[webdev] Web Design Update: January 10, 2006.
lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Tue Jan 10 06:27:56 CST 2006
+++ WEB DESIGN UPDATE.
- Volume 4, Issue 29, January 10, 2006.
An email newsletter to distribute news and information about web design
++ISSUE 29 CONTENTS.
SECTION ONE: New references.
What's new at the Web Design Reference site?
New links in these categories:
02: CASCADING STYLE SHEETS.
04: INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE.
08: STANDARDS, GUIDELINES & PATTERNS.
13: What Can You Find at the Web Design Reference Site?
++ SECTION ONE: New references.
Writing a Good Accessibility Statement
By Gez Lemon.
"Accessibility statements are an ideal place to empower visitors to
your website. Most accessibility statements are too technical, and
don't necessarily address the needs of the visitor. Those that do
address the needs of visitors often have the information lost in a
myriad of other information that is unlikely to be understood by the
average visitor to the website. What should and shouldn't be included
in an accessibility statement?"
Massachusetts Grapples with Open Source's Cost to the Disabled
By Lisa Vaas.
"...The commonwealth can in all likelihood figure out a standard of
accessibility for the disabled, whether that standard is encapsulated
in the open-source OpenDocument format or whether the door is left open
for proprietary formats such as Microsoft Corp.'s Open XML Office. But
what support will there be for the infrastructure needed to train the
individuals who will have to learn wholly new technology..."
Advocates For Disabled Wary of Open Source
By Linda Tucci.
"Beleaguered Massachusetts CIO Peter Quinn has resigned, but the
controversy surrounding his decision to adopt OpenDocument formats
won't end with his departure. State officials haven't indicated they
plan to amend Quinn's plan to adopt OpenFormat standards by Jan. 1,
2007 -- a deadline that has advocates for people with disabilities
ODF Subpar for the Disabled? Not so Fast says Google Researcher
By David Berlind.
"...the designers of the OpenDocument Format chose to use XForms; the
same technology that is the standard forms technology for the Web. By
itself, this seems like no big deal. But, as it turns out, the ability
to fill out electronic forms is critical for PWDs. As such, XForms -
the newest forms technology for the Web ? was designed with
accessibility in mind. Raman, who is blind, should know: as an employee
at IBM for most of the last five years, he was one of the authors of
the World Wide Web Consortium's XForms standard. According to Raman,
by virtue of its reliance on XForms, ODF has actually inherited some of
the Web's key accessibility features..."
+02: CASCADING STYLE SHEETS.
CSS Tricks for Custom Bullets
By David Sawyer McFarland.
"Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) give Web developers precise control over
a page's typography and layout. One secret weapon of CSS-based designs
is the background property, which adds images and color to the
background of any element on a Web page."
Overuse of Floats Considered Harmful
By David Baron.
"...Floats were intended to be used to take small pieces of content out
of the flow and let the rest of the text wrap around them. They were
not intended to be used for the main content of a page, nor were they
designed for it. Nevertheless, use of floats for the main content of a
page is quite common today...I see this situation as similar to the use
of tables for layout that is now quite widely accepted as misuse. The
current overuse of floats is often done with the goal of fixing one of
the problems caused by the misuse of tables: incorrect use of semantic
Cross Browser Issues: CSS Hacks, Understanding Compatibility
By Jennifer Sullivan Cassidy.
"One of the greatest problems with CSS, or Cascading Style Sheets, is
the issue of cross browser compatibility. What may look great in
Mozilla browsers looks terrible in Internet Explorer, and may totally
break in Netscape. The biggest mistake a web designer or developer
using CSS can make is to design for only one browser, or to assume that
since the largest group of viewers use IE, to disregard its flaws that
are apparent in other browsers. This article and the next in this
series will cover a few of the cross browser issues in CSS, why the
code acts the way it does, and how you can either fix it, or avoid it
altogether. But before we jump right into the CSS hacks and fixes, I
want to explore a cornerstone in the foundation of good CSS
programming: understanding browser compatibility."
June 6-9, 2006.
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania U.S.A.
+04: INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE.
Classification and Categorization: A Difference that Makes a Difference
By Elin K. Jacob.
"Examination of the systemic properties and forms of interaction that
characterize classification and categorization reveals fundamental
syntactic differences between the structure of classification systems
and the structure of categorization systems. These distinctions lead to
meaningful differences in the contexts within which information can be
apprehended and influence the semantic information available to the
individual. Structural and semantic differences between classification
and categorization are differences that make a difference in the
information environment by influencing the functional activities of an
information system and by contributing to its constitution as an
Ajax Link Tracker
By Glenn Jones.
"One of the more interesting aspects of Ajax is the ability to track a
user's interaction within the browser. I wanted to investigate
navigation patterns, so I have written an Ajax based link tracker. If
you press the 'Ctrl' and "X" keys you will be presented with an overlay
which displays links usage by percentage. This functionality was
API documentation for Mozilla's XMLHttpRequest
By Laurens van den Oever.
