[webdev] Web Design Update: February 5, 2006

Laura Carlson lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Sun Feb 5 08:16:40 CST 2006

- Volume 4, Issue 33, February 5, 2006.

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.
13: XML.

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

[Contents ends.]

++ SECTION ONE: New references.


Seven Accessibility Mistakes (Part 1)
By Christian Heilmann.
"Designers, clients and site visitors all have a role to play in 
achieving higher levels of accessibility across the Web. In a two-part 
series, contributing author Christian Heilmann discusses the seven 
habits that fail to deliver accessibility and what you can do to create 
change. This week Christian brings us habits one, two and three. Be 
sure to visit next week for habits four, five, six and seven."

Captcha Usability Revisited: Google Inaccessible to Blind People
By Jesper Ronn-Jensen.
"An online petition is being circulated to all Internet users for the 
purpose of collecting signatures showing support for Google to make its 
word verification scheme accessible to the blind and visually 

WCAG 2: The Difference Between a Level and a Priority
By Gez Lemon.
"The draft version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 
uses success criteria that is organized into three levels of 
conformance. The method of grouping the success criteria differs in 
important ways from the approach taken in WCAG 1.0 where priorities are 
assigned to checkpoints, but I'm buggered if I understand the 
importance of the new approach. It seems to me that swapping the word 
'priority' with the word 'level' is meant to imply that level 3 success 
criteria should be considered important, whereas priority 3 checkpoints 

"Here at Accessites.org we will prove that accessible, usable websites 
built with universality and standards in mind need not be boring. We 
will show you stunning works of art crafted by some of today's most 
progressive accessible web developers and designers. Join us in 
honoring them and the sites they meticulously and lovingly build..."


In Search of the Holy Grail
By Matthew Levine.
"Just in case you might want a three-column layout that doesn't require 
the usual sacrifices, we thought we'd share this technique. Not that 
you'd want that or anything."

Explorer Exposed!
By Holly Bergevin and John Gallant.
"These CSS bugs are all found only in Internet Explorer, versions 5 and 

Cross-Browser Strategies For CSS
By Emil Stenstrom.
"This article will go through some useful techniques I use to get my 
sites to look the same in several modern browsers..."

Cross Browser Issues: CSS Hacks Explained, Tips, Tricks and Fixes
By Jennifer Sullivan Cassidy.
"Anyone who creates Cascading Style Sheets knows that Internet Explorer 
is a headache of a browser to build for because of the way it handles 
CSS. In this article, Jennifer goes into detail about how to deal with 
some of the most common bugs, and notes which ones may be fixed in IE 

CSS Standards Compliance in Internet Explorer 7
By Jennifer Sullivan Cassidy.
"There has been much anticipation and intense hype surrounding the 
release of Internet Explorer 7. Improvements range from better security 
issues to customization of user features; but the excitement in some 
web developers has been prompted by the compliancy standards of CSS 
that IE 7 embraces."

By John Wiseman.
"SkimCSS is web service that provides visitors with a huge collection 
of content all related to Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)."


Dreamweaver 8 Reviewed
By John Wilker.
"When I got my review copy of Studio 8, immediately I saved it from 
that suffocating shrink wrap it came in. The box sure looked nice. The 
packaging was first rate, much cleaner and more impressive than the MX 
2004 packaging. I tossed the box on the couch, grabbed my trusty laptop 
and set about checking this latest and greatest offering from 

Using the Default Documents to Speed Up Your Work Flow
By Adrian Senior.
"Have you wished for ways to speed up your workflow? Do you want more 
ideas for removing repetitive coding tasks? In this article we will 
look at using the Edit Document Templates extension (by Danilo Celic) 
to customize the New Document Templates. Talk about a Dreamweaver 

+04: EVENTS.

Higher Ed BlogCon 2006:
Transforming Academic Communities with New Tools of the Social Web
April 3-28, 2006.
An all-online event

Adaptive Hypermedia 2006 (AH06)
June 21-23, 2006.
Dublin Ireland


Taking a Content Inventory
By Donna Maurer.
"You take a content inventory because, before redesigning a website or 
intranet, you need to know what you have."


Getting Funky With Scopes and Closures
By Mark Wubben.
"The most powerful thing about the JavaScript programming language are 
it's scoping rules. In programming languages, scope is what makes the 
world go round. It defines the context in which the code executes. The 
context contains objects which are available to the code. To draw a 
real-world analogy: Say you're in your living room, and you want to 
watch some television. You can, because the television is in your 
living room. But what if you're in the kitchen?"

CSS Bubble Tooltips
By Alessandro Fulciniti.
Bubble Tooltips is some more CSS magic from Alessandro Fulciniti that 
creates some very nice Javascript and CSS based tooltips.  As with 
other scripts from Alessandro, this one uses unobtrusive Javascript and 
degrades perfectly!


