[webdev] Web Design Update: November 28, 2005

Laura Carlson lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Mon Nov 28 06:39:40 CST 2005

- Volume 4, Issue 23, November 28, 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:

08: PHP.
10: TOOLS.
12: XML.

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

[Contents ends.]

++ SECTION ONE: New references.


The XHTML Role Access Module Still Flawed
By John Foliot.
"The following is a reprint of an Official Comment made to the Editors 
of the XHTML? 2 Draft Recommendation. It is provided here in a more 
public forum to stimulate discussion and debate."

The Trouble With Accesskeys
By Ian Lloyd.
"When I first heard about the accesskey attribute in HTML I thought 
'Wow! What a great idea' and started to apply them willy-nilly to 
projects I was undertaking at work. Some time later, I started to read 
other articles that described problems with using accesskeys, problems 
that I would not discover by myself unless I were using a Screen Reader 
(something I'd do infrequently during testing cycles of sites at work) 
or some other assistive device. What's the problem?..."

XHTML2 Draft Backtracks on Accesskeys
By Mel Pedley.
"...the XHTML 2 Working Group is now proposing to add the 'KEY' 
attribute to the ACCESS element - thus, once again, allowing content 
authors to dictate specific key bindings. In other words, ACCESSKEY by 
another name. The Working Group seem to feel that users need, or want, 
content authors to control key bindings. I have personally never 
encountered a single user who was in favour of author-defined key 
bindings - let alone felt that they were a user requirement. The users 
who I have spoken to feel that ACCESSKEY forces bindings upon users 
whether they want them or not and many users who could, in theory, 
benefit from single keystroke navigation, ignore accesskeys completely!"

Implementing a Holistic Approach to E-learning Accessibility
By Brian Kelly, Lawrie Phipps, and Caro Howell.
"The importance of accessibility to digital e-learning resources is 
widely acknowledged. The W3C WAI has played a leading role in promoting 
the importance of accessibility and developing guidelines which can 
help when developing accessible Web resources. The accessibility of 
e-learning resources provides additional challenges. In this paper the 
authors describe a holistic framework for addressing e-learning 
accessibility which takes into account the usability of e-learning, 
pedagogic issues and student learning styles in addition to technical 
and resource issues and provide a case study which illustrates use of 
this holistic approach to e-learning."

Cognitive Disabilities and Online Education
By Ben Buchanan.
"...Ultimately, the system should - theoretically - benefit the 
majority without unfairly disadvantaging any minority. The reality is 
that current technology at most universities has not reached 
perfection, or even anything close. None of the big commercial software 
apps are seriously standards-compliant. With that as a given - at least 
for the moment - there should be enough majority benefit to justify 
using the system, provided the minority can still access the material 
in order to complete their studies. In the meantime if the technology 
fails, then the people must step up and cover the shortfall. Which does 
involve some cooperation from the student - they have to communicate 
their needs and work with university staff who are trying to help them. 
There's an awful lot to be done in this area of web-delivered content."

UK Resources for Web Accessibility and the Law
By Martin Sloan.
"This page is intended to provide a comprehensive list of resources for 
those interested in the legal aspects of Web Accessibility in the UK. 
As well as providing links to Government legislation (primary and 
secondary), there are also links to other official documents as well as 
articles and presentations."

European Member of Parliament Sees Not Much Improvement in Accessibility
By Christian Heilmann.
Just got this as part of the e-government bulletin. Just another 
example as to how web accessibility has bigger issues than non-encoded 

Massachusetts, Open Document, and Accessibility
By Peter Korn.
"...In the medium and long term, this move is clearly a boon to the 
Massachusetts government and its citizens.  By moving to an open 
standard for its files, it throws open the doors to competition which 
will lower the price of office software...While the move to ODF seems 
to offer clear benefits to the Massachusetts government and citizens in 
general, a move to ODF and a change in office application has 
significant accessibility implications for people with disabilities..."

This is Accessible?
By Gez Lemon.
WCAG 2.0 has a concept of a baseline to cater for the fact that the web 
is continually evolving, and has to remain technology agnostic to 
remain useful. I don't have a problem with the concept of a baseline; I 
think it's a good idea. I will write more about the baseline concept at 
a later date. The following is a conformance claim, along with the 
script and markup referenced by the conformance claim. Would you 
consider this accessible?

WCAG 2.0 Baseline Concept
By Gez Lemon.
"In order to encourage vendors of non-W3C technologies to include 
accessibility features in their technologies, and in recognition of 
emerging technologies that are beneficial for the Web, WCAG 2.0 is 
technology neutral. Rather than list each technology that the 
guidelines cover, WCAG 2.0 introduces the concept of a baseline. This 
post attempts to explain what is meant by this baseline concept."

