[webdev] Web Design Update: May 12, 2006

Laura Carlson lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Fri May 12 06:30:27 CDT 2006

- Volume 4, Issue 47, May 12, 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:

09: PHP.
11: TOOLS.
13: XML.

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

[Contents ends.]

++ SECTION ONE: New references.


Techniques for WCAG 2.0
By W3C.
"This document provides information to Web content developers who wish 
to satisfy the success criteria of "Web Content Accessibility 
Guidelines 2.0" [WCAG20] . General Techniques in this document are 
applicable to all technologies while HTML, CSS, Scripting, and SMIL 
techniques apply only to those technologies."

PDF Post to the WebAIM list
By Wayne Dick.
"...I would just like to read my information at a comparable level of 
quality, effectiveness and price. That is not too much to ask. Right 
now the PDF community does not make that possible. There is the 
responsibility of document authors and publishers, but there is also 
significant responsibility from manufacturers of PDF authoring tools 
and user agents. Finally, there is the responsibility of the author of 
PDF. If Adobe wants PDF to be a standard then it should treat it like a 
real standard. PDF should be as accountable as HTML and it should not 
provide easy ways for incompetent or cheap authors and publishers to 
evade their accessibility obligations..."

PDF and WCAG 2.0
By Shawn Lawton Henry.
"For this special PDF issue of Accessible Content Magazine, we'll use 
the WAI Update column to address the question of how WCAG 2.0 relates 
to PDF."

Anatomy of a PDF: Why Making Them Compliant Has Been Challenging
By Mark Gavin.
"The Portable Document Format (PDF) is an increasingly popular way to 
distribute content over the Internet. While PDF offers many advantages 
compared to HTML or native word processing formats, most people don't 
understand the fundamental nature of the beast. This brief introduction 
to the internals of PDF will help you understand how it differs from 
other file formats."

PDF Files are a Curse
By Tim Seifert.
Making people unnecessarily read PDF files is a major pain.  They're 
slow to load, require a large and cumbersome program to read them, and 
they don't fit into the model of making pages that are most suitable 
for the needs of the person reading them.  What you typically get are 
documents with fuzzy text and images, documents that aren't easily 
navigable, pages sizes that don't fit the screen, and they're often 
partially unreadable with the user's current version of their PDF 
reader (mangled text, missing images, etc.)."
Playing Tag: Creating Accessible PDF Files
By Jonathan Whiting.
"In the past, Adobe PDF files were completely inaccessible, especially 
to people using screen readers. This began to change with Acrobat 5, 
when Adobe introduced a series of "tags" that could be used to enhance 
PDF accessibility. Although PDF tags could not be manipulated as easily 
as HTML tags, they made the content more accessible to some users with 
screen readers. With each version of Adobe Acrobat, PDF accessibility 
has increased and it has become easier to create tagged PDF files. This 
article will introduce how to view, edit and create tagged PDF file in 
Acrobat 7 Professional, but many of the features mentioned in this 
article are available in version 6. Even though you can create tagged 
PDF files in Acrobat Standard, you can only edit tags in Acrobat 

How Adobe Reader Can Help: Improvements in Acrobat Reader 7.0
By Greg Pisocky.
"When it comes to accessibility, PDF files have had a mixed reputation. 
Earlier versions of Acrobat posed severe obstacles to accessibility 
(for an explanation of why, read "What is a PDF" on page 5). With each 
new version of Acrobat and PDF, there came improvements in 


Rock Solid CSS Layouts
By Dan Shafer and Rachel Andrew.
"If creating standards-compliant, cross-browser compatible page layouts 
using CSS has you stumped, let SitePoint's resident CSS gurus show you 
that way. In this comprehensive, step-by-step tute, Rachel and Dan show 
you how to create a slick, flexible, and solid 2-column layout that 
will stand the tests of time and evolving technology!"

