[webdev] Web Design Update: February 26, 2006

Laura Carlson lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Sun Feb 26 07:50:10 CST 2006

- Volume 4, Issue 36, February 26, 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:

05: FLASH.
09: PHP.
10: TOOLS.
13: XML.

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

[Contents ends.]

++ SECTION ONE: New references.


The DOM And Screen Readers
By Gez Lemon.
"This article investigates a method of providing client-side form 
validation through the DOM, and ensures that it works as expected with 
screen readers. Modern screen readers work relatively well with 
scripting, but it's the extra steps required to inform screen reader 
users that the content has changed that needs addressing."

Non-Visual Access to the Digital Library (NoVA):
The Use of the Digital Library Interfaces by Blind and Visually 
Impaired People
By Jenny Craven and Peter Brophy.
"NoVA's observations and other analyses of users searching for 
information on the web reveal that, unsurprisingly, people who are 
sighted find searching the web much easier than visually impaired 
people. Furthermore, people who are visually impaired, but possess 
enough sight to be able to see part of the screen (either up close or 
using magnification), find searching the web easier than those whose 
sight is severely impaired (i.e. those who are either totally blind or 
have very limited sight). These results confirm the findings of a 
parallel study conducted by Coyne and Nielsen, which estimated that 
'the Web is about three times easier to use for sighted users than it 
is for users who are blind or who have low vision' (Coyne and Nielsen 
2001 p 5), although we would not make such explicit claims. Again, as 
with NoVA, findings from this study also revealed that people using 
screen magnification appeared to have a higher success rate than those 
using a screen reader, although the difference was not statistically 

Web Accessibility and Learning Difficulties
By Tim Fidgeon.
"...Webcredible's analysis of usability testing sessions involving 
participants with learning difficulties has led to our suggesting these 
guidelines when designing for these users..."

Handheld for Blind and Low-vision Users
By Matt Bailey.
"VisuaAid releases a Mainstream handheld for blind and low-vision 
users. Called Maestro, the device is a compact, palm-like handheld that 
offers text-to-speech technology and tactile keyboard membrane over the 
touch screen, eliminating the use for a stylus. The handheld is build 
in the HP iPaq Pocket PC platform and VisuaAid claims..."

Increased Accessibility for Mobile Devices
By Matt Bailey.
"While browsing the latest press releases, this release caught my 
attention. 'Nuance introduces the Nuance Accessibility Suite; provides 
unprecedented User Accessibility to Mobile Devices.' Now, I'm usually 
skeptical of hype, especially when it is provided in the form of a 
press release, but this seemed very interesting, especially when 


By Mark Groen.
"...This tutorial is not meant to be a bible for all things css, and 
indeed some of the notes I've made may even be wrong, your mileage may 
vary. What it does do, is to show some methods of taking an existing 
Photoshop or Illustrator mock-up or existing web page created with 
tables and slices, and one way to turn it into a light weight CSS and 
xhtml based document..."

Web Design: Learning Basic HTML and CSS
By Wikibooks.
"Get started creating your own HTML and stylesheets!"

Intermediate HTML and CSS
By Wikibooks.
"Building on your skills to create structured HTML content that can be 
styled and layed out with your stylesheets"

Managing Data Exchange/CSS
By Wikibooks.

Programming: CSS
By Wikibooks.


Virtual Focus Groups: Taking the Discussion Online
By Chris Haas.
"There are significant limitations to this technique: we were lucky we 
were seeking input from computer-savvy college students with 
disabilities, and that they were familiar with the IM process. Lucky 
that they had their own accounts, which made things easier. It raised 
protection of human subjects questions: how do they digitally sign a 
consent form? How do we verify their identities? And it cast doubt on 
our own procedures: While it takes a full minute to speak aloud our 
welcome and orientation in a lab-based session, it is a full page of 
lifeless text when parceled out line by line to participants online. 
The process illuminated technological limitations: both Yahoo! IM and 
AOL IM proved unequal to the task of reliably holding two hours of 
transcript information in memory without crashing. Not everyone may 
have access to scan converters for screen recording. But conducting 
virtual focus groups had clear benefits: with electronic communication 
the limitations of space, geography, sign-language interpreter costs, 
and even scheduling fell by the wayside. Our researchers could conduct 
groups at nearly any time of day or night, all at the participants' 
convenience. And the software, unreliable as it was, was free."