The Question of Baseline
By Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Working Group.
"The WCAG Working Group continues to wrestle with the challenge of 
defining the roles and responsibilities of authors and user agents, 
respectively, in making Web content accessible. In WCAG 1.0, we 
identified shortcomings in user agents and created guidelines that 
contained phrases like, 'until user agents...' Many of the same issues 
exist today, but we are looking for a more effective mechanism to 
address them than creating "temporary bridge" guidelines designed to 
make up for the shortcomings of user agents. The Working Group is well 
aware that there is intense interest in our approach to the challenge 
of defining "baseline" assumptions about the technologies available to 
users. This Working Draft of WCAG 2.0 represents a continued evolution 
of that approach, and the Working Group welcomes comments and 
suggestions from the community."

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 - comments on the 'Baseline 
Technology Assumption'
By Tina Holmboe.
"I would like to express my concern that this concept has even made it 
into a document such as the WCAG 2.0 WD. The idea that a baseline 
technology - aka. 'lowest common denominator' - can be defined goes 
against the very platform and client independence that the World Wide 
Web is meant to incorporate..."


CSS Is Not Hard To Learn - If You Recognize It For What It Is
By Christian Heilmann.
"On almost any mailing list or forum you still encounter developers 
venting their frustration as to how buggy CSS is and how hard it is to 
switch from table layouts to CSS layouts. A lot of this frustration is 
not based on bad browsers or missing elements and concepts in CSS, it 
is based on an old school view of web design. Web design was never 
easy, but it can be if we start embracing the complexity of our 
development environment and be flexible enough to develop for it."

Simple CSS Image Switcher
By Andy Rutledge.
"This is a pure CSS image switcher that is lightweight and 
standards-compliant. It could be used for a gallery or any similar 
function. Any number of list selection options can be used so long as 
the width can accommodate them. The CSS does not utilize any hacks, as 
this page uses Dean Edwards' IE7 JavaScript."

Putting Perfect Participants in Every Session
By Jared Spool.
"When putting together a design study, whether it is usability testing, 
field research, or focus group activity, it turns out that the most 
critical activity is recruiting the right participants. Over the past 
few years, we've interviewed several dozen user experience 
professionals, looking at the practices they use to conduct their 
research. As we dissected every activity involved in producing a 
successful study, we came to the conclusion that recruiting 
participants is the lynchpin that holds the study together."

Find Out What Your Customer Really Needs From Your Website
By Gerry McGovern.
"Find out what your customer really needs from your website by putting 
yourself in their shoes. Never ever design a website without thoroughly 
testing it with your target customers. Every day-every single day-you 
should be thinking about, talking to, listening to, observing your 
customers. There is simply no other part of your job that is remotely 
as important."

+04: EVENTS.

Gel (Good Experience Live) 2006
May 4-5, 2006.
New York, New York U.S.A.


Getting Involvement With Prototype Interfaces
By Donna Maurer.
There is a funny piece of rhetoric from the user-centred design world - 
it says that when showing prototype interfaces for the first time they 
should be hand-drawn and rough, not computer-drawn and tidy. The theory 
says that people are more likely to tell you what they think when 
things are still rough."


Inline JavaScript: What's the Problem?
By David Lindquist.
"So then, what is the problem with using inline JavaScript in 
moderation? After all, it is simply a name="value" attribute pair like 
all the others. Why is class="someclass" acceptable and 
onclick="dosomething(this)" is not?"
Inline JavaScript: What's the Problem? (comments)

Questioning Unobtrusive JavaScript
By Jeremy Keith.
"...Unobtrusive, good; inline, bad. That said, it's not the worst thing 
in the world to have inline event handlers. It's more a matter of best 
practices. If you styled your pages using inline styles, there wouldn't 
be anything technically wrong with that. It's just that, from a 
maintenance and readability standpoint, it can make your own life more 
difficult. It's much the same with adding behaviour inline. You can do 
it, but you'd be much better off keeping all your behaviour 


Interview with Andy Clarke (AKA Accessibility, the Gloves Come Off)
By Ian Lloyd.
"...Those people still delivering nested table layout, spacer gifs or 
ignoring accessibility can no longer call themselves web 
professionals...There are now so many web sites, blogs or publications 
devoted to helping people learn standards and accessible techniques 
that there are now no excuses not to work with semantic code or CSS..."

Meet the Life Hackers
By Clive Thompson.
How important is screen size? Meet the Life Hackers, looks at people 
who are trying to re-engineer high-tech work distractions, discusses a 
study where participants were given a 42-inch screen vs. a 15-inch one. 
One veteran researcher claimed he has 'never seen a single tweak to a 
computer system so significantly improve a user's productivity.' On the 
bigger screen, people completed the tasks at least 10 percent more 
quickly - and some as much as 44 percent more quickly.

+08: PHP.

Track Browser Resizing in Your Database Using AJAX - part 1
By Tom Muck.
"AJAX gives a web developer a valuable tool that allows the server to 
communicate with the browser in real time based on client-side events 
(such as resizing). I wrote a little script that I can insert on a page 
to track the resizing made by a user in relation to his screen 
resolution. After getting this information from a variety of users, I 
can run queries on the data and get some insight into browsing habits 
and adjust my page designs accordingly (or have them adjusted by a 
designer, in my case.) The code will be presented for ColdFusion and 

Track Browser Resizing in Your Database Using AJAX - part 2
By Tom Muck.
"Part 1 of this post showed the server-side code for a browser resize 
tracker. This part will show the client-side script. This can go on any 
type of page -- php, coldfusion, html, etc. The scripts consist of 
several functions..."


