[webdev] Web Design Update: June 9, 2006

Laura Carlson lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Fri Jun 9 06:35:48 CDT 2006

- Volume 4, Issue 51, June 9, 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:

03: COLOR.
10: PHP.
12: TOOLS.

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

[Contents ends.]

++ SECTION ONE: New references.


WCAG 2.0
By Lachlan Hunt.
"In a recent controversial article on A List Apart, Joe Clark 
proclaimed To Hell with WCAG 2. On the surface, it seems like Joe made 
a strong case against the WCAG 2.0 draft in an attempt to rally support 
for his movement against the WCAG Working Group. Although he did raise 
many issues, in several cases he failed explain exactly what the 
problem is. I'm fully aware of the fact that not everyone who reads 
Joe's article will wade through several hundred pages from the 3 WCAG 
specifications, and who could blame you? I read them, but the specs are 
certainly long, tedious and, in many cases, extremely difficult to 

Levels of Accessibility Knowledge
By Joe Clark.
I admit in advance that I am about to flirt with an Internet meme, the 
'Internet meme' (often mispronounced as though it were French and used 
a circumflex). But if dashing Swede Rohgayr Johansson can delineate 
levels of HTML knowledge and a somewhat-less-dashing Swede can 
delineate levels of CSS knowledge, perhaps it is time for? Levels of 
Accessibility Knowledge."

Accessible Matrix Forms
WebAIM Thread.
"I was wondering what people's thoughts are on making a 'matrix style'
form accessible. Of particular interest, is how to create explicit
labels for the controls on the form..."

The Need for Accessibility
By Dan Johnson.
"For the World Wide Web, accessibility means that people with a variety 
of disabilities can perceive, comprehend, navigate, and interact with 
the Web, and that they can also contribute to the Web."

NCDAE Tips and Tools: Adobe Acrobat and PDF
By National Center on Disability and Access to Education.
"This document is intended as a discussion of the accessibility of 
Adobe Acrobat PDF..."

Disabled Football Fans on Losing Side, Whatever England's Fate
By AbilityNet.
"Technology and disability charity, AbilityNet, has discovered that 
crucial World Cup websites are inaccessible to many thousands of 
disabled fans - a lapse which is not only disappointing to many, but 
leaves both organisations in danger of falling foul of the law."

Codes on Sites 'Captcha' Anger of Web Users
By David Kesmodel.
"Dave Simmer is a computer-savvy graphic designer. Yet when he surfs 
the Internet, he often gets stumped by the distorted jumbles of letters 
and numbers that some Web sites ask users to retype to gain access..."


CSS is Worthless
By Mike Stenhouse.
"CSS does not make a site accessible. CSS does not make your site rank 
higher in search engines. Good CSS does not make you an elite web 
programmer. I don't code CSS. CSS is misunderstood...This is the 
biggest misunderstanding that I come across when trying to teach 
someone CSS: They've heard that CSS is the thing; it's the way web 
pages should be done these days. It lets you do away with spacer gifs, 
achieve pixel perfect precision and carries accessibility and SEO 
benefits to boot. They want to learn CSS. I have a really hard time 
hammering home that CSS is only the icing and the real benefit comes 
from how they do the rest of their coding... And I suspect that an 
awful lot of people who say they can 'do' CSS have the same 
problem...at the beginning of this article I said that I don't code 
CSS. That's not entirely true but let me finish that sentence. I don't 
code CSS, I code semantic HTML. I happen to use CSS to restyle that 
HTML, to make it look the way I want, but that's an aside. I only use 
CSS because I use semantic HTML. I use HTML tags for their 
appropriateness for the information they contain (instead of for how 
they look) so I have to redefine how they behave...HTML can make a site 
accessible. HTML can make your site rank higher in search engines. Good 
HTML can make you an elite web programmer. HTML is misunderstood."

Understanding Specificity
By Adrian Senior.
"Learn about a type of weighting that affects how browsers display your 
CSS rules."

All About CSS Drop Shadows - Part One
By John Gallant, Holly Bergevin.
"Do you like drop shadows on your page elements, but haven't a clue how 
to get them on your pages? Maybe you do know a bit about creating drop 
shadows, but a refresher on the modern methods would be welcome? Do you 
want to learn the very latest cutting edge tricks? If you are any of 
these, don't go away because we now begin a series on drop shadows for 
HTML elements. At the start we'll keep it simple, and as we progress in 
the series the methods will become more advanced and effective. At the 
end you will be treated to a brand new method so advanced that it must 
wait for IE7 to arrive before you can use it properly."

+03: COLOR.

CSS Maintenance Tip: Use a Color Glossary
By Garrett Dimon.
Not only does this makes it easier to quickly find the color you're 
looking for, but it inevitably helps out the poor soul that has to 
update your code in the future.


