[webdev] Web Design Update: December 15, 2005

Laura Carlson lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Thu Dec 15 06:39:05 CST 2005

- Volume 4, Issue 26, December 15, 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:

09: PHP.
11: TOOLS.
13: XML.

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

[Contents ends.]

++ SECTION ONE: New references.


RNIB Media Briefing on Accessible PDFs
By Mike Davies.
"These are my notes and recollections to the RNIB media briefing into 
accessible PDFs. The Royal National Institute for the Blind hosted a 
media briefing on the evening of the 20th October 2005. The topic was 
the accessibility of PDFs. This event was organized in conjunction with 
Adobe, and specifically because Adobe's US-based Accessibility Manager, 
Greg Pisocky was in the UK for a conference."

Accessible PDF Documents For the Blind
By Peter Abrahams.
"There was a time when .pdf files were not accessible because screen 
readers, such as JAWS, could not interpret them. It is still true that 
the majority of .pdf files on the web cannot be read easily or 
correctly. Originally this was a problem with the tools that were used 
to create, and then read, the documents. Adobe recognized this as a 
moral, business and legal problem and has made significant steps to 
improve the situation, and the latest versions of Acrobat can create 
and process files that are accessible..."

Here We Go Again With Untagged PDFs
By Joe Clark.
"My esteemed colleague Greg Pisocky of Adobe is paraphrased as saying 
'If a PDF isn't tagged there's no chance of it being accessible.' False 
as written..."

Are They Really Accessible PDFs?
By Julian Rickards.
"This article was originally posted on August 26, 2005 but, as you can 
see below, I have updated the content..."


Preparing For IE7 - Part Three - Multiple IE Browsers on One Computer
By John Gallant, Holly Bergevin.
"As the introduction of IE7 looms on the horizon, bringing yet another 
IE/Win version to the current list of browsers that web pages must be 
checked in, it would be great to have the ability to easily test on all 
these browsers. We've discovered that we can target different IE/Win 
browsers using Conditional Comments (CC), but up until recently testing 
in multiple versions of IE required several computers, or some special 
software instead. This is no longer the case. It's now possible to have 
IE3, IE4, IE5, IE5.5, and IE6 all working at the same time on one 
Windows computer! In this tutorial we'll describe how to install and 
label several versions IE/Win on a single computer. We'll also make a 
registry adjustment that will allow CCs to work properly on these newly 
installed browsers. Onward!..."

CSS for Bar Graphs
By Apples To Oranges.
"Recently we've had to tackle some interesting visualizations which we 
coded in XHTML and CSS. The method we used, while fairly simple, was a 
big help to the engineer and created a very flexible and inexpensive 
solution. We thought we would share our solution and code in case 
anyone else ran against similar situations..."

Centered Tabs with CSS
By Ethan Marcotte.
"Ethan Marcotte has produced a CSS tab navigation scheme that is 
centered horizontally on the page and does not use the popular 
float:left; technique. It requires an extra <span> in link code, but 
that's a pretty minor addition of superfluous markup to accomplish this 
navigation layout."


User-Centered Design (UCD) - 6 Methods
By Tim Fidgeon.
"User-centered design (UCD) is a project approach that puts the 
intended users of a site at the centre of its design and development. 
It does this by talking directly to the user at key points in the 
project to make sure the site will deliver upon their requirements."

Introduction to Eyetracking: Seeing Through Your Users' Eyes
By Matteo Penzo.
"This article is the first in a series of articles on eyetracking that 
will appear in UXmatters. Over the coming months, I'll use eyetracking 
to evaluate a lot of world-renowned user interfaces-including Web sites 
like Amazon.com®, Google? News, and eBay; Rich Internet Applications 
(RIAs); and desktop applications-and analyze quantitative eyetracking 
data to provide best practices for designing user interface elements 
like navigation systems, menus, and forms, and for effective ad 

Iterative Usability Testing as Continuous Feedback: A Control Systems 
By Alex Genov.
"This paper argues that in the field of usability, debates about number 
of users, the use of statistics, etc. in the abstract are pointless and 
even counter-productive. We propose that the answers depend on the 
research questions and business objectives of each project and thus 
cannot be discussed in absolute terms. Sometimes usability testing is 
done with an implicit or explicit hypothesis in mind. At other times 
the purpose of testing is to guide iterative design. These two 
approaches call for different study designs and treatment of data. We 
apply control systems theory to the topic of usability to highlight and 
frame the value of iterative usability testing in the design lifecycle. 
Within this new metaphor, iterative testing is a form of feedback which 
is most effective and resource-efficient if done as often as 
practically possible with project resources and timelines in mind."

