[webdev] Web Design Update: April 7, 2006

Laura Carlson lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Fri Apr 7 06:36:43 CDT 2006

- Volume 4, Issue 42, April 7, 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:

06: FLASH.
11: PHP.
13: TOOLS.
16: XML.

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

[Contents ends.]

++ SECTION ONE: New references.


Levels of Accessibility
By Mike Cherim.
"...The moral of this story is simple. There is a black-ish end of 
accessibility and a white-ish end, with rivers of gray running in 
between. Your site, our site, all sites lie somewhere in this gray 
area. We've yet to see a site that is 100% accessible (we're saying 
this thinking in broad- and individual user-terms this time), and it 
seems even the worst sites are accessible to some degree - conversely, 
it's just like some of the best site being inaccessible. Thus the 
question shouldn't be if a site is accessible (again, it's a bad 
question), but rather how accessible it is. It's a goal one doesn't 
simply reach or not reach, it's more a matter of how many barriers are 
removed and what considerations are made [Read as: How much you care 
and how much effort you put forth]. What's its level of accessibility? 
Just like our litter-bug analogy suggests, it's there, somewhere, in 
the gray. But remember that every little bit helps. And we feel credit 
earned is credit due when developers make an effort..."

A Journey Through Accessibility
By Roberto Scano.
"From 'tag generation' to the 'WYSIWOYS generation'. Roberto Scano 
identifies web accessibility problems throughout the web generations, 
and summarizes where we are now, and what we can expect for the future."

Web Designers Still Failing Disabled People
By John Coutts.
"'It's easy for designers and commissioners to be seduced by the 
opportunities that software provides to create visually stunning 
designs, while forgetting about the audience,' says Julie Howell, 
digital policy development manager for the Royal National Institute of 
the Blind (RNIB) and technical author of the new guidance. 'One of the 
main principles of PAS 78 is the creation of an accessibility policy. 
Site commissioners should think about the audience at the beginning of 
the design process and should put into writing a clear policy on who 
they are trying to reach and how they intend to ensure that those 
people are reached.'

Provide Text Equivalents for Audio - General Advice on Captions
By Skills For Access.
"Video content that contains spoken or other audio information (for 
example on-or off-screen sound effects, or background music) that is 
important to understanding the video's content will present access 
barriers to anyone who is deaf or hard of hearing and unable to hear 
the video's soundtrack. The same problem will also be encountered by 
anyone accessing the video using a computer without a soundcard and/or 
speakers, or in a noisy environment, or where no sound is permitted. 
Therefore an alternative to the information provided in audio format is 
required to make the media accessible to these groups..."

Provide Text Equivalents for Audio - General Advice on Transcripts
By Skills For Access.
"...There are two accessibility solutions for this barrier. The most 
equitable option is to provide the video content with captions and 
audio descriptions..."


Learn CSS Positioning in Ten Steps
By BarelyFitz Designs.
"This tutorial examines the different layout properties available in 
CSS: position:static, position:relative, position:absolute, and float."

Accessible CSS Forms: Using CSS to Create a Two-Column Layout
By Andrew B. King.
"Websites have become less accessible and more complex over time 
according to recent studies. Learn how to buck the trend by creating 
fast, accessible CSS forms that work with modern browsers and 
gracefully degrade."

Notes on Suggesting Link Styles
By David Baron.
"The correct way to suggest styles for links is complicated because of 
both browser bugs and differences between CSS1 and CSS2. In CSS1..."

Let's Focus on Focus
By Mike Cherim.
"I surf around the web and check out all sorts of cool sites on any 
given day. And gladly I report I do see a greater number of accessible, 
usable sites that look great -- a beneficial trend. I visit some really 
fine websites that qualify for an A or two. Being so, you might 
understand when I say that it strikes me as a bit of an oddity when I 
see no link focus. What's up with that? I ask myself. It's so simple to 

You've Come A Long Way, Baby... No
By Alex Walker.
"As fun as it is to pontificate about microformats, structured markup 
and the semantic web, in the past week two item have brought home to me 
how far the leading edge of web thinking is ahead of 'Joe in the 


Tableless Layouts with Dreamweaver 8
By Stephanie Sullivan.
"...Though this article is about building a simple site without tables, 
I'm first going to cover how I personally set up Dreamweaver to write 
clean code. Your mileage may vary..."


When Getting the Job Done Isn't Enough...
By Kath Straub.
"Kath Straub, Ph.D., CUA, HFI's Chief Scientist, looks at how the types 
data you collect in a usability test can effect the impact of your 

Usability Testing with Children
By Tim Fidgeon.
"Usability testing with children can prevent some unique challenges - 
find out what exactly these are and what you need to do."