Quantitatively Test the Effectiveness of Your Home Page
By Iain Barker.
"This article explains a quick and effective technique for assessing 
whether your home page is an effective gateway to site content."

+05: EVENTS.

Make the Jump to Ajax and DOM Scripting
Jeremy Keith
July 6, 2006.
New York, New York  U.S.A.

An Event Apart
July 10-11, 2006.
New York, New York  U.S.A.

Building Enterprise Web Apps on a Budget - How We Built Flickr
July 19, 2006.
Toronto, Canada

A-Z: How to Build a Web App
July 19, 2006.
London, United Kingdom

IDEA 2006
Information: Design, Experience, Access
October 23-24, 2006.
Seattle, Washington U.S.A.

Zend/PHP Conference 2006
October 29 - November 2, 2006.
San Jose, California U.S.A.

CSS for Developers
Molly E. Holzschlag and Andy Clarke
October 1, 2006.
London, United Kingdom


Structure Yields Usability
By John Rhodes.
"You can improve usability by organizing. A messy web site can be 
improved pretty easily by creating an organization where one doesn't 
exist. If there is some organization, improve it. This might be a call 
for information architecture but I think that I'm getting at something 
more raw. I'm talking about getting your web site in order. That might 
mean adding or subtracting content. It might just mean new labels. It 
might mean a more consistent use of fonts. It might mean rounded edges, 
better colors, and simple content."

Design Before You Build with Wire Frames
By Tony Patton.
"Tony Patton explains why using wire frames to properly design a Web 
application before development work begins will please clients, project 
managers, and Web developers."


Use AJAX Scripting Responsibly
By Roger Johansson.
"The key is to use scripting to add value for those who can take 
advantage of it without causing problems for those who, for whatever 
reason, cannot. I like the term 'Progressive Enhancement' since it 
describes a mindset and a way of using technology that will help you 
create usable and accessible websites and web applications. Build the 
basics first and make sure everything (within reason) works without 
JavaScript, and then use event handlers to inject usability enhancing 

Responsible Asynchronous Scripting
By Shaun Inman.
"AJAX and its kin are empowering developers, but with great power comes 
great responsibility."

IBM Endorses Dojo and Lends Accessibility Support
By James Craig.
"On Monday, IBM officially announced its support for the Dojo Toolkit 
JavaScript framework. This announcement comes soon after the creation 
of the Dojo Accessibility email list, and like its other open source 
donations, IBM's support for Dojo includes a major emphasis on 
accessibility for people with disabilities..."

Front-End Architecture: AJAX and DOM Scripting
By Garret Dimon.
"The tipping point that really got me wondering about front-end 
architecture is AJAX. It's unique in that it really crosses the chasm 
between user experience and the deeper technical bits. On one hand, 
AJAX is important because it enables us to create exponentially richer 
user experiences. On the other hand however, its implementation can 
leave much to be desired if handled incorrectly, and to make matters 
worse, because of the way it straddles the line between the front and 
back-end, it's difficult to determine how it fits in with everything."

JavaScript?'Associative Arrays'? Considered Harmful
By Andrew Dupont.
"I hesitate to add to the proliferation of 'considered harmful' essays, 
but this is an important point, and it needs a URL, if only to cut down 
on the amount of typing I have to do..."

JavaScript 2 and the Future of the Web
By Brendan Eich.
These are Brendan's Xtech 2006 presentation slides.

JavaScript and Namespaces
By Dan Webb.
"Over at his site the right honorable Dustin Diaz speaks on YUI's 
design and in particular talks about the long package names used in it. 
It was Dustin's code example that made me think..."


Interview with Microsoft Ethnographer Tracey Lovejoy
By Kelly Goto.
"Lately, it seems the terms anthropology and ethnography are the new 
buzzwords for innovation in the technology industry. How has this type 
of research helped global organizations such as Intel, Microsoft, Apple 
and Adobe create better products and services? In this interview, we 
ask Ethnographer Tracey Lovejoy to detail some of the ways her team's 
research practice has directly integrated into the design and 
development cycles at Microsoft. In this interview, Tracey reveals how 
designers, developers, technologists and strategists in the technology 
field and beyond can most effectively utilize ethnographic-based
research in their daily practices."


Search Engine Optimization with Google Sitemaps
By Matthew Coers.
"If you've been looking for a way to optimize your Web site, check out 
Google Sitemaps. Among other things, you can tell Google how important 
a given page is relative to others and you can learn what Google thinks 
of your Web site!"

+10: PHP.

Developing PHP the Ajax Way, Part 1: Getting Started
By Sean Kelly.
"Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (Ajax), is arguably the most popular 
new Web technology. In this two-part 'Developing PHP the Ajax way' 
series, you will create a simple photo album as an online Web 
application, entirely in PHP and the Simple Ajax Toolkit (Sajax). 
You'll begin by writing a simple photo album using the standard method 
of PHP development and later apply Sajax to make it an active Web 

CSS Colors: Take Control Using PHP
By Patrick Fitzgerald.
"While many web sites use powerful programming environments to create 
HTML, these same tools are usually ignored when it comes to creating 
Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). This article describes how to take 
control of your colors in CSS using PHP."