CSS: Double Lists
By Mike Cherim.
" I've been wanting to make some 'Double Lists' using CSS and basic 
markup, but until now I just haven't made the time to investigate. 
Never had the need, until recently. On a site I've been working on the 
client has a long list of short terms. Ordinarily putting these items 
in an unordered list makes the most sense. That would be the proper 
thing to do. Problem is it takes so much vertical space. Since the list 
items are all going to have short names, it'd be much better to stretch 
in out horizontally, doubling the terms, thus saving space vertically 
on the page. I came up with this solution a lot faster than I 

Giving Markup Some Class
By Jonathan Christopher.
"One of the great things about CSS is the ability to give elements a 
class or id. The trouble is, like many other elements of XHTML/CSS, 
they can be abused. I know when I first began using CSS, I would give 
just about anything a class just because I could. I would then style 
elements based on their class, completely disregarding semantics. What 
resulted was cluttered markup filled with far too many class 
declarations, and a stylesheet that could use a trim..."

Grids CSS
By Yahoo.
"Grids CSS is a suite of seven web page templates and the ability to 
nest grids of one to four columns within the content area of those 
templates. Together, the combined template and grid system offers these 


How Personas and Scenarios Can Change Your Website For The Better - 
Part 2
By John Wood.
"In part one of this article, I discussed the core concepts of 
personas, how they are created and what advantages they offer over 
other ways of modeling user needs. Here in part two I want to provide a 
similar overview of scenarios, which help you explore how people will 
use your website. I'll also provide a couple of examples of how we 
applied personas and scenarios in our work and the benefits they 
delivered to our clients."

Website Competitive Analysis - A Visual Approach
By Maish Nichani.
"This article describes a simple visual approach to competitive 
analysis that can be used to quickly gain insights into what's being 
used and what's interesting at your competitor websites."

Five days: Dixons.co.uk
By Etre.
"Over the next five days, we'll be publishing Eye Tracking heat maps 
from five websites. We'll give you our thoughts on each and hopefully 
you'll give us your questions, comments and analysis."

+04: EVENTS.

Website Accessibility 2006
June 13, 2006.
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom

NordiCHI 2006
October 14-18, 2006.
Oslo, Norway

Assets 2006
The Eighth International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and 
October 23-25, 2006.
Portland Oregon U.S.A.


Task Oriented Information Architecture
By Michael Andrews.
"Most discussion of information architecture relates to finding 
information. There are articles people want to read, or catalog items 
people want to browse. What receives less attention in information 
architecture is how to organize user interfaces to perform tasks, 
particularly tasks involving complex, drawn-out processes. After 
recently working on an enterprise application, I have concluded that 
task-oriented information architecture involves unique issues."

Front-End Architecture: Markup is the Technical Foundation
By Garrett Dimon.
Markup as the technical foundation of a good front-end architecture.

Why You Shouldn't Start IA with a Content Inventory
By Leisa Reichelt.
"I get the feeling that there are some people out there who think that 
one of the first things you want to do, when starting an Information 
Architecture project, is a detailed Content Inventory. (Want to get 
into a discussion about what terms to use and what they mean, go to the 
IA Wiki..."

The Guided Wireframe Narrative for Rich Internet Applications
By Andres Zapata.
"Wireframes. We've all done them. We've all had to make sure our 
clients look at placement, labels, flow, and real estate 
distribution-but ignore color and design at all costs because, after 
all, they are wireframes."

Know Your Place
By Nathan Curtis.
"Popular wireframing tools allow for reuse of repeated elements: change 
a centralized module once and have it update across all your screens. 
Nathan Curtis offers practical tips for increasing wireframing 
efficiency in this story."


AJAX and Screenreaders: When Can it Work?
By James Edwards.
"Over the last few months (and earlier) I've been involved in 
researching how the leading screen readers and other assistive devices 
respond to JavaScript: what kinds of events they generate or respond 
to, and under what circumstances. The research is based at Access 
Matters , and coordinated by Bob Easton, Derek Featherstone, Mike 
Stenhouse and myself. In addition to that, I did a great deal of 
primary research for my recently published book, The JavaScript 
Anthology . The research was designed to find out how assistive devices 
respond to scripts that update the DOM periodically or asynchronously, 
such as the items in a scrolling news-ticker, or responses to an 
XMLHttpRequest...I'm forced to conclude that, unless a way can be found 
to notify screen readers of updated content, AJAX techniques cannot be 
considered accessible, and should not be used on a production site 
without a truly equivalent non-script alternative being offered to 
users up-front..."