Unfortunately in Internet Explorer they are a common source of memory
leaks. Therefore I propose a method to create closures that don't leak
By Emrah Baskaya.
routines. Most can be annoying too, if they simply serve the purpose to
lamely look cool, while they may actually only distract the user.
However, when used properly, they can really add to the user
experience, and increase the usability of your site. Also, with the
advent of the DOM, the more widespread usage of new generation
browsers, and the adoption of xmlHttpRequest and other technologies
which all together are called AJAX, the need for notifying user with
what is going on with simple animations can become a necessity, such as
using fading colors and resizing elements. Actually, I am putting such
an animation to good use on this very page, while step-by-step
explaining the main animation function for resizing. The principles are
all the same, but the color fading was inspired by the Yellow Fade
Technique For Dummies, this one is a versatile function that you can
fade any color to any color. It is also a very light-weight script that
you can modify to use for any type of animation, as you see on this
page. If you have specific questions for implementing the scripts in
your own sites, feel free to drop me a mail using the contact page oh
Using Meaningful and Stable Categories to Support Exploratory Web
Two Formative Studies
By Bill Kules and Ben Shneiderman.
"Categorizing web search results into comprehensible visual displays
using meaningful and stable classifications can support user
exploration, understanding, and discovery. We report on two formative
studies in the domain of U.S. government web search that investigated
how searchers use categorized overviews of search results for complex,
exploratory search tasks. The first study compared two overview
conditions vs. a control (N=18). The overviews were based on the
federal government organizational hierarchy. With the overview
conditions, participants noticed missing results more often than
participants in the control. They also found pages of interest deeper
within the results. The overview conditions received significantly
higher subjective ratings. The second study compared an overview based
on automated clustering vs. the government hierarchy overview (N=12),
and the results suggest that domain knowledge and task influenced the
preferred overview. The studies lend support to the use of compact
overviews based on meaningful and stable categories tightly coupled
with ranked result lists."
Usability Studies 101: Making Cookies
By Joseph Carrabis.
"The NextStage CRO explains how to develop visitor-specific navigation
for your site so that your customers come back and convert. "
Better Web Usability Through a Text-Size Switcher Built with PHP and CSS
"This tutorial will show you how to add such a text size switcher to
your Web pages using PHP and CSS, thereby immediately making your Web
site more accessible and scoring you useful brownie points from
everyone over the age of 50."
+08: STANDARDS, GUIDELINES & PATTERNS.
By Joe Clark.
"...A failed redesign is a Web page created from scratch, or
substantially updated, during the era of Web standards that nonetheless
ignores or misuses those standards. A failed redesign pretends that
valid code and accessibility guidelines do not exist; it pretends that
the 21st century is frozen in the amber of the year 1999. It indicates
not merely unprofessional Web-development practices but outright
incompetence. For if you are producing tag-soup code and using tables
for layout in the 21st century, thats what you are: Incompetent..."
Professional vs. Unprofessional Web Development Practices
By Virginia DeBolt.
"...The question becomes, for me, Are we teaching people to know
better? If your students leave your classroom thinking tables-based
layouts and tag soup are the way to do things, then have you failed as
a teacher? Have you turned people loose in the workplace who are less
than professional? I think the answer is yes..."
LinkScan is a link checking tool.
The Positive Side Effect of Big Text: Less Text
By Justin Reese.
"Like everything, the key is moderation. Too much of anything is a bad
idea. However, if you're going to err on the side of bigger or smaller,
I'd take bigger. Now I'm not talking 48 px type everywhere, but 14 px
vs 10 px with the occasional big headline. Newspaper design has been
around a lot longer than web design and they're still sticking with big
huge headlines. And then there's the positive side effect of big text:
less text. The bigger the text the less you write and nearly every
corporate website could use less words. Better words are more important
than less words, of course, but less words would be a great start."
Why Big is In
By Garrett Dimon.
"...Big isn't just about style, it's about being practical. For so
long, designers were stuck on creating small pixel perfect designs with
small fonts and huge quantities of information in a small areas. It was
busy, overwhelming, and usually difficult to read. Now, there's a
newfound appreciation for simple, and that's a good thing. Long live
Big, Beautiful, Dumb
By Paul Scrivens.
"...big is good in portions as it always has been since the beginning
of design. Thinking that making everything big makes things easier is
silly just the same as thinking that making everything small saves the
person the trouble of having to move their eyes across the screen.
Recognizing a trend and taking portions of it to work in your own
designs is a great thing. Seeing a trend and applying it to everything
you do might not be the best of ideas."
Yeah, But Can You Give Me a Reference? 2.0
By Kath Straub, Susan Weinschenk, and John Whalen.
HFI's 2005 annual summary of usability research.
Teach Yourself XML in 24 Hours, Part 2
By Michael Morrison.
"This week we continue learning about Xlink. Some of the topics covered
are addressing with XPointer, linking with XLink, understanding XLink
attributes and more"
[Section one ends.]
++ SECTION TWO:
+13: 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.]
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+ 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
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