[webdev] Web Design Update: February 19, 2006
lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Sun Feb 19 07:58:55 CST 2006
+++ WEB DESIGN UPDATE.
- Volume 4, Issue 35, February 19, 2006.
An email newsletter to distribute news and information about web design
++ISSUE 35 CONTENTS.
SECTION ONE: New references.
What's new at the Web Design Reference site?
New links in these categories:
02: CASCADING STYLE SHEETS.
04: EVALUATION & TESTING.
10: STANDARDS, GUIDELINES & PATTERNS.
15: What Can You Find at the Web Design Reference Site?
++ SECTION ONE: New references.
Should Ignorance Be Our Real Target?
By Ben Buchanan.
"One point people are missing is that we really are talking about
discrimination. Making an inaccessible website means treating some
customers as second-class citizens. Target is refusing to serve them,
just as effectively as if they turned their backs on them
in-store...Now let's cast aside the moral high ground, since it doesn't
motivate business. Plain and simple, accessibility is the law. As Joe
Clark has pointed out, Target is bound by law not to discriminate
against someone based on skin colour, religion or disability. It's one
of those rare laws which are based on enforcing some basic humanity on
the free market...So if it's the right thing to do and it's the law
anyway... why do we still see so many inaccessible websites?...In part,
I think it's ignorance...People don't know that it's the law, they
don't understand why it's the right thing to do, they don't know that
it's entirely achievable...If we can attack ignorance, if we can inform
enough people, then maybe one day the lawsuits won't be required so
much any more. I suspect that sometimes the big stick will still have
to come out, but maybe afterwards people will be more receptive to the
NFB vs. Target in Perspective
By Matt May.
"...I'm hesitant to paint Target as the solitary enemy of users with
disabilities. Let's be clear: The accessibility of Target's site is
terrible. But in a short review I did of big-box store sites this
morning, they're not the worst around. In fact, they're pretty much the
middle of the range...So, to what do we attribute the utter
inaccessibility of many e-commerce sites: ignorance, miscommunication,
or malice? I've seen all three in practice. Often, it doesn't take the
threat of a lawsuit to get site owners to come around; they merely need
to understand the problems, and what they can do to solve them, in
order of impact on the user. But I've also seen cases where it's a
legal game of chicken: some companies refuse to comply with a legal
mandate that they feel doesn't clearly apply to them. They're gambling
that the cost of being found guilty of non-compliance is lower than
that of conforming to a standard that may not apply to them. This
strategy falls apart like a house of cards as soon as one of them is
found liable. And it's a tactic I find particularly odious when they're
consciously acting to keep users with disabilities out. The fact is
that the Web has afforded many people with disabilities new-found
potential to buy and sell things, work, manage finances, find
community, gather news, and access government services - all things
able-bodied people take for granted. When people with disabilities
received legal protection, it wasn't given out of pity. It was given to
protect their right to participate equally in society. Web designers
and developers can enable that equal participation with every site they
design, using modern coding principles. Or they can hide in a castle or
a cave, clutching their legacy code, certain that those evil, litigious
disabled people are out to get them."
Unified Web Evaluation Methodology (UWEM0.5)
"Welcome to the webpages of the Unified Web Evaluation Methodology
version 0.5 (UWEM0.5). This draft methodology is the result of a joint
effort by 24 European organizations in three European projects combined
in a cluster to develop a Unified Web Evaluation Methodology. The
methodology is based on the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
1.0 [WCAG10] and will be synchronized with the foreseen migration from
WCAG 1.0 to WCAG 2.0 [WCAG20] in the near future. The UWEM0.5 offers an
interpretation of the guidelines agreed among stakeholders within the
Accessibility Testing and Reporting with TAW3
Patrick H. Lauke.
"This tutorial steps users through the process of evaluating web
content for accessibility using WAVE 3.5. As with all tools,
human-mediated evaluation is the best approach, and WAVE is designed
specifically to help users make the kind of judgments that only humans
Validating a Vendor: Evaluating Claims of Accessibility Expertise
By Glenda Watson Hyatt.
"...In other scenarios, an organization may procure an online
application, such as a dynamic mortgage rate calculator, from external
vendors to save time over developing it in-house. This externally
developed application still needs to meet the organization's web
accessibility policy, thus finding a vendor with web accessibility
expertise is crucial. The challenge lays in selecting the
best-qualified vendor to meet the organization's specific needs. How do
you effectively evaluate vendors' claims of web accessibility
Deconstructing Multimedia: Break It Up for Accessibility
By Andrew Kirkpatrick.