Usability Testing of Mobile Applications: a Comparison Between 
Laboratory and Field Testing
By Anne Kaikkonen, Aki Kekalanen, Mikael Cankar, Titti Kallio, Anu and 
"Usability testing a mobile application in the laboratory seems to be 
sufficient when studying user interface and navigation issues. The 
usability of a consumer application was tested in two environments: in 
a laboratory and in a field with a total of 40 test users. The same 
problems were found in both environments, differences occurred in the 
frequency of findings between the contexts. Results indicate that 
conducting a time-consuming field test may not be worthwhile when 
searching user interface flaws to improve user interaction. In spite of 
this, it is possible that field testing is worthwhile when combining 
usability tests with a field pilot or contextual study where user 
behavior is investigated in a natural context."

Personas, Goals, and Emotional Design
By Robert Reimann.
"In the first three chapters of Emotional Design, Norman presents his 
three-level theory of cognitive processing and discusses its potential 
importance to design. However, Emotional Design does not suggest a 
method for systematically integrating Norman's insightful model of 
cognition and affect into the practice of user experience design. It is 
my hope, in the remainder of this article, to, [1.] Suggest some deeper 
implications of Norman's ideas for the design of user experience. [2.] 
Provide a method by which UX professionals can incorporate his ideas 
into a way of developing a richer understanding of users. [3.]  Show 
how UX professionals might begin applying his ideas to the design of 

5-Second Tests Don’t Tell Us Everything
By Christine Perfetti.
"While the 5-second test technique is an essential part of UIE's 
usability toolbox, it still has limits in what it can tell us..."

+04: EVENTS.

UIE (User Interface Engineering) Road Show Minneapolis
May 1, 2006.
Minneapolis, Minnesota U.S.A.


The Promised Land of Prototyping
By Henrik Olsen.
"While some may claim that prototyping isn't one of the wonders of the 
world, it's definitely a wonder of web and software development. It can 
help us design better products and overcome many of the hurdles that 
tend to surface during a development process."


Step by Step to AJAX
By Jayaram Krishnaswamy.
"This tutorial is not about Ajax Telamon from the Iliad who fought 
Hercules, but the latest and greatest (at least in the opinion of some) 
thing in web development. Ever since Google charmed the web at large 
with those AJAX-created Google Maps apps, the number of amount of 
adherence to AJAX has been growing exponentially. In this tutorial, we 
look mainly at the Microsoft way of scripting for AJAX.  Like my 
previous tutorials, it's step by step all the way after a brief 
Web Application..."

Why Ajax Sucks (Most of the Time)
Constructed by Chris McEvoy with apologies to Jakob Nielsen.
"This is a spoof article...Judging from the email I receive, the most 
controversial statement I have made in my Alertbox columns so far was 
to make "the use of Ajax" one of the mistakes in my list of top ten 
mistakes in Web design. For new or inexperienced Web designers, I stand 
by my original recommendation. Ajax: Just Say No. With respect to the 
use of ajax by highly skilled Web designers, I have changed my opinion 
somewhat: people who really know what they are doing can sometimes use 
ajax to good effect, though even experienced designers are advised to 
use ajax as sparingly as possible."
Note the URL - that's not Nielsen's site, nor Nielsen's December 

Don't be eval()
By Simon Willison.
Simon Willison gets down and dirty with JavaScript and explains why 
caution should be exercised in use of the eval() function. It may be 
the season of good will and all, but we can't have our caution getting 
all flabby now, can we?


Never Say No - Managing Change in a Project
By Martin Burns.
"So, your project is up and running. You've defined Project 
Requirements and had them signed off in blood by the sponsor. All you 
need to do now is watch your New Model Army get on and deliver. Right? 
Ahhh no. Life is never that simple, and you can reasonably safely bet 
hard currency that the requirements will change during delivery. 
Managing those changes is a potential cause of massive disruption to 
your project and your relationship with the client if you don't do it 
well. "

Real Life Project Management -- A Mix of Art and Science
By hesketh.com.
"Just ten short years ago, project management was thought of by many as 
an 'accidental profession' - a role within organizations created 
through happenstance and ad hoc training..."


