[webdev] Web Design Update: March 5, 2006

Laura Carlson lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Sun Mar 5 07:56:29 CST 2006

- Volume 4, Issue 37, March 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:

05: FLASH.
10: PHP.

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

[Contents ends.]

++ SECTION ONE: New references.


Using Accessible Video and Audio to Enhance e-Learning for Disabled 
By Ross Little.
"Audio and video can offer richness and increased inclusively in 
education but can present challenges to access for people with sensory 
impairments. Ross Little looks at how accessibility solutions can be 
quickly and effectively added to video content..."

Provide Audio Descriptions for Video or Animated Content - General 
By Skills For Access.
"Video normally contains a significant amount of visual and audio 
information, and understanding of the content requires access to both 
these channels. But people who cannot see the visual content of the 
video may as a result be unable to fully understand the video if visual 
or audio events happen and are not detectable or their context 
explained by the video's soundtrack. For example, someone in a video 
may make a facial expression which adds an ironic or sarcastic tone to 
what they say, but this important cue is entirely visual so would be 
missed by anyone unable to see the video. The same goes for some aural 
events - for example, if a character fires a gun, the gunshot will be 
heard, but anyone unable to see the film would not know who fired the 
gun without an additional explanation. Thus, the provision of audio 
descriptions - additional spoken audio information explaining or 
describing events - is necessary to enable understanding..."

What is Accessibility?
By Robert Nyman.
"But when making a web site accessible to people with disabilities, why 
wouldn't we at the same time make it accessible to people who aren't 
using Windows and Internet Explorer? It's a mindset and an attitude 
that go hand-in-hand for me. Surely, everyone wants to reach an 
audience as wide as possible, right? A thing that bothers me, though, 
is when accessibility advocates proclaim that we have to stay away from 
using JavaScript, Flash et al, all in the name of making it 
accessibility. Accessibility and using JavaScript, for example, aren't 
mutually exclusive. It's all about progressive enhancement. Build a 
common ground and then implement enriching features in an unobtrusive 
way that doesn't rule out accessibility. So, let's stop bickering about 
what we read into the word accessibility, and instead start focusing on 
reaching as many people as possible with this wonderful medium called 
the Internet!"


Bookend Lists: Using CSS to Float a Masthead
By Andrew B. King.
"Learn how to create that 'bookend' look with lists and CSS
positioning. This CSS-layout technique saves a significant amount of 
XHTML code over tables."

Progressive Enhancement
By css-discuss Wiki.
"The term 'Progressive  Enhancement' has been used as the flip-side to 
'Graceful Degradation'..."


A Process for Incorporating Heuristic Evaluation into a Software Release
By Marilyn Hollinger.
"This paper describes a process for incorporating heuristic evaluations 
into a software product release. The goal of the paper is to provide 
enough detail and results to other design teams to assist them in 
developing their own process for this activity."

+04: EVENTS.

May 21-24, 2006.
Gainesville, Florida U.S.A.

Edu Web Conference
July 31-August, 2006.
Baltimore, Maryland U.S.A.

HighEdWebDev Conference
October 22-25, 2006.
Rochester, New York U.S.A.

+05: FLASH.

Provide Audio Descriptions for Video or Animated Content - in Flash
By Skills For Access.
"Flash resources may contain a significant amount of both visual and 
audio information. Anyone unable to see the visual information is thus 
likely to miss out on information essential to understanding the Flash 
resource. To ensure that people who cannot see the visual content can 
understand the resource and achieve the experience intended to be 
provided by the resource, additional spoken audio information - audio 
descriptions - need to be provided."

Provide Text Equivalents for Audio - in Flash
By Skills For Access.
"The flexibility of Flash as a multimedia technology offers several 
options for providing alternatives to audio content. Sound alerts could 
be replicated by visual cues, such as obvious changes to the appearance 
of the resource, while spoken information provided as a soundtrack that 
plays could be replicated by the provision of on-screen text."