+04: EVENTS.

World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia & 
June 26-30, 2006.
Orlando, Florida U.S.A.

July 30 - August 3 2006.
Boston, Massachusetts U.S.A.

+05: FLASH.

Flash is dead! Long live Flash!
By Phil Renaud.
"...Know what else is a primary reason standardists have come together? 
The banishment of flash User Interface sites. The emerging web at the 
turn of the century was something pretty scary if you're a fan of 
accessibility, and verily, web usability as a whole. But, we're over 
that now, right? Lengthy flash intros by the wayside, user interfaces 
no longer with the same techno song pounding in the background and a 
series of beeps that'd make you swear Hal 9000 was living in your PC? 
Weren't those the old days? Hasn't web 2.0 saved us from the damnation 
that was unusable and one-shot websites? Maybe not. Because it seems 
every time I turn around, there's a new variety of the old problem. 
Right now, I think that the next big usability and accessibility 
problem on the web could be the rampant use of AJAX..."


Quick Explanation of the Object Literal
By Christian Heilmann.
"Answering some emails, I realized lately that the object literal 
notation used in modern scripts does confuse JavaScript novices. So if 
the following is gobbledegook for you..."

Show Love to the Object Literal
By Christian Heilmann.
"If you are just getting your teeth into JavaScript, or if you used it 
in the past and re-discovered it in the wake of the AJAX craze you 
might have been baffled by scripts that come in a new syntax."

The Document Object Model
By David Flanagan.
Chapter 17  of the book 'JavaScript: The Definitive Guide, 4th Edition".

Ajax, Hijax and Accessibility
By Bruce Lawson.
"...If screenreaders didn't support any JavaScript, then they'd get the 
working, traditional page that gets hijaxed by JavaScript, and all 
would be well. We could ask all screenreader users to turn off 
JavaScript, as Derek Featherstone suggests, but it ain't gonna happen. 
(Have you ever tried to turn off JavaScript in IE? It's buried way down 
in the menus, and it's unreasonable to ask people to do that for just 
your site, when the reason that the screenreaders have some scripting 
capability is because 90% of the Web would be useless without it.) So a 
functioning Ajax page would be very, very difficult to make 

Object Oriented Javascript - Part 1
By Guyon Roche.
"To many object orientation purists, a programming language doesn't cut 
the mustard unless it supports some form of class inheritance, where 
one class can 'inherit' the behavior of another class. This week, 
you'll learn how JavaScript can support class inheritance for user 
defined classes."

Developing a Simple Validation Library in JavaScript
By Jagadish Chaterjee.
"This series of articles mainly lists some of the most commonly used 
JavaScript functions for client side validation of HTML forms. You can 
reuse these scripts to inject into server side controls easily..."


Gary Schar Interview: Microsoft Exec Talks IE7, RSS
By Nate Mook and Ed Oswald.
"Following a decision to release a stand alone version of IE7, browser 
development at Microsoft has come fast and furious. BetaNews this week 
sat down with Gary Schare, Director of IE Product Management, to 
discuss the changes coming in IE7, Firefox's growth, and how Microsoft 
will bring RSS to the mainstream."

Gary Share on IE7
By Daniel Glazman.
"Gary Share says only security and feature requests coming from users 
drove the expansion of IE7 to WinXP. Gary Share certainly omits one 
particularly important detail: Microsoft killed Netscape and it killed 
it well. But a small group of completely crazy people, incredibly poor 
and unorganized compared to the giant Microsoft, stood up and made a 
new browser that has kicked the giant's but. Microsoft can certainly 
answer strongly, they have the power, the money and the brains for 
that. Not only they can do it, but they need to do it. They need to do 
it because otherwise, the whole world will see it is possible to 
challenge Microsoft products even when zillions of people use them, 
even when they come bundled with Windows!"