"Multimedia to web technologists is like indecency to the Supreme
Court-we know it when we see it, but can't define it clearly. To
some, multimedia means a movie with video and audio. To others, a
silent Flash movie with animation qualifies. Some will make the
argument that a web page that has text and images is multimedia. I'm
giving up trying to define what it is because the term itself has
little value to the process of making content accessible.In web
accessibility, multimedia is what we generally call something we can't
make very accessible. If we break multimedia into constituent parts,
making such content accessible is broken into more familiar tasks."
Creating Accessible CSS
"This article gives an overview of CSS, tips on how to use CSS to your
advantage, and common pitfalls to avoid when using CSS."
CSS in Action: Invisible Content Just for Screen Reader Users
"Most of the techniques for making Web content accessible to screen
readers are invisible to visual users. This article examines a few
circumstances in which hiding text from visual users can be beneficial,
and proposes a solution which allows HTML to be hidden without
compromising the accessibility or semantic integrity of the document,
and which works across browsers and platforms."
+02: CASCADING STYLE SHEETS.
By Eric A. Meyer.
"I'd like to share something that will be old news to readers of CSS:
The Definitive Guide and all of my other books, but nonetheless needs
to be said out loud, in public, for everyone to hear. The property
line-height can accept unitless number values. You can also give
line-height united values, though generally you shouldn't. But unitless
numbers are just fine for this property."
Internet Explorer and CSS Issues
By Trenton Moss.
"Internet Explorer has a number of CSS issues. Find out what these
issues are and how to get around them, so your website looks the same
in all browsers."
CSS Drop Column Layout
By Stuart Colville.
"When I created this site I wanted to have 4 columns which are all
fixed width. The idea was that if you resized the window then the
columns would drop down when there wasn't enough room....To achieve the
desired effect I am using floats. A natural property of a floated
element is to drop down when there isn't enough room until there is
enough space. This means that the column on the furthest right will
drop when the window is re-sized. One of the issues with this would be
if the primary content column was not high enough the displaced column
would wrap underneath it. To combat this undesired effect I have used a
wrapper with a left margin to 'hold' the 3 smaller columns to the right
of the primary content."
CSS: An Introduction
By Adrian Senior.
"In this tutorial we will take a look at the very basics of CSS, if you
are new to cascading style sheets this is the place to start..."
"You've heard the buzz about the separation of style from content, but
you are stuck in the world of nested tables and deprecated markup. If
so, you have come to the right place! Using CSS to style your (X)HTML
files, will benefit you and your visitors in many ways. The following
chapters cover all the basics of CSS design..."
What is CSS and Why Should You Use It?
By Christopher Jason.
"CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets. It is a markup language used to
format the 'look' of web pages. This includes overall layout, text
size, style, and formatting, table formatting, link properties, and
more. When used correctly, CSS allows one to define the look of an
entire site in one single document. If you're a Web person who doesn't
already utilize CSS, you should be very excited right now, as it can
quickly become your new best friend. Some of you, however, may be
Using Basic CSS In Web pages
By Christopher Jason.
"In this article, I'll show how to use basic CSS in your Web pages..."
Creating Your First Website - Part 3: Adding Content to Pages
By Jon Varese.
"This tutorial shows you how to add content to web pages in Macromedia
Dreamweaver 8. You can add many different kinds of content to web
pages, including graphics, Macromedia Flash files, Flash video, and
text-to name just a few. After you've added content to your pages, you
can preview your work in a browser so that you can see what it will
look like on the web."
Creating Your First Website - Part 4: Formatting Your Page with CSS
By Jon Varese.
"This tutorial shows you how to format text on your page using
Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) in Dreamweaver. CSS provides you with
greater control over the appearance of your page by letting you format
and position text in ways that HTML cannot."
+04: EVALUATION & TESTING.
Usability Testing on the Cheap
By Ned Batchelder.
"You've built a product. You think it's ready for real users. How do
you find out? You do usability testing. This is a specialized
discipline, and there are specialists out there who know what they are
doing. You should hire one of them to do usability tests on your
product. They will do a much better job than you can, and you will get
much better results. But if you can't, here's how to do it yourself."
Practical Usability Testing
By Joshua Kaufman.
"...The first article in this series is on one of my favorite
practices: usability testing. The most critical aspect of user-centered
design, usability testing breaks down the wall between the designer and
user, and allows us to see how real users do real tasks in the real
world. There are many benefits of usability testing, including
uncovering pitfalls in a current system before a redesign and
evaluating the usability of a system during and after design. Usability
testing should be an iterative practice, completed several times during
the design and development life-cycle. The end result is an improved
product and a better understanding of the users that we're designing
By Matt Queen.
