[webdev] Web Design Update: May 25, 2006
lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Thu May 25 06:22:16 CDT 2006
+++ WEB DESIGN UPDATE.
- Volume 4, Issue 49, May 25, 2006.
An email newsletter to distribute news and information about web design
++ISSUE 49 CONTENTS.
SECTION ONE: New references.
What's new at the Web Design Reference site?
New links in these categories:
02: CASCADING STYLE SHEETS.
04: EVALUATION & TESTING.
10: STANDARDS, GUIDELINES & PATTERNS.
13: What Can You Find at the Web Design Reference Site?
++ SECTION ONE: New references.
To Hell With WCAG 2
By Joe Clark.
"...WCAG 2 is not too broken to fix, but we have no reason to think the
WCAG Working Group will actually fix it. The Working Group is too
compromised by corporate interests, too wedded to the conclusions we
see in the current 'draft,' too broken in general. What you see in WCAG
2 now is pretty much what you're gonna get-permanently. As such, WCAG 2
will be unusable by real-world developers, especially
standards-compliant developers. It is too vague and counterfactual to
be a reliable basis for government regulation. It leaves too many
loopholes for developers on the hunt for them. WCAG 2 is a failure, and
not even a noble one at that..."
WCAG 2.0 - A Failure In The Making?
By Mel Pedley.
"I currently have no idea who this document was written for. Perhaps it
was written to satisfy stakeholders within the Working Group as it
certainly doesn't seem to be useful to those of us who are actually out
there developing sites...In it's present state, WCAG 2.0 is likely to
do more damage than good."
Let the Buyer be Aware: The Importance of Procurement in Accessibility
By Cyndi Rowland.
"Creating a web accessibility policy has become a common approach taken
by education institutions and others (e.g., local, state, and federal
government agencies, and businesses). Adding procurement systems into a
policy is an important consideration for any organization..."
By Alastair Campbell.
"...The best options for accessibility are still either a liquid
layout...or an 'elastic' layout, which flexes up to a point, but then
stops. If you want a black and white rule, then use relative units..."
Usable and Accessible Form Validation and Error Recovery
By Jared Smith.
"Form validation is the process of testing to ensure that end users
enter necessary and properly formatted information into web forms.
Error recovery is the process of guiding the user through fixing
missing or improper information as detected by the form validation.
There are several methods of performing form validation and error
recovery. These methods can typically be categorized as being,
server-side - the form information is submitted and analyzed by the web
server through some scripting language (such as PHP, JSP, Perl, etc.)
with necessary feedback messages being written to a new, dynamically
generated web page, or client-side - form validation and error recovery
mechanisms are performed within the browser using a client scripting
Showing Good Form:
Beyond the Basics of Accessible Web Forms
By Catherine M. Brys and Wim Vanderbauwhede.
"...To create accessible forms, we need to use labels, legends and
<fieldset> tags appropriately. These elements allow screen readers to
interpret the relationship between a form element and the corresponding
textual information. Simple forms consisting of only input fields and
text areas can be laid out using a data table. When using sets of radio
buttons or checkboxes, however, the legend and the options should not
be separated by putting them in different table cells. Questionnaires
often require nesting of form elements - this is for example the case
when a question is depending on the answer to another question. These
form elements must then be nested correctly in order for the
questionnaire to be accessible."
Accessible Web Forms: Beyond the Basics - Part 2
By Catherine M. Brys and Wim Vanderbauwhede.
"...Looking beyond simple web forms, the challenge in making form
accessible is not so much in combining the accessible code for the
different form building blocks but in presenting the information in the
way which makes most sense to users and prevents misinterpretation. Web
developers should think about the needs of the different accessibility
user groups when designing forms. If possible, testing the initial
design with users is recommended to discover potential problems. The
techniques presented in this article give web developers a good
starting point in designing accessible web forms."
+02: CASCADING STYLE SHEETS.
By Michel Fortin.
"Look at the main page of this web site, you will find a photo of me.
This image seems pretty normal at first glance, but it has one special
feature: if you resize your browser window you can see the photograph's
dimensions adapts to the new column width. Let me explain how this has
been done. We call 'liquid' a web site design that adapts itself to the
browser window's size. The image is liquid because its size changes too
when the containing column size changes. This is how we do it..."
Experiments with Wide Images
By Richard Rutter.
"Probably the biggest problem with liquid layouts is how to contain and
display fixed width elements such as images and flash movies.
Inherently with a liquid layout one never knows how wide a container
will be. This can lead to situations where an image is wider than its
container and breaks the layout. These are attempts to show wide images
in a variable width column, using CSS techniques to shrink or crop the
Conditional Comments in CSS
By Alastair Campbell.
"With the advent of Internet Explorer 7 (IE 7), there is now little
choice but to create separate style sheets for different browsers, at
least for a moderately complex visual design or layout. This post
explores the need for change, and where this approach could go."
Using the Universal Selector
By Andrea Arbogast.
"The CSS universal selector, denoted by the asterisk (*), selects any
element in the document. Using it in combination with other CSS
selectors can lead to some powerful results. I have listed two of my
favorite techniques here..."
Colour with Contrast
By Ann McMeekin.
"Want to make sure your site is readable by the widest possible
audience without being 'boring' and 'ugly' but aren't sure how? A
selection of tools are now available to help you choose colours or
check the colours you've been given to provide adequate contrast. Using
these at the very earliest stages of the design process could save you
potential headaches later."
Shades of Accessibility
"Here's a quick example of how to make colour-coded information
accessible to colour-blind users..."