Paul Dell vs Dell Computers
By Stephanie Sullivan.
"This is another one of those David and Goliath stories that always 
aggravate me. Another case of the big giant shoving around the little 
guy who has a smaller sword and shield in the hopes he'll just give 


Avoid Within-Page Links
By Jakob Nielsen.
"On the Web, users have a clear mental model for a hypertext link:
it should bring up a new page. Within-page links violate this model and 
thus cause confusion."

Jakob Nielsen and Ajax
By Tom Dell'Aringa.
"What do the usability guru and the emerging (stampeding) force that is 
Ajax have to do with each other? Today, Mr. Nielsen wrote in his 
Alertbox article this: 'On the Web, users have a clear mental model for 
a hypertext link: it should bring up a new page. Within-page links 
violate this model and thus cause confusion.' Ah, but what do we have 
in Ajax applications? 'Web pages' that act like applications, which are 
loaded with hyperlinks that absolutely do not navigate away from/reload 
the page! Mr. Nielsen says such links break the users mental model..."

Jakob Nielsen Strikes Again on a Usability Practice and He's Right
By Kim Krause Berg.
"...end users don't like the unexpected. They hate feeling dumb. User 
instructions would have been helpful, such as 'These links will take 
you to sections within the page.'  Then, I would have known what the 
links were for, and how to use them. Jakob Nielsen writes, 'To avoid 
confusing users, you must communicate exceptions to their expectations 
in advance.' Exactly..."

+09: PHP.

On PHP - My Thoughts
By Mike Papageorge.
"...Herein lies the main problem: people with little or no education in 
the realm of programming are programming! And these are oftentimes 
people who don't understand what POST is, or GET, or even a header for 
that matter. The fact is, PHP makes it easy to make a dynamic website, 
just as Dreamweaver makes it easy to write HTML, and we're all familiar 
with the mess that program spits out. So of course people are going to 
write spaghetti code, they are going to repeat themselves, and the 
result is going to be a pain the in ass to maintain and improve. I 
should know, I have no formal programming education, and when I look 
back on the first few scripts I wrote I cringe - well, now I laugh - at 
how green I was (I also wonder how I had the knackers to charge for the 

+10: TOOLS.

CSS Editors
By css-discuss Wiki.
Huge listing of CSS editors.


Em Vs Percent Widths
By css-discuss Wiki.
"Both em and % are relative measures. The difference is what each is 
relative to. Em is always relative to font size. % is relative to the 
containing block, usually the body, a div, or a table, unless applied 
to font-size, in which case it applies to the parent font-size..."


Usability for Rich Internet Applications
By by Donna Maurer.
"After struggling for years to design Internet applications around the 
limitations of HTML, I have been very excited by the recent release of 
a range of Internet applications with increased richness and 
interactivity. Rich Internet applications (RIAs) can provide 
opportunities to design much better user experiences. They can be 
faster, more engaging and much more usable. However, this improvement 
is not without its downside?RIAs are much more difficult to design than 
the previous generation of page-based applications. The richer 
interaction requires a better understanding of users and of 
human-computer interaction (HCI). Although there is a lot of HCI 
material and research available, it can be difficult to determine how 
it applies to this new environment. In this article, I provide some 
practical tips for designing usable RIAs, based on fundamental 
principles of HCI."

Trust and Blame
By Whitney Quesenbery.
The more we rely on our electronic devices, the more we are trusting 
them to be there when we need them and to safeguard our information and 
our privacy."

Designing Websites for Older Users
By Tim Fidgeon
"...Although more research into the internet behaviors and preferences 
of elderly users is obviously required, we would like to suggest the 

+13: XML.

XML in the Real World
By Scott Fegette.
"Learn what XML is, what purpose it serves, and how you can put it to 
use in your projects..."

[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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