Provide Text Equivalents for Graphics - in Flash
By Skills For Access.
"Graphical information presented in a Flash movie will be inaccessible 
to anyone who cannot see the content of the movie, unless an equivalent 
text alternative is provided. This is particularly so for anyone who is 
blind or visually impaired, and relies on a screen reader and/or a 
Braille display device to access on-screen content. Steps need to be 
taken to ensure that suitable text alternatives are provided for all 
information presented in graphical form."

U.S. Grants Patent For Broad Range Of Internet Rich Applications
By Eric Chabrow.
"The patent--issued on Valentine's Day--covers all rich-media 
technology implementations, including Flash, Flex, Java, Ajax, and 
XAML, when the rich-media application is accessed on any device over 
the Internet, according to the patent holders..."


Competitive Analysis: Understanding the Market Context
By Jason Withrow.
"Just when you thought you fully understood the three circles of 
information architecture, your assumptions are being challenged again. 
Withrow comes around with an argument for looking at the context circle 

Prototyping With PowerPoint
By Jensen Harris.
"A couple of weeks ago when I talked about The Feature Bob Invented, I 
mentioned that we use PowerPoint as an easy way to prototype UI, 
especially in the early stages of design. A number of people have asked 
me for more details, and so today I thought I'd go through it 

Interface in Form: Paper and Product Prototyping for Feedback and Fun
By Bruce Hanington.
"Sketching and modeling are integral features of the design process, 
critical for both the generation of ideas, and the communication of 
concepts to others for discussion and evaluation, particularly in the 
context of human-centered design. While these methods are a natural 
component of the designer's education and professional tool kit, there 
is immense value in exposing other professions involved in the 
development of products and interfaces to at least a limited set of 
these same basic tools."


JSON for the Masses
By Dustin Diaz.
"For many years JavaScript has been portrayed as a very ugly language. 
It's been abused, misunderstood, and kicked around like the poor 
step-child as known in fairytales. That's all going to end this year. 
As many know, Stuart Langridge proclaimed that 2005 would be the year 
of the DOM. He was in fact correct. 2006 will be the year of Object 

There is Nothing More Permanent than a Temporary Hack
By Aaron Straup Cope.
"I still don't like JSON. It works and working code always win but its 
arrival as the next Best Thing Evar on the Intarweb only confirms that 
it's a hack. I don't have any problem with lightweight and simple data 
structures but I just can't get excited about them as an exchange 
mechanism between disparate services..."

Roaming Through XMLDOM: An AJAX Prerequisite
By Jayaram Krishnaswamy.
"The twin tasks of the XMLHttp are handling the HTTP request, and then 
processing the XML response. The first one is easily done by writing 
the appropriate syntax for creating this object. This is what is 
accomplished in AJAX by invoking the new constructor for XMLHTTP 
object. This is but one of the objects of the XMLDOM -XML Document 
Object Model. In this article, we look at XMLDOM in some detail before 
calling the XML document in an AJAX rendition in a future article..."

XML Responses and AJAX
By Jayaram Krishnaswamy.
"...This tutorial will focus on the responseXML accessor."

An in Depth Discussion of JavaScript Arrays
By Jagadish Chaterjee.
"This series of articles mainly concentrates on working with JavaScript 
arrays. We shall start with the basics of JavaScript arrays and finally 
conclude with complex object based arrays in JavaScript."


Derek Featherstone Interview
By Carolyn Wood.
"Derek Featherstone is a husband, a father, the curator of 
boxofchocolates.ca, a member of the Web Standards Project's 
Accessibility Task Force and the proprietor of Further Ahead, an 
Ottawa-based accessibility consultancy. Today, Digital Web Magazine's 
Carolyn Wood puts Derek under the bare bulb where he discusses 
strategies and techniques we can all apply to make Web
sites more accessible..."