"Interaction modeling makes design decisions explicit. In principle
it's simple: record what users "should" do, what they actually do, and
then explain the differences between the two. Of course there's more to
it than that, and Matt Queen gives us all the details in this story."
International Conference on Technology and Persons with Disabilities
March 20-25, 2006.
Los Angeles, California U.S.A.
Access U 2006
May 11-12 2006.
Austin, Texas U.S.A.
Innovation Makes Flash-Based JKRowling.com Accessible
By Bob Regan.
"When creating an accessible Flash site, designers must apply many of
the same concepts used in HTML. With Flash, designers have far more
flexibility in the types of objects and controls they can create. While
the solutions are often quite simple from a technical standpoint,
designers need to think about the experience of the site from the
perspective of the end user. Designers need to ask themselves how a
blind person, a person with a mobility impairment, or a person who is
deaf would experience the site. With a little research into
accessibility and advice from users with disabilities along the way,
Lightmaker built a truly unique site. The JKRowling.com site
illustrates how to build an accessible rich-media site in Flash."
Yahoo! User Interface Library
"The Yahoo! User Interface Library is a set of utilities and controls,
using techniques such as DOM scripting, HTML and AJAX. The UI Library
Utilities facilitate the implementation of rich client-side features by
enhancing and normalizing the developer's interface to important
elements of the browser infrastructure (such as events, in-page HTTP
requests and the DOM). The Yahoo UI Library Controls produce visual,
interactive user interface elements on the page with just a few lines
of code and an included CSS file. All the components in the Yahoo! User
Interface Library have been released as open source under a BSD license
and are free for all uses."
By Jon Brundage.
"As we discussed in our premier issue, there are challenges associated
in complying with W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
Checkpoint 6.3: 'Ensure that pages are usable when scripts, applets, or
other programmatic objects are turned off or not supported. If this is
not possible, provide equivalent information on an alternative
accessible page.' You may see instructions in accessibility programming
present. If you take the instructions literally, then for every
have seen this practiced in code. But there are several instances where
a noscript tag is not required. In this article I'll show you some
examples where the noscript tag can be intrusive, and even creates a
By Bob Easton.
"Great work by James Edwards brings this blog briefly out of hiatus.
James has completed the testing and results compilation for our
interact with them. As with the first set of results, they are
extensive and fill a wide table. You will find them published on a
wider page for better presentation..."
ASK - AJAX Source Kit
By Robert Nyman.
consequence surrounding its hype is that a lot of web sites have
implemented it without catering to common usability and accessibility
factors. This is something that has saddened me, and therefore I
developed ASK - AJAX Source KIT to address that while at the same time
offer a light-weight library to implement AJAX functionality without
having to worry about web browser differences. The basic idea of it is
to implement AJAX without sacrificing those factors and at the same
time do it in an unobtrusive way, meaning that there's no need for any
event handlers or extra elements in the HTML code. All that is needed
the elements one wants to apply the ASK functionality to, and then
implement accessible as well as AJAX-enhanced versions of the content
that shall be retrieved dynamically."
Rails is the Devil on Your (client-side) Shoulder
By Dan Webb.
helpers; Rails is the devil on your DOM Scripting shoulder. Brace
yourselves... I've always kind of sat astride both the client-side (web
standards, accessibility etc) camp and the server-side camp. When Ajax
took off and the server-side people got hold of DOM Scripting most of
the careful thought by client-side people like Stuart Langridge, Bobby
Van Der Luis, and Jeremy Keith got trampled over in the rush for Web
2.0 greatness. While the client-side people are still carefully
prodding around the area exploring important areas like usability and
accessibility and consolidating good practices like Graceful
Degradation and Progressive Enhancement the server-side people are busy
trying to shove it all under the carpet (or under several layers of
library code anyway). The problem is it's just not that simple though.
Graceful degradation and progressive enhancement are practices we must
follow if we aren't going to shove Ajax right back into the pit with
DHTML. So, what's up with Rails then? Well, on the good side I think
the Prototype library that lies underneath the Ajax helpers is a damn
good library. It's not too big, it's nicely written on the whole and
Alternate Ajax Techniques, Part 1
By Nicholas C. Zakas.
By now, nearly everyone who works in web development has heard of the
term Ajax. Most articles on Ajax have focused on using XMLHttp as the
means to achieving such communication, but there are other methods
which we'll explore in this series of articles.
SEO For The Big Three
By Dave Davies.
"Ranking your website highly on one of the 'big three' search engines
(Google, Yahoo or MSN) is a daunting task let alone ranking your
website highly on all three. Three engines, three algorithms, three
different sets of rules - and yet there are websites out there that
have first page rankings across them all ? how do they do it?..."