+04: EVALUATION & TESTING.
Chinese Banks Homepage Usability
By Ming Zhao.
"This study assesses the usability of homepages of three leading
Chinese retail banks from a user's perspective..."
An Event Apart Chicago
June 2, 2006.
Chicago, Illinois U.S.A.
New York PHP Conference and Expo 2006
June 14-16, 2006.
New York, New York U.S.A.
July 1-5, 2006.
Sunshine Coast, Australia
O'Reilly Open Source Convention 2006
July 24-28, 2006.
Adobe's Spry Framework for AJAX
By Drew McLellan.
"Adobe Labs have introduced a preview of their new Spry Framework for
AJAX, which aims to demystify AJAX for a non-technical audience. Adobe
skills to be able to harness the power of AJAX within their pages.
Sadly, at this initial stage it seems that the goal of easy-of-use has
been held higher than even the most basic principals of valid markup
and accessibility best practice. Opting to make implementation as
simple as possible, Spry uses custom attributes and old-school
Community Creators, Secure Your Code! Part II
By Niklas Bivald.
"In part two of his two-part series on protecting your community site
from malicious cross-site scripting attacks, Niklas Bivald rolls up his
Web Inventor Warns of 'Dark' Net
By Jonathan Fildes.
"The web should remain neutral and resist attempts to fragment it into
different services, web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee has said. Recent
attempts in the US to try to charge for different levels of online
access web were not 'part of the internet model,' he said in Edinburgh.
He warned that if the US decided to go ahead with a two-tier internet,
the network would enter 'a dark period'."
The 30 Second 'Search Engine Optimization' Check
By Drew Yates.
"Search engine traffic is vital to any web-based marketing. But are you
concerned that your business's web site is not optimized for the best
search rankings? Try this quick exercise..."
Increase Site Traffic with Search Engine Optimization
By Tony Patton.
"Search engine optimization (SEO) has ballooned over the past few years
into a quasi-science for increasing a site's visibility. Surprisingly,
the techniques utilized in SEO are basic and often utilized Web
Locking Down Your PHP Applications
By Thomas Myer.
"You know security is important, but the tendency is to put off adding
security until the last minute. It's impossible to secure a Web
application completely -- so why bother, right? Wrong. You can take
some easy steps to make your PHP Web application orders of magnitude
Managing Sessions and State with PHP
By Brian Fioca.
"HTTP is stateless. If you've ever written a web application where user
data matters, you know that managing that data can be troublesome.
There are two kinds of data, though: page and session data.
Understanding the differences can help you develop better and more
Simple Optimization for PHP and MySQL
"Here is a list of a few very simple tips for optimizing your php/mysql
applications. Keep these in mind while developing..."
+10: STANDARDS, GUIDELINES & PATTERNS.
World Grows Small: Open Standards for the Global Web
By Molly E. Holzschlag.
"Molly Holzschlag explains how the practices you already use to create
standards-based, accessible websites can serve you in the growing field
Design Patterns: Part 1
By Luke Wroblewski.
"What do we mean by 'design patterns'?"
Design Patterns: Part 2
By Luke Wroblewski.
"Bill and Martijn both did a great job articulating the differences
between general design patterns (principles) and prescriptive design
solutions (guidelines). So I won't chime in with yet another set of
definitions. Besides, what's interesting to me is the context and
implications of the origins and usage of both types of patterns..."
View Source Chart (Firefox Extension)
By Jennifer Madden.
This Extension "Creates a colorful chart of a web pages rendered source
code and displays source in its altered state after the DOM has been
Safari Tidy plugin
By Kasper Nauwelaerts.
"The Safari Tidy plugin is a small plugin that lets you validate the
webpages you browse for (x)html compliance. The actual validation is
done by Tidy. This plugin was modeled after a similar plugin for
Usability Book of Knowledge
By Usability Professionals Association.
"The Usability Body of Knowledge (BoK) project is dedicated to creating
a living reference that represents the collective knowledge of the
usability profession. Preliminary work has started, but there is more
to do. This website introduces the subject areas that will eventually
be included in the Usability Body of Knowledge and a preview of what is
The Page Title and Description: Write them Well
By Nick Usborne.
"It is tempting sometimes to pay a great deal of attention to the sales
text or content on a web page, and then just scribble off the page
title and description. Or maybe you don't write them at all. Maybe
someone in IT adds the title and page description for you. Big mistake.
Every page title and description on your site in enormously important,
from the point of view of both the search engines and your readers."
Choose Customer Words, Not Organization Words
By Gerry McGovern.
"...Never, ever start a sentence or heading on your website with the
name of your organization. Kill all redundant phrases such as "are
pleased to announce". Cut the self-congratulatory waffle. You're not a
monarchy and the Web is certainly not the nirvana for vanity
publishers. Lead with the need. Get to the point...Stop. Think. Who are
you publishing for and where will they read
this? Use their language, their words, understand their context.
Otherwise, you may end up publishing for yourself. And nobody reads
More On Salary By Gender
By Paul Sherman.
"The data suggest that yes, Virginia, there is a gender differential in
our field. The silver lining (if it can be called that) is that the
disparity seems to be less than the average (as measured in the US by
the Census Bureau and the BLS), and less than the disparity in other
[Section one ends.]
++ SECTION TWO:
+13: 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.]
+ SUBSCRIPTION INFO.
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.
+ TEXT EMAIL NEWSLETTER (TEN).
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:
+ 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
More information about the Webdev