Using Breadcrumbs as a Navigational Aid
By Free Usability Advice.
"Question: Breadcrumb trails seem to be common navigation aids. But in 
which ways and how often are they really used? Is it enough to rely 
only on the breadcrumb trail to tell the user where she is in the site 
hierarchy (for example when she arrives via a deep link), or do you 
still need to do that with headings, etc.?"

In Search Engines, Web Standards and Semantics Rule
By Straight Up Search.
"...We're not in 1995 anymore. Muddled, confusing, obfuscated, or 
jumbled markup are no longer acceptable means of hashing out a web 
page. Designers accustomed to building entire sites in WYSIWYG editors 
like Dreamweaver are going to be living on the street once their web 
publishing methods are weighed against online performance. It’s time to 
get in tune with reality: either get up to speed with web standards, or 
watch your online presence go the way of the buffalo."

AJAX for SEO Considered Harmful
By Straight Up Search.
"...So, how can you use AJAX to offer your customers a more engrossing 
interactive experience, and not lose your vital search engine 
positions? Well, just like moderation can fit chocolate cake into your 
diet, so too can it allow your site to use AJAX. The key here is to 
relegate your AJAX tools to a more of a support role..."

+09: PHP.

What's new in PHP 5 and PHP 6
By Ian Gilfillan.
"Most PHP installations out there are still running PHP 4.x. PHP 5.0 
has been out a while, and PHP 5.1.1 has just been released. For those 
of you who haven't yet upgraded, this month I look at some of the 
changes you can expect to find in the newer versions of PHP, as well as 
a preview of what you can look forward to in PHP 6..."


Ten Reasons to Learn and Use Web Standards
By Roger Johansson.
"If you're a web developer or designer new to the concept of web 
standards and are undecided on whether you should spend the time to 
learn all about them or not, here are some of the most important 
reasons for doing so."

Become a Better Standardista
By Stuart Langridge.
"Learning to develop web-sites using web standards is a bit like 
learning the guitar, it's fairly easy to get started but to master it 
takes years of hard work and learning. With the right approach you can 
become more efficient."

New Firefox Browser Bulks Up on 508 Compliance
By Joab Jackson.
"The Mozilla Foundation has posted a Voluntary Product Accessibility 
Template (VPAT) for the newest version of its Firefox Web browser, the 
first Section 508 compliance checklist ever posted for a browser, 
according to Aaron Leventhal, web accessibility architect for IBM Corp."

+11: TOOLS.

Yes No Now!
By Ian Lloyd.
"What is this? It's a tool for quickly generating accessible, 
XHTML-compliant yes/no radio button choices from a list, that's what. 
Another time-saver I put together 'cos I got fed up with hand coding 
all this nonsense. Try it out, hombre."


RIAs: The Technology Is Exciting, but They Really Do Help Users
By David Heller.
"Recently, there has been a lot of talk about Rich Internet 
Applications (RIAs), how they work, and how to choose the appropriate 
RIA technology. Unfortunately, so far, we've had few discussions about 
the value of RIAs to users and how RIA technologies let us create 
better, more usable Web applications."

Why People Matter
By Whitney Quesenbery.
"This column, Universal Usability, will explore the social benefits of 
human-centered design and ways in which we can create better 
conversations that include more people."

So the Necessary May Speak
By Luke Wroblewski.
"...Interactive products, by their very nature, tend to be complicated. 
They allow us to create and control large amounts of information and 
enable many unique interactions. As a result, there's a natural 
tendency for interface designs to over-communicate, or establish 
multiple forms of dialogue and vocabularies within a single application 
or interaction. Complicated concepts require more explanation, right? 
Not always..."

+13: XML.

Lean XHTML and Precise CSS
By Mike Rundle.
"In this entry I'll talk about my theories behind XHTML and CSS code, 
practices I feel are better than others, and my thoughts on image 

The Future of HTML (1/2): WHATWG
By Edd Dumbill.
"In this two-part series, Edd Dumbill examines the various ways forward 
for HTML that Web authors, browser developers, and standards bodies 
propose. This series covers the incremental approach embodied by the 
WHATWG specifications and the radical cleanup of XHTML proposed by the 
W3C. Additionally, the author gives an overview of the W3C's new Rich 
Client Activity. Here in Part 1, Edd focuses primarily on two 
specifications being developed by WHATWG: Web Applications 1.0 (HTML5) 
and Web Forms 2.0."

[Section one ends.]


+14: 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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