If You Have No Imagination, Click Here...
By Tim Seifert.
"Writing 'click here' for all your links looks very amateurish, looks
damn stupid, and ignores the fact that not everybody 'clicks' on a link
with a mouse. It's also ignorant of how search engines index pages
(they use the words displayed in the link). Printed copies of pages
look stupid, and are missing what could be vital information to
understanding the document (that's your fault for bad authoring, not
the user's fault for printing a page)."
Using XML: A PHP Developer's Primer
By Adam Delves.
"This series of articles will focus on XML, its applications in modern
day web development and how PHP fits into this niche. In this article,
we will focus specifically on the tools provided to us by PHP which
enable us to manipulate XML data sources."
Abstract Classes in PHP - Working with PHP 5
By Alejandro Gervasio.
"In this last part of the series, I'll explain the key points of
abstract classes in PHP 5, and additionally provide you with some
hands-on examples. This should give you a clear idea of how to utilize
them within the powerful Object Model implemented in the latest version
of PHP.They start with an overview of the PHP5 object model and how it
make abstract classes much easier than before. They continue,
mentioning a pointless and unusual practice of calling class methods
out of context. Finally, they set up an example of the use of an
abstract class in the structure of the PHP5 object model..."
By David Sklar.
"Whether you're a PHP newbie or a wizard, your programs are going to
have bugs in them. Nobody's perfect. This article gives you some
techniques for finding and fixing the problems in your programs. It
covers three topics..."
A Beginners Introduction to PHP's File Functions
By Dennis Pallett.
"Welcome to this beginner's introduction to PHP's file functions. In
this article I will take you through all the inbuilt file system
functions, and explain them. This article is mainly geared towards
beginners, but it could still be useful to more advanced developers as
a simple refresher."
+10: STANDARDS, GUIDELINES & PATTERNS.
A Message to Clueless Website Authors
By Tim Seifert.
"...This page has been written, over a few years, as I've encountered
website after website which was badly written; with new sections added
as I've discovered yet more annoying and stupid sites..."
Don't Be a Beta Hater
By Jeffery Zeldman.
"...IE7 beta's standards accuracy is already very good and getting
better, and, despite what you might have heard to the contrary,
Microsoft's engineers are working with the community (and in particular
with The Web Standards Project) to identify and fix CSS bugs and errors
and to compensate for hacks like the one seen here. Using IE7? Finding
bugs? Microsoft and The Web Standards Project want to hear from you."
Graded Browser Support
By Nate Koechley.
"...Expecting two users using different browser software to have an
identical experience fails to embrace or acknowledge the heterogeneous
essence of the Web. In fact, requiring the same experience for all
users creates a barrier to participation. Availability and
accessibility of content should be our key priority..."
Design Pattern Library
"Welcome to the Yahoo! Design Pattern Library. We are very happy to be
sharing our library with the design and development community. This is
our first drop of what we hope to be a monthly release cycle for the
publication of patterns..."
Colour Contrast Analyser Firefox Extension
By Gez Lemon.
"I've written a Firefox extension that reveals the colour contrast of
all elements in the DOM. If you evaluate websites for colour contrast,
this extension will be useful for saving you time, and also take out
the guesswork required to determine which colours to test."
AJAX Regular Expression Evaluator
An AJAX regular expression evaluator that helps create PCRE, Posix and
Quick Lookup is an online AJAX enabled tool programming tool. It gives
information page says "Please keep in mind that this service is not
meant to replace full-sized references / manuals. This service exists
for when you just need a quick syntax check, param list, or
Typography and the Aging Eye: Typeface Legibility for Older Viewers
with Vision Problems
By Paul Nini.
"The population is rapidly aging and becoming a larger share of the
marketplace. 13 percent of the population is currently over 65 years
old. In 30 years that group will double to 66 million people. People
change as they age. Sensory, cognitive and motor abilities decline. The
built environment is not typically created with the needs of the aging
population in mind. How does the choice of typeface in signage systems,
for example, impact the older viewer who is experiencing vision
problems typical to that age group? Are certain typefaces more suitable
to the aging eye?"
10 Realistic Steps to a Faster Web Site
By Alexander Kirk.
"I have written my master thesis in computer sciences on this topic and
will refer to it throughout the guide."
Authoring Webpages: HTML, XHTML and DOCTYPEs
"An important decision you must make before starting to create a
website is the version of (X)HTML that the web pages will conform to..."
[Section one ends.]
++ SECTION TWO:
+15: 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.]
+ SUBSCRIPTION INFO.
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+ TEXT EMAIL NEWSLETTER (TEN).
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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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