Show Me Eye Tracking
By etre.
This is a eye tracking demo. "...Here's a user interacting with a 
website. The blue dots show his eye fixations, while the connecting 
blue lines illustrate his eye movements. This information shows us 
where he looks, what he pays the most attention to, and most 
importantly, what he misses..."

Remote Usability Testing
By Interno Tredici.
"...The diffusion of screen sharing software and remote control 
applications is slowly changing how usability evaluations are 
conducting because usability experts can now interact with users 
geographically distant and with different cultural backgrounds. 
Moreover Internet and fast broadband connection strengthen the ability 
to deploy high quality videos and makes user observation more accurate 
for usability evaluators. With this premises we can define remote 
usability testing as a technique that exploits user home (or office!), 
transforming it into an usability laboratory where user observation can 
be done with screen sharing applications..."

+05: EVENTS.

C and O '06:
Context and Ontologies: Theory, Practice and Applications
August 28, 2006.
Riva del Garda, Italy

User Interfaces For All
September 27-28, 2006.
Konigswinter (Bonn), Germany

+06: FLASH.

Flash Interaction Disabled in Internet Explorer
By Robert Nyman.
"Although news of this has been around for a while, many people seem to 
have missed it and/or didn't think it was worth reading up on. On the 
contrary, the implications of this are huge and will most likely affect 
a lot of web sites. Due to the patent case with Eolas, Microsoft has 
been forced to update how ActiveX components behave in web pages..."


Rethinking EIA: Becoming Information Ecologists
By Rob Fay.
"This post attempts to rethink Enterprise Information Architecture 
(EIA) and argues that information architecture need not be constrained 
to designing structures and managing content as it relates to the Web 
or for any electronic system for that matter. Instead, I argue that an 
enterprise information architect might also be called, as Thomas 
Davenport coins it, an 'Information Ecologist'."

IA Summit 2006 Presentations and Downloads
By iasummit.org.
This will keep you going for a while.

Social Information Architecture, Sorting, and Tagging
By Christian Crumlish.
"Here are my raw notes from Rashmi Sinha's talk at the IA Summit, 
'Sorting, Tagging and Social Information Architecture' or The Missing 
Chapter in the Polar Bear Book."

Information Architecture Library
By Information Architecture Institute.
"Welcome to the IA Library. The IA Library is a selection of resources 
related to the field of information architecture. The collection 
includes articles, books, blogs, and more."


Don't Use Javascript to Hide Bad Markup
By Stuart Colville.
"In a recent post on 456 Berea Street, Jeff Croft made a very valid 
comment suggesting that using JavaScript to create invalid markup was 
no better than writing invalid markup in the first place. This is 
something I totally agree with. The rising popularity of JavaScript 
following the buzz surrounding by Ajax has meant more and more sites 
are using javascript more fully, but it's important that developers 
don't get sloppy just because modifications to the document aren't 
visible in the source..."

OOJS - Overhyped and Overcomplicating
By David Andersson (liorean).
"Yeah, it's blasphemous. But I said it, and I'll clarify it a bit: I 
see practically no use for writing object oriented code in 

The XMLHttpRequest Object
By W3C.
"This specification defines the XMLHttpRequest  object, an API that 
provides some HTTP client functionality."

See How the XMLHttpRequest Object is the Heart and Soul of AJAX
By Tony Patton.
"Here's an example that demonstrates the elegance and simplicity of 
using the XMLHttpRequest object. Tony Patton also explores how the 
XMLHttpRequest object opens the door to many other uses that can 
improve the user experience."


The Future of the Web
By Tim Berners Lee, Oxford Internet Institute Webcasts.
"The development of Web technology has been an exciting ride, a series 
of socially motivated technical innovations some languishing, others 
catching on in a viral way. As each development has suggested many new 
ones, and much of the original vision is still unfulfilled, there is a 
lot to do. This talk will discuss new challenges and hopes for weblike 
systems on the net."


Identifying Missing Trigger Words from Search Logs
By Jared Spool.
"Jared comments on Eric Scheid's idea for a search log analysis tool 
that can help identify missing trigger words."

Search Engine Optimization Basics, Part 1:
Improve Your Standing in Search Engines
By L. Jennette Banks.
"Making your Web site attractive to search engines is a key factor for 
your success as a Web site developer. Get the basic information you 
need to organically optimize your Web site in this four-part series. In 
Part 1, you'll receive a foundation in search engine optimization so 
you can organically optimize your Web site and create Web pages that 
are usable, accessible, and friendly to search engines."