Joe Clark on AJAX Accessibility
By Joe Clark.
"I had the honor of addressing Iceweb 2006 in Reykjavik, Iceland's 
first Web-development conference. My topic was Ajax accessibility. I 
knew nothing about it, so I ran some user tests and presented original 
research...The conclusion I have from my testing is that Ajax has 
problems. Maybe not fatal problems, but problems nonetheless. What I 
think is going to happen is that Web accessibility and Web standards 
will be replicated in microcosm: A tiny few people know how to make 
accessible Web sites and know how to code to Web standards, and 
everybody else does everything exactly the wrong way. It'll be the same 
thing here, except the people doing the wrong things are hip upstarts 
like 37 Signals rather than giant corporations hiring community-college 
grads trained in table layouts and the font 'tag.' .."

Ajax and Screenreaders
By Jeremy Keith.
"The intersection of DOM Scripting and accessibility can be confusing. 
There are plenty of opinions, beliefs and myths circulating. What’s 
really needed are some hard facts backed up by good old-fashioned 

Accessibility Issue Comes to a Head
Target lawsuit could be a test case; new wave of apps concerns blind 
By Carol Sliwa.
"The move from text-based to visually oriented Web content has been 
tough on the blind, and now there's a new threat on the horizon. The 
shift to dynamic 'Web 2.0' technology, which Gartner Inc. predicts will 
be pervasive by the end of next year, could exacerbate the problem of 
inaccessible sites. A Web 2.0 application might make use of 
Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX) and Dynamic HTML to update 
information in a table without having to refresh an entire Web page. 
But screen readers, magnifiers and other assistive technology may not 
know which parts of the page have changed unless developers take steps 
to make sure the tools can glean that information.'It's very, very, 
very scary,' said Jeff Bishop, an application systems analyst at the 
University of Arizona in Tucson. 'Before, so what? You had a missing 
[alternative-text] tag, but at least you knew there was an image. You 
could click on it, and maybe you could figure out what it was. Now, you 
don't even know where to click. You don't know how to interact.'..."

Web Design with Ajax
By Brett McLaughlin.
Here is a book excerpt from 'Head Rush Ajax' by Brett McLaughlin. "If 
you're tired of clunky Web Interfaces, check out Ajax. Ajax - 
asynchronous JavaScript and XML is the key to building rich Internet 
applications that are more interactive, responsive and easy to use. 
Here, you'll learn about the newest thing to hit the Web."

Ten Good Practices for Writing JavaScript in 2005
By Chaohan.
"1. Make sure your JavaScript code is in balance with its 

Ease Your JavaScript Testing and Debugging Load
By Tony Patton.
JavaScript development tools have been slow to materialize, but there 
are various options available today. Learn more about debugging 
JavaScript and related tools in this Web Development Zone column.


The Future of HTML, Part 1: WHATWG
The Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group's approach to 
improving HTML
By Edd Dumbill.
"In this two-part series, Edd Dumbill examines the various ways forward 
for HTML that Web authors, browser developers, and standards bodies 
propose. This series covers the incremental approach embodied by the 
WHATWG specifications and the radical cleanup of XHTML proposed by the 
W3C. Additionally, the author gives an overview of the W3C's new Rich 
Client Activity. Here in Part 1, Edd focuses primarily on two 
specifications being developed by WHATWG: Web Applications 1.0 (HTML5) 
and Web Forms 2.0."


A-Z Indexes: A Painful Exercise in Mind Reading
By Brian Donohue.
"Lots of people think they like A-Z indexes on websites. Why? They have 
the allure of simplicity. Users think the index will cut through the 
confusion and bring them quickly to where they want to go. We've come 
across the issue of A-Z indexes with four of our clients in the last 
several months. And we say the same thing each time: A-Z indexes almost 
always problematic."

Nine Ways to Fix Intranet Search
By James Robertson.
"This article outlines nine steps that can be taken by all intranet 
teams to improve the effectiveness of search, covering both design and 
under-the-hood changes."

Search Engine Indexing Limits: Where Do the Bots Stop?
By Serge Bondar.
"Ever wondered how much of each of your pages is being crawled by the 
search engines? Serge has, which is why he conducted an experiment to 
test the exact page size that could be crawled by the search bots, and 
identify the indexation limit of each. Here, he reveals the results of 
his study."