AT&T: One Full Year With Web Standards
By Joe D'Andrea.
"I'm incredibly pleased - and proud - to have helped www.att.com and 
others at AT&T evolve from a hodgepodge of largely nutritionless mid 
'90s-era markup to their current leaner, healthier state."

Web Standards and The New Professionalism
By Molly E. Holzschlag.
"...Whatever we call it - Web 2.0, evangelism, religion, or simply the 
best way to do our jobs, I can't agree more with the strong yet very 
clear message that real-world Web professionals are sharing. No doubt 
that getting to a highly skilled level isn't that easy. Believe me, I 
understand. I've been at it for the majority of my career and as the 
old adage goes, the more I learn, the less I realize I know...Today, I 
want to express that I believe that this new professionalism means 
taking responsibility for the education of ourselves and each other, 
and ensuring that reversions like Disney Store UK never happen again."

Design Sites and Web Standards
By Roger Johansson.
"Judging from some of those comments and bits and pieces I have seen in 
other design-oriented forums, there is clearly a wide-spread 
misunderstanding among purely visual designers that accessibility is 
just about blind people. Good accessibility practices make browsing the 
web easier for everybody. And, after looking around at some of the 
design portals in Joe's list of tested sites, I wonder what makes the 
designers of many of those sites use such incredibly small text and 
stuff their content in little scrolling boxes. What is the point of 
that? I just don't get it."

Guess What? Your Clients Have Learned About Web Standards
D. Keith Robinson.
"If the folks writing the checks are on the standards clue train, don't 
you think it's time to stop debating the merits of standards-based 

WebPatterns and WebSemantics
By John Allsopp.
"Over the last few years, we've seen a growing awareness of the 
importance of semantics in HTML. Perhaps Dan Cederholm's rightly lauded 
Simplequiz was the coming of age of this idea, which while there at the 
very beginning of HTML, had been overlooked for a long time by the 
great majority of web developers. We could consider this "first 
generation semantics" or, in current parlance "WebSemantics 1.0"...."

+10: TOOLS.

Sim Daltonism
By Michel Fortin.
"Sim Daltonism is a color blindness simulator for Mac OS X. It filters 
in real-time the area around the mouse pointer and display the result 
in a floating palette."

W3C Feed Validation Service
By W3C.
"This is the W3C Feed Validation Service, a free service that checks 
the syntax of Atom or RSS feeds. The Markup Validation Service  is also 
available if you wish to validate regular Web pages."


Clean, Cutting-Edge UI Design Cuts McAfee's Support Calls By 90%
By Bruce Hadley.
"...The bottom line, as far as Ries is concerned, is straightforward: 
Focusing on the design of the product had a significant impact on the 
cost of supporting the product..."

Good Designers Redesign, Great Designers Realign
By Cameron Moll.
"The difference between redesigns that make you look busy and give your 
stakeholders something else to argue about, and strategic overhauls 
that reposition your brand and help you set and reach business goals."

Realigning Design
By D. Keith Robinson.
"The problem for many designers, as I see it, is not that we see 
ourselves as full-time 'redesigners'. It's more that everyone else sees 
us that way. How many of you have worked on a project where you wanted 
to (and probably did) do some real thinking, only to have it trumped by 
some aesthetic preference of your client? It's in here that the battle 
between usability and 'graphic design' is often created. I know I've 
worked on quite a few sites like this. Where you've got to compromise 
your well thought-out and purpose driven design to make sure you're 
addressing your client's vision of art."

Attack of the Zombie Copy
By Erin Kissane.
"You've seen them around the web, these zombie sentences--syntax slack 
and drooling, clauses empty of everything except a terrible hunger for 
human brains. Here's how to fight back."

Accessibility Is Not Enough
By Jakob Nielsen.
"A strict focus on accessibility as a scorecard item doesn't help users 
with disabilities. To help these users accomplish critical tasks, you 
must adopt a usability perspective."

Non-Usable Accessibility
By Matt Bailey.
"Jacob Neilson's latest Alertbox article, 'Accessibility is Not 
Enough'...is a very short, but succinct article in warning people to be 
wary of software or applications that are sold as accessible, yet do 
not take user behavior into account. Accessibility is best applied with 
usability. "

+12: XML.

Migrating from HTML to XHTML and XML
By Char James-Tanny.
"This is the first part of a two-part article describing a detailed 
methodology for migrating HTML files to the structure and flexibility 
of XHTML and/or XML. By using XHTML to add structure and separate 
content from presentation, you'll be better positioned for a move to 
XML. Even if you never move to XML, your XHTML files will be easier to 
create and maintain, and will be more accessible."

[Section one ends.]


+13: 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.]



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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.]

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