Best 2005: Navigation
By Martin Hardee.
"Don't tell your neighborhood librarian, but sometimes there just isn't 
a single perfect way to organize things..."

Site Maps for Web Applications
By Drew McLellan.
"Site maps generally fall into two different categories:- those that 
document the navigational structure of the site, and those that 
describe interaction flow. As the days of enormous, static sites 
vignette to make way for sites driven by logic not links, we naturally 
see a shift in emphasis from navigational maps to those which document 
interaction. The question worth exploring, however, is can this form of 
documentation continue to prove both useful and a valuable investment 
of resources?"

The Lazy IA's Guide to Making Sitemaps
By Stephen Turbek.
"Sitemaps can be useful tools and are a whole lot easier when you 
separate the data from the visualization. After you have done these 
steps a few times, you will be able to update a sitemap in under a 

Why Good Website Navigation Is Important?
By Warren Baker.
"Web surfers are basically an impatient bunch and if a website is hard 
to figure out because the links are not obvious, they will click away 
never to return. Website navigation is one of the most crucial elements 
in determining the effectiveness of a website. This article discuses 
the basic principle of designing website navigation."

+08: PHP.

PHP for the Novice Programmer
By Albert Dieter Ritzhaupt.
"This e-book was developed to serve as an instructional resource for 
students in my Introduction to the Internet course that I teach for the 
University of North Florida and to serve the aspiring Information 
Technology (IT) student as a resource to learn about and how to use 
PHP. My hope is that this resource will be invaluable to the IT 
community, and help learning what I consider to be one of the best 
server-side scripting languages."

Improve Your Build Process with Ant
By Michael Kimsal.
"Web applications today are much more complex beasts than they were 
even just a few years ago. The largest sites may constitute thousands 
of files with complex directory structures, and migrating those between 
development, staging, and production environments can be difficult to 
say the least. My own experience with web applications dates back to 
1996. While I've seen a lot of changes over the years, keeping a large 
project in check never seems to get much easier, despite advances in 
CPU speed, RAM prices, broadband, and communication tools..."

Simplify PHP Development with WASP
by Brian Fioca.
"WASP (Web Application Structure for PHP) is a three-tier framework 
built on PHP 5. Lately, more software engineers are moving from 
cumbersome 'enterprise' languages such as Java and C# to languages such 
as Python and Ruby and PHP. With version 5, PHP has finally reached the 
point where these developers can feel at home in what used to be 
considered a hacker's language. By demonstrating that it is possible to 
create and use complicated, "enterprise-class" frameworks effectively 
in PHP 5, WASP will help more developers make the switch..."

Not All Bugs Are Worth Fixing
By Jeff Atwood.
To me, triage is about one thing: making life better for your users. 
And the best way to do that is to base your triage decisions on data 
from actual usage -- via exception reporting, user feedback, and beta 
testing. Otherwise, triage is just a bunch of developers and testers in 
a room, trying to guess what users might do."


Web Authoring Statistics
By Google.
"...In December 2005 we did an analysis of a sample of slightly over a 
billion documents, extracting information about popular class names, 
elements, attributes, and related metadata. The results we found are 
available below..."

Inaccessible Google Web Authoring Statistics
By Peter-Paul Koch.
"There's just one slight problem: the actual data is totally 
inaccessible. The reason is that Google uses that muppet of Web 
formats, SVG, for presenting its data, and that it doesn't give a 
text-only alternative."

The State of the Web Standards
By Bruce Lawson.
"...if the web standards brigade shake our heads in sorrow, the 
Semantic Web gang must be sobbing into their beer and phoning the 

Formulas and Confusion
By Michael Andrews.
"Let's arbitrarily divide user centered designs into two types: 
formulaic designs, and non-formulaic ones. Formulaic designs are the 
stock and trade of web agencies designing for the public -- things like 
news sites and online catalogs. They are ubiquitous, and generally all 
look and work the same, regardless of whose site it is. Generally 
people involved in such projects have a good idea about user needs even 
prior to starting: they are folks just like us, after all, and we have 
already talked to countless people like them for other similar 
projects. When we design for formulaic projects, we already have a good 
grasp of the solutions available to us. Designing an online shopping 
cart is not rocket science, it has been done countless times, users 
have expectations how they operate, and the work is mostly a matter of 
polishing the details."

Please Test Your Sites With IE7
By Chris Wilson.
"I'm very excited we've released a public preview of beta 2 that 
everyone can download. I'm also very happy that we've opened up a 
couple of different avenues to take your feedback."