Ladder of Fire (Peter Merholz Interview)
By G. K. VanPatter.
"A conversation with Peter Merholz - "...I never said design is not a 
field of knowledge. You asked if design was a field of 'vast, deep, 
broad, and nuanced' field of knowledge like anthropology, and I said, 
'No'. We never discussed whether design is another kind of field of 
knowledge, which I think it is. But it is fractured, rootless, and 
without a core. It doesn't have anywhere near the depth or nuance of 

Hiding in Plain Sight: An Interview with Adam Greenfield
By Boxes and Arrows.
"Is everyware overwriting what we know as everyday? On the heels of 
finishing his first book, Adam Greenfield talks with Boxes and Arrows 
about Everyware: The Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing and how the 
concepts are reshaping our lives."


Where's the Search? Re-examining User Expectations of Web Objects
By A.D. Shaikh and K. Lenz.
"In 2001, Bernard determined that users were able to form a schema for 
the location of web objects on informational websites. The current 
study investigates whether users' expectations have changed since the 
2001 study. Changes were found in the expected location of the site 
search engine, internal links, and advertisements."

Where Are You When I Need You??? (or... Ending the search for search)
By Kath Straub.	
"Kath Straub...looks at users' expectations of where items should be 
placed on your Web page."

Designing Your Website to be Search Engine Friendly
By Mark Belam.
"Design on the web has changed a lot since the mid 1990's. Not only has 
the language used to create pages expanded, but so has the capability 
of browsers, and the availability of bandwidth. Consequently pages have 
gradually carried more and more content, and designers, information 
architects, and HTML developers have faced the challenge of presenting 
increasingly sophisticated information and marketing messages onto the 
computer monitors in homes and offices around the world."

+10: PHP.

Yahoo! PHP Developer Center
By Yahoo!.

Enforcing Object Types in PHP: Filtering Input Objects in PHP 4
By Alejandro Gervasio.
"When you are writing an object-based web application in PHP, you want 
to prevent your classes from being convoluted with input objects of the 
incorrect type. These input objects can cause the application to throw 
a fatal error. In this article, you will learn how to enforce object 
types in PHP 4."

Enforcing Object Types in PHP: Using the PHP5 instanceof Operator
By Alejandro Gervasio.
"This is the second installment of the series 'Enforcing object types 
in PHP.' Welcome back. As you'll surely know, this three-part series 
goes through the basic concepts of object type enforcement in PHP 4/PHP 
5. It explores different approaches for checking types of objects to 
help you avoid possible code contamination when objects of incorrect 
type are inputted within PHP classes."

CSS Style Sheet Switcher using PHP (Javascript free)
By Paul Whitrow.
"A simple solution to switch CSS Style Sheets on the fly using only 

PHP Localization with TMX Standard
By Nicola Asuni.
"One of the main concerns of internationalization consists of 
separating the main source code from the texts, the labels, the 
messages and all the other objects related to the specific language in 
use. This facilitates the translation process as such as all the 
resources related to the local language context are well identified and 


Google Page Creator
By Drew McLellan.
"...Unless the architecture is such that pages can be fixed once they 
been published, Google really need to withdraw this service until it's 
fixed. Would they launch Google Mail if it was malforming the emails it 
sent? No way. They'd fix it. So is it acceptable to launch Google Page 
Creator when it's malforming the pages it creates? No way..."

Google Page Creator: When It's All Just Too Hard
By Kevin Yank.
"Of course, Google has never been the champion of standards-compliant 
approaches to Web development, and Page Creator is no different. Ugly 
spots: It generates <font> tags (whoops, there goes the old gag 
reflex...). It uses <b> and <i> instead of semantic alternatives. It 
illegally puts <div>s inside tags like <h1>. It doesn't put alt 
descriptions on images (not by default, but at all!)...The most 
frustrating thing for me as a developer who cares about standards is 
that all the ugly bits above seem to be a result of conscious decisions 
by Google, rather than simple ignorance..."

Government Web Standards Usage: People's Republic of China
By Peter Krantz.
"...Access to government information on the web is relatively new in 
the PRC. However, a recent report (quoted in an article in People's 
Daily Online) said in China, 96.1 percent of government departments at 
the state level and 81.3 percent of local governments had launched 
portal websites. I have gathered links to 80 government web sites from 
the Chinese Central Government's Official Web Portal. These have been 
checked with the W3C validator to see if headings were used and if they 
were using the W3C HTML recommendations..."

