there are millions."

RSS 2.0 Specification
By Harvard Law.
Detailed explanation of the RSS 2.0 Specification

[Section one ends.]


+17: What Can You Find at the Web Design Reference Site?

Accessibility Information.

Association Information.

Book Listings.

Cascading Style Sheets Information.

Color Information.

Dreamweaver Information.

Evaluation & Testing Information.

Event Information.

Flash Information.

Information Architecture Information.

JavaScript Information.

Miscellaneous Web Information.

Navigation Information.

PHP Information.

Sites & Blogs Listing.

Standards, Guidelines & Pattern Information.

Tool Information.

Typography Information.

Usability Information.

XML Information.

[Section two ends.]



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.


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:


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

[Issue ends.]

More information about the Webdev mailing list