Getting Real With Databases in PHP
By Tyler Hall.
"It's no secret that I don't like Ruby on Rails. My friends know it. My 
co-workers definitely know it. And I guess now you do, too. Ruby itself 
is a fine language, and there are lots of great web apps running on 
Rails, but the framework just doesn't fit with my development style. I 
like to keep things simple. I'm too much of a control-freak to sell my 
soul to a particular framework. That said, many of the ideas behind 
Ruby on Rails are spot on. I particularly like how well it abstracts 
database queries into separate objects for each table. That's very cool 
and can save having to write a lot of repetitive code. But having to 
run a Rails script to generate new files is a little too cumbersome for 
me. Like I said, I prefer to keep things simple. Can we do the same 
thing with PHP? Using just one file? Yes. So, I present to you, my 
analogous solution in PHP. It's not perfect. It may not be right for 
you, but I like it and use it in most of my projects."


Invalid HTML Interfering with Accessibility
By Alastair Campbell.
"Every now and then you come across an example of code that slaps you 
around the face and demonstrates that you really do have to make sure 
you use valid code..."

Is Standards Compliant HTML Really Necessary?
By Adam Osborne.
"...Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox 2, both upcoming browsers, are 
trying to become the most standards compliant browsers around and 
display pages the way their DOCTYPES say they should. This means that 
you can't predict how your incompliant HTML is going to work in these 
browsers. The best way to plan for this is to make your sites 
compliant, then you will be reducing the chances of having to make any 
future changes to your site. Another reason that I say yes to standards 
compliance is for user testing purposes. How can you test a site that 
is rife with HTML errors? Finding an erroneous unclosed HTML element 
that is breaking your entire layout in a page full of errors is a 
horrendous task. Making standards compliant HTML is a simple process 
that will eventually save you a lot of time and energy. I take pride in 
producing standards compliant HTML. I know that when I've finished 
working on a project and I hand it over to another developer to 
maintain or implement that they have beautiful, fully compliant HTML. I 
expect the same if I ever have to maintain someone else's HTML. And 
finally, compliant HTML makes it so much easier to make your site 
accessible, it's virtually impossible to make an accessible site 
without conforming to standards."

+12: TOOLS.

The Scrutinizer
By Rosano Coutinho.
"...The Scrutinizer is a service that allows you to analyze, assess and 
validate any link using various tools and testers on the web...Rather 
than creating direct links to various validators and link analyzers, 
one link can be used to submit to all of them. It simplifies the task 
of figuring out which application needs what type of URL (Domains 
only/HTTP/No HTTP) and also saves time and space by freeing up the code 
from unnecessary URLs..."

"...a toolset that allows information architects to create an 
integrated and interactive deliverable from standard Visio files."


Dimensions of Usability: Defining the Conversation, Driving the Process
By Whitney Quensenbery.
"Have you ever wondered if your colleagues or clients really understand 
usability? Too often, standards or guidelines substitute for really 
engaging our business, technical and design colleagues in a discussion 
of what usability means. By looking at usability from five dimensions, 
we can create a consensus around usability goals and use that 
definition to provide the basis for planning user centered design 

Task Marketing Brings You Web Success
By Gerry McGovern.
"The best websites know that customers are ready for action. They help 
customers complete common tasks quickly and easily."

Seven Reasons Why Applications Fail
By Joshua Porter.
"I'm not one to believe that we're in a Bubble 2.0 or anything like 
that, but here are a few ideas about why some of the web apps out there 

User Experience and Cognitive Pleasures (There's Easy, and Then There's 
By Leisa Reichelt.
"User experience and usability are two different things. And usability 
does not always imply a system or interface that does not require any 
learning, or any enquiry, or any challenge on the part of the user."

Google and Microsoft Understand the Power of the Default
By Joshua Porter.
"In response to a new feature in Microsoft's upcoming Internet Explorer 
7 web browser, Google has issued a complaint with the Justice 
Department that the browser doesn't give users enough choice because it 
defaults to using the MSN web search. By filing this complaint, Google 
is acknowledging the Power of the Default. The Power of the Default is 
the observation that most users never change the default settings in 

Designing for the 'Average User'
By Frank Spillers.
"We all were average users at one point. We still are when it comes to 
working with a new program, product or website. The difference between 
us (IT professionals) and the average user is that we have learned 
sophisticated coping strategies for figuring out software and the web."

Internationalization Primer
By Jonathan Snook.
"Daunted by that multilingual site project around the corner? Designing 
and developing for multiple locales is a complex task. Get your head 
around the basics of internationalization in this primer."

[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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