Do You Really Need Search on Your Website?
By Gerry McGovern.
"You need to decide whether the value of having search on your website 
is greater than the cost of making sure that you do it well."

Clickstream Project
By David Koch.
"The Clickstream Project is a scientific study of web-user 
navigation...The study is part of my MSc thesis work...You can 
contribute by providing some navigation data. Download and install the 
Firefox ClickStreamRecorder (CSR) PlugIn. Close and re-start Firefox. A 
message may prompt you to allow transfer of data to our server. 
Removing the CSR PlugIn is a matter of one click. I put up a small FAQ. 
To make this interesting, I'll ask you to play a game called 'Six 
Degrees of Kevin Bacon' on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb). The 
rules are simple: You start on the profile page of actor A and have to 
get to actor B's profile page by clicking on movie/actor links. Here is 
an example for connecting Kevin Bacon to Michael Douglas..."

+09: PHP.

Loopy Control Structures
By Tim Huegdon.
"If ever there was a case for RTFM, it would be in conjunction with 
control structures in PHP (and Javascript too, since most of them are 
identical). I've recently learnt a thing or two about loops in both of 
these languages and thought I would share it with the blog-o-sphere; in 
case you, like me, didn't bother to read the manual properly"

PHP vs. Ruby
By Stefan Mischook.
"With all the buzz about Ruby these days (because of the web 
application framework ‘Ruby on Rails’) Zend (the people who manage PHP) 
are feeling the pressure."


Built Like a House
By Mike Cherim.
"I was explaining web standards, compliant mark-up, and web 
accessibility to my wife. I used a 'house' analogy. Not 'House MD' like 
the television show (which is very good by the way), but like the 
structure some people live in. I equated a house to a website. I told 
my wife some sites can look great on the outside yet be very poorly 
built on the inside. The outer walls can be nothing more than a thin 
veneer. A website can have a great looking design, yet it may be built 
of straw on the inside and not able to withstand the huffs and puffs of 
the big, bad wolf of technology. It's hard to tell by just looking I 

CSS - Why Use Modern Design Techniques?
By Andrew Faulkner.
"This article aims to demonstrate the advantages in learning modern web 
design techniques, focusing on CSS. We'll learn what CSS is, explore 
the business factors in building websites in a modern way and find out 
how much easier and beneficial it is to design using CSS. What this 
article isn't is a guide on how to make websites with CSS."

+11: TOOLS.

Browser Size
By Ates Goral.
"Browser size related resources for web designers" includes "a nifty 
online tool for setting your browser size while doing Web design".

Batch Website Link Popularity Checkers
By Right Scripts.
"Check how many pages indexed and how many back links to your site on 
search engine of Google, Yahoo, Msn, alltheweb,altavista and sympatico. 
You can input lists of domain names and download check report free."


Full Site Redesign - Start by Addressing the Home Page
By Iain Barker.
"Rather than embarking on a major project at the first sign of 
problems, consider tactical solutions such as the redesign of the home 

If yuo can raed this yuor brian wroks
By Kath Straub.
Kath Straub, shows how too much educating is not always the best way to 
get your point across.

Salary Trends for Usability Professionals
By Jakob Nielsen.
"Over the last several years, entry-level salaries have dropped, while 
pay for experienced usability staff has been more stable."

Calling All Designers: Learn to Write!
By Derek Powazek.
"You know all that copy that goes around your forms and in your 
confirmation e-mails? Who's writing it? Derek Powazek explains why it's 
important for user-interface designers to sharpen up their writing 

+13: XML.

Learning XHTML
By Simon Jessey.
"The goal of this tutorial is to get the beginner up and running 
creating XHTML as soon as possible. Superfluous information is kept to 
a minimum, and some concepts are deliberately explained simplistic 
terms to guarantee that the novice is not overwhelmed. Each lesson is 
accompanied by links to further reading, if more information is 
desired. Each lesson builds on the last, so skipping a lesson is 

[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.]



WEB DESIGN UPDATE is available by subscription. For information on how 
to subscribe and unsubscribe please visit:
The Web Design Reference Site also has a RSS 2.0 feed for site updates.


As a navigation aid for screen readers we do our best to conform to the 
accessible Text Email Newsletter (TEN) guidelines.  Please let me know 
if there is anything else we can do to make navigation easier. For TEN 
guideline information please visit:


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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