[webdev] Web Design Update: March 5, 2006
lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Sun Mar 5 07:56:29 CST 2006
+++ WEB DESIGN UPDATE.
- Volume 4, Issue 37, March 5, 2006.
An email newsletter to distribute news and information about web design
++ISSUE 37 CONTENTS.
SECTION ONE: New references.
What's new at the Web Design Reference site?
New links in these categories:
02: CASCADING STYLE SHEETS.
03: EVALUATION & TESTING.
06: INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE.
11: STANDARDS, GUIDELINES & PATTERNS.
14: What Can You Find at the Web Design Reference Site?
++ 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
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
+02: CASCADING STYLE SHEETS.
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."
By css-discuss Wiki.
"The term 'Progressive Enhancement' has been used as the flip-side to
+03: EVALUATION & TESTING.
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."
May 21-24, 2006.
Gainesville, Florida U.S.A.
Edu Web Conference
July 31-August, 2006.
Baltimore, Maryland U.S.A.
October 22-25, 2006.
Rochester, New York U.S.A.
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..."
+ 06: INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE.
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.
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."
By Jagadish Chaterjee.
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."
Yahoo! PHP Developer Center
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."
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
+11: STANDARDS, GUIDELINES & PATTERNS.
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.]
++ SECTION TWO:
+14: 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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