Search Engine Optimization Basics, Part 2:
SEO Keyword and Infrastructure Strategies
By L. Jennette Banks.
"Making your Web site attractive to search engines is a key factor for 
your success as a Web site developer. Get the basic information you 
need to organically optimize your Web site in this four-part series. In 
Part 1, you learned the background of why white hat SEO is good for 
your site. In Part 2, you'll start optimizing. You'll create a strategy 
for choosing and optimizing your keywords from the top-left-down and 
learn more about other factors that can influence your success in 
search engines."

Search Engine Optimization Basics, Part  3:
Get Your Web Pages into Search Indexes
By Mike Moran and Bill Hunt.
"Making your Web site attractive to search engines is a key factor for 
your success as a Web site developer. Get the basic information you 
need to organically optimize your Web site in this four-part series. In 
Part 3 of the series, you'll learn how to get the pages of your Web 
site into the search indexes."

Search Engine Optimization Basics, Part 4: Improve Search Marketing for 
Large Sites
By Mike Moran and Bill Hunt.
"Making your Web site obvious to search engines is a key factor for 
your success as a Web site developer. Get the basic information you 
need to organically optimize your Web site in this four-part series. In 
this final part of the series, learn specialized techniques for large 
Web sites or sites with many dynamic pages."

Web Navigation Is About Moving Forward
By Gerry McGovern.
"The primary purpose of web navigation is to help people to move 
forward. It is not to tell them where they have been, or where they 
could have gone..."

The 3-Click Rule
By The Best Practice.
"Q: I understand that an efficient website should allow visitors to 
find a product within three clicks. Is this true?"

+11: PHP.

Collections and Sorting
By David Fells.
"PHP has only a limited ability to support collections in the way that 
other programming languages such as C# and Java do, as far as the 
manner of access. This article navigates one possible solution..."


But It Validates!
By Jon Christopher.
"... I...now know that having valid markup is one of the core criteria 
for a good end product. Many people have also come to this realization, 
but the problem is - many have also stopped there. A lot of developers 
feel that having the W3C Validator tell you that your markup is valid 
is enough, that you can now move on to the next phase of your project. 
Passing validation is great, but it is merely a single part of the 
process. An example is that even though tabular layouts are considered 
valid, they are still frowned upon..."

Spiffy Markup?
By Ian Lloyd.
"Tell me, what is spiffy about this markup?"

+13: TOOLS.

By Andy Peatling.
"CSS Tweak will take your CSS and optimize it so that file sizes and 
download times are reduced. There are a number of simple options for 
tweaking, here's a brief overview of each one..."


Five Simple Steps to Typesetting on the Web: Printing the Web
By Mark Boulton.
"The screen is just one of the media types for which we have to design 
for. Another media type, which I feel is often neglected as part of the 
design process for a web site, is print. There are times when a web 
designer has to know about print design. Not just the values and 
aesthetics of designing for print, but the terminology, measurements 
and production values that are important in print design - including 
typesetting. I'll be addressing these, along with a working examples 
over the course of the next three installments of this 'Simple Steps' 

Don't Alter the Widths or Shapes or Letters Without Cause
By Richard Rutter.
"In the world of digital type, it is very easy for a designer or 
compositor with no regard for letters to squish them into cattle trains 
and ship them to slaughter."


Hyped Web Stories Are Irrelevant
By Jakob Nielsen.
"The fads and big deals that get the press coverage are not important 
running a workhorse website. To serve your customers, it's far better to
emphasize simplicity and quality than to chase buzzwords...The most 
important story of them all gets almost no hype: we're seeing more and 
more simple websites that meet customers' needs and thus generate 
substantial business value. Often the sites that do nothing special are 
the best: it's more important to focus on doing things right than to 
chase the latest fad."

Home Page Googlization
By Jared Spool.
"All the evidence we have tells us, most of the time, users want to 
find strong trigger words to click on, not a box to type their trigger 
word into. When the trigger words are present on the page, users are 
far more likely to succeed. As designers, we need to focus on design 
solutions that make trigger words more prevalent, not less."

The Ugly Conversation
By Josh Lehman.
"A short summary of the ugly vs beautiful debate in web design..."

+16: XML.

XForms Meets Ajax: Can They Get Along?
By Rich Seeley.
"When the W3C released a second edition of XForms this month as a 
recommendation for 'new generation of Web forms,' the question that 
begged to be asked was where does this fit into the Web development 
world where Ajax is the hot technology?"

[Section one ends.]


+17: 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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