How to Sniff Out a Rotten Standardista
By Molly E. Holzschlag.
"Just like the stink of a three day old fish the arguments about 
standardistas preaching to the choir, being arrogant and generally 
being long past their due date persist. In many cases, these arguments 
are useless and wrong. A good standardista works hard to educate as 
well as advocate. A fresh standardista understands that the world is 
filled with a wide range of people of different skill sets, talents and 
circumstances. A committed standardista understands the reasons the Web 
standards movement exists..."

The Standards of Standards
By Ben Buchanan.
"In general, high standards are a good thing - after all, if you aim 
low then you'll never hit a high target. The trick is to aim high but 
still within the bounds of reality; and not to aim so high we can't 
accept the odd compromise."


Big Button Report Misses the Point?
By Patrick H. Lauke.
"If a site avoids the use of absolute and pixel-based font sizes (which 
cannot be resized in Internet Explorer), users can employ their 
browser's built-in functionality to resize the text size to best suit 
their needs, without the need for a site-specific option available to 
increase the font size. Putting text size widgets on par with such a 
fundamental requirement as the provision of text equivalents is, once 
again, dangerously misinformed."

Perception of Fonts: Perceived Personality Traits and Uses
By A. Dawn Shaikh, Barbara S. Chaparro, and Doug Fox.
"This study sought to determine if certain personalities and uses are 
associated with various fonts. Using an online survey, participants 
rated the personality of 20 fonts using 15 adjective pairs. In 
addition, participants viewed the same 20 fonts and selected which uses 
were most appropriate. Results suggested that personality traits are 
indeed attributed to fonts based on their design family (Serif, 
Sans-Serif, Modern, Monospace, Script/Funny) and are associated with 
appropriate uses. Implications of these results to the design of online 
materials and websites are discussed."

Examining the Legibility of Two New ClearType Fonts
By Barbara S. Chaparro, A. Dawn Shaikh, and Alex Chaparro.
"This article introduces six new ClearType fonts developed by 
Microsoft. Legibility of two of the serif fonts, Cambria and 
Constantia, is compared to the traditional serif font Times New Roman. 
Results show that the legibility, as measured by the number of correct 
identifications of briefly presented characters, was highest for the 
new font Cambria, followed by Constantia, and then Times New Roman. Old 
style digits, such as 0,1, and 2, used in Constantia resulted in 
confusion with the letters o, l, and z.  Times New Roman symbols were 
confused with both letters and other symbols."


The Goldilocks Content Framework: Identifying Just-Right Information
By Jared M Spool and Joshua Porter.
"Content is an essential part of any successful web site. However, 
little work has been done to help designers understand how much content 
they need or what that content should say. Using a novel approach of 
analyzing the conversations between users on discussion lists, the 
authors have determined there are essentially 14 types of content that 
form a framework of what users need."

Maximize Text Readability
By Skills For Access.
"People have a natural aversion to reading on-screen - the demands of 
the eye and brain in processing information displayed on a surface 
(monitor screen) that is also a light source is significantly higher 
than reading printed matter on a medium that reflects light, such as 
paper. This can be exacerbated by factors such as screen size, 
resolution and refresh rate. The impact of conditions such as dyslexia 
can exaggerate this further, such that text presented in long, fully 
justified paragraphs, as in a book, may be virtually impossible to 

Creating Online Application Power Users Using Graduated Usability
By Robert Buffone.
"Graduated Usability isn't a new concept--most desktop applications use 
it. Web applications are limited in their ability to be designed with 
Graduated Usability. As more people leverage Web-based applications as 
part of their everyday life, for both work and non-work related tasks, 
more time will be spent using these applications than those on the 
desktop. However, currently, Web applications offer few alternatives to 
users: accomplish tasks less efficiently over time, wasting time and 
money, or move on to better designed applications that can meet their 

[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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