Frequently Asked Questions for the IE7 Beta 2 Preview
By Al Billings.
"Hi, I'm Al Billings. I'm a project manager on the Internet Explorer 
team. I haven't posted before but you have probably seen comments from 
me from time to time on the blog. I'm involved in the regular work with 
it. Today, we have been getting a lot of questions in comments on our 
blog posts in response to the release of the IE7 Beta 2 Preview. I 
wanted to try to wrap most of these up in one post so people don't have 
to hunt for answers to common questions."

Installing and Uninstalling IE 7 Beta 2
By  Peter-Paul Koch.
"The release of Explorer 7 beta 2 has raised some questions, especially 
about maintaining the various IE versions you may have on your 
computer....but you can uninstall the beta quite easily and IE 6 is 
restored to you. I suppose I do a few people a favour when I write down 
clear installation and uninstallation descriptions and instructions."

IE 7  Beta 2 - A First Test Drive
By Robert Nyman.
"Microsoft has now publicly released IE 7 Beta 2 Preview, which you can 
download in their IE page. It is only available for Windows XP SP 2 as 
of now. Naturally, your favorite blogger (yeah, you know it's true, 
just admit it) has taken it out for a short test drive..."

HOWTO Spot a Wannabe Web Standards Advocate
By Henri Sivonen.
"If there is a match, you have spotted a wannabe..."

+10: TOOLS.

FireBug - Firefox Extension
By Joe Hewitt.
"FireBug is a new tool that aids with debugging Javascript, DHTML, and 
Ajax. It is like a combination of the Javascript Console, DOM 
Inspector, and a command line Javascript interpreter."

Colour Check
By etre.
"Our online Colour Check determines the colour difference and contrast 
between any two colours to maximize readability."


Define the Word Space to Suit the Size and Natural Letterfit of the Font
By Richard Rutter.
"If text is set ragged right, the word space (the space between words) 
can be fixed and unchanging. If the text is justified (set flush left 
and right), the word space must be elastic. In either case the size of 
the ideal word space varies from one circumstance to another, depending 
on factors such as letterfit, type color, and size. A loosely fitted or 
bold face will need a larger interval between the words. At larger 
sizes, when letterfit is tightened, the spacing of words can be 
tightened as well."

Choose a Comfortable Measure
By Richard Rutter.
"...The measure is the number of characters in single line of a column 
of text. HTML doesn't have a concept of columns per se, instead text is 
held within boxes. In CSS the width of a box is set using the width 
property with any unit of length, for example..."

Kern Consistently and Modestly Or Not All
By Richard Rutter.
"Kerning - altering the space between selected pairs of letters - can 
increase consistency of spacing in a word like Washington or Toronto, 
where the combinations Wa and To are kerned..."


Home Page Goals
By Derek Powazek.
"Home pages may get plenty of design attention, but that doesn't mean 
they don't need improvement."

Website Design Considerations for Older People
By Ann Light.
"Older users are an audience group that will grow in size and 
importance over the next few years. Our studies indicate that there are 
lots of simple things we can do to support their use of the internet."

Usability for Older Web Users
By Tim Fidgeon.
"Elderly users are an audience group that will grow in size and 
importance over the next few years. Our studies indicate that there are 
lots of simple things we can do to support their use of the internet. 
We believe that these recommendations should be taken into account by 
all sites, and efforts should be made to further expand our knowledge 
of how to design for these users."

Rules for Labeling Buttons
By Caroline Jarrett.
1. Label the button with what it does. 2. If the user doesn't want to 
do it, don't have a button for it.

Are Websites Judged in the Blink of an Eye?
By Gerry McGovern.
"People can get a strong impression of your website within one 
twentieth of a second, according to a new study. But it may not be a 
lasting impression."

To Know Your Customer, Know Their Carewords
By Gerry McGovern.
"If you use the words your customers care most about, your website will 
deliver more value. Best practice web management is about knowing your 
customers better than they know themselves."

What Matters Most?
By Gerd Waloszek.
"Recently, I had to use an application that reminded me of a very basic 
usability question: What matters most? Based on my experiences, I found 
the answer quite revealing, especially with respect to the role of 
usability efforts in the development process. For this article, let me 
put the initial question slightly differently: Which usability problems 
annoy me most?"

+13: XML.

SVG in Firefox 1.5
By Mozilla Developer Center.
"Firefox 1.5 marks the first official release of a browser from Mozilla 
that includes Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) functionality. The road 
this project has taken to release has been long, and we're excited to 
get it in the hands of content developers to see what they produce."

SVG In HTML Introduction
By Mozilla Developer Center.
"This article and its associated example shows how to use inline SVG to 
provide a background picture for a form. It shows how JavaScript and 
CSS can be used to manipulate the picture in the same way you would 
script regular XHTML. Note that the example will only work in browsers 
that support XHTML (not HTML) and SVG integration."

[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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