[webdev] Web Design Update: July 1, 2006

Laura Carlson lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Sat Jul 1 07:18:21 CDT 2006

- Volume 5, Issue 01, July 1, 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.


Whither WAI and WCAG?
By Joe Clark.
"WCAG 1 was OK and could use a new coat of paint, but the entire modus 
operandi of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Working Group has 
been rejected by people who know, and actually love, the Web. As such, 
any credibility the Working Group has is hanging by a thread in the 
best case and is a figment of the Working Group's imagination in the 
worst. You had a good run for a while there, but is it time to close up 

Formal Objection to WCAG 2.0
By Lisa Seeman et al.
"WCAG 2.0 claims to define and address the requirements for making Web 
content accessible to those with learning difficulties, cognitive 
limitations and others. We object to that claim. Specifically, the 
success criteria requirements for making content understandable largely 
ignores the needs of people with learning difficulties and cognitive 

What's Next for Web Accessibility?
By Faruk Ates.
"Accessibility, in the end, is not about the web designer or developer, 
or the people developing browsers or authoring tools; it's about the 
people with disabilities, and these people will suffer from WCAG 2.0 
the most. Being the normative technical report issued by the W3C, we 
run the risk of WCAG 2.0 being adopted unquestioned by many governments 
and large corporations. We shouldn't blame them for doing so, because 
it's not their duty to conduct a research into the quality, 
effectiveness and usability of the technical reports that the W3C 
produces. It is their duty, however, to make use of these reports in a 
conscious, sensible manner. In other words, it is reasonable to expect 
them to use their heads when working with these reports. The NFB vs. 
Target lawsuit shows that this isn't a given. What may happen is that 
many government and corporation websites will try to 'pass' WCAG 2.0, 
but through doing so become no more accessible than they were before 
(or even worse, less accessible). People with disabilities will 
continue to experience a frustrating rendition of the internet, but 
they will have little hope for the situation to improve any time soon."

David Berlind on Web Accessibility
By Joseph Dolson.
"Unless society changes significantly, there will always be 
technologies available which are not 'accessible' - does this mean we 
should therefore never require accessibility? Does not being ready 
therefore exonerate our responsibilities? I can't accept that - 
instead, we should require accessibility and expect that technologies 
will not be accepted for mainstream use until an accessible use 
paradigm has been developed."

Crying Foul on Accessibility Claims
By Ian Lloyd.
"It's an accessibility moan double-bill, folks. First up, there's the 
story of the UK Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), a governmental 
department that recently had a Website redesign that should, according 
to their own specifications (let alone any Disability Discrimination 
Act requirements) be accessible. But you know how governments are for 
saying one thing and then doing another..."

Prettier Accessible Forms
By Nick Rigby.
"Forms are a pain. You can make them pretty, make them accessible, or 
go a little crazy trying to achieve both. Nick Rigby offers a happy 

PAS 78 Download
Developed by The British Standards Institution sponsored by the 
Disability Rights Commission.
"...available in Word and PDF formats. One electronic copy of the 
guidance is available free per individual or business."

A Critique of P.A.S. 78
By Joe Clark.
"...The specification has a lot of typos and is inconsistent in several 
places, to be discussed below. However, I believe the authors have 
succeeded about 85 percent in achieving a document that teaches 
untrained people how to manage developers and user testing to arrive at 
an accessible Web site..."


All About CSS Drop Shadows
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."

Selectors in Action
By Russ Weakley.
This is a sample chapter from Russ Weakley's book 'Teach yourself CSS 
in 10 minutes'.

Bulletproof Web Design: Expandable Rows
By Dan Cederholm.
"This chapter takes a look at a common approach to designing a 
login/promotional area that occupies the top portion of a typical Web 
page. We deconstruct the design and then rebuild it to accommodate any 
text size or amount of content."

CSS 2.1 Properties
By Lee Underwood.
"Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) are used for Web page layouts and aid in 
separating the document's style from its structure. Used correctly, CSS 
can be a powerful Web design tool. This extensive reference covers all 
the properties of the current version."

Ten Common CSS Mistakes
By Design Detector.
"I've recently been tweaking the code on a website designed by someone 
else, where I spotted several common mistakes in the stylesheet. I 
thought it would be helpful to point out a list of these and other 
mistakes in CSS that I've seen before..."

Inline CSS Should Not be Allowed in Strict Doctypes
By Emil Stenstrom.
"Strict doctypes are for documents where the webmaster has taken the 
time to clearly separate the content from the design, not other 

Future-Proof Your CSS with Conditional Comments
By Bruce Lawson.
The IE development team are calling on people to clean up their CSS 
hacks that might fail when IE7 is released, so I thought I'd tell you 
about how I did this for an emergency design I did for a punter a 
couple of months ago.


Creating a Simple Three-Column Design with CSS and Dreamweaver 8
By Stephanie Sullivan.
"Take your CSS skills to the next level by creating a website with 
three vertical columns."


Quantitative Studies - How Many Users to Test?
By Jakob Nielsen.
"When collecting usability metrics, testing 20 users typically offers a 
reasonably tight confidence interval."

When 100% Really Isn't 100%:
Improving the Accuracy of Small-Sample Estimates of Completion Rates
By James R. Lewis and Jeff Sauro.
"Small sample sizes are a fact of life for most usability 
practitioners. This can lead to serious measurement problems, 
especially when making binary measurements such as successful task 
completion rates (p). The computation of confidence intervals helps by 
establishing the likely boundaries of measurement, but there is still a 
question of how to compute the best point estimate, especially for 
extreme outcomes. In this paper, we report the results of 
investigations of the accuracy of different estimation methods for two 
hypothetical distributions and one empirical distribution of p. If a 
practitioner has no expectation about the value of p, then the Laplace 
method ((x+1)/(n+2)) is the best estimator. If practitioners are 
reasonably sure that p will range between .5 and 1.0, then they should 
use the Wilson method if the observed value of p is less than .5, 
Laplace when p is greater than .9, and maximum likelihood (x/n) 

The Return on Investment (ROI) for Personas
Submitted by Ann Light.
"Extract from 'The Persona Lifecycle: Keeping People in Mind throughout 
Product Design' by John Pruitt and Tamara Adlin..."

+05: EVENTS.

WebCT Users Conference
July 10-14, 2006.
Chicago, Illinois U.S.A.

CSS: From the Ground Up with Molly Holzschlag, Andy Clarke
July 15, 2006.
Honolulu, Hawaii U.S.A.

CSS: Applied Design Techniques with Molly Holzschlag, Andy Clarke
July 16, 2006.
Honolulu, Hawaii U.S.A.

Distance Teaching and Learning Conference
August 2-4, 2006.
Madison, Wisconsin U.S.A.

CSS Workshops with Russ Weakley
August 14-15 or 17-18, 2006.
Sydney, Australia

+06: FLASH.

Testing Keyboard Access in Flash and Flex
By Andrew Kirkpatrick.
"Testing for keyboard access is probably the first test that should be 
performed when evaluating the accessibility of Flash and Flex content 
and applications."


The Confluence of Research and Practice in Information Architecture
By Karl Fast.
"If you have tried your hand at information architecture (IA) - 
designing navigation schemes, creating wireframes, planning usability 
studies - then you will know how challenging the work is. If you have 
attended the Information Architecture Summit - the seventh edition of 
this annual conference was recently held in Vancouver  - then you will 
know that information architects are a smart, creative and enthusiastic 
lot. And if you have worked with information architects then you will 
have respect for how, and how well, they grapple with tortuous 
information problems in all their real-world complexity..."

The Rolling Content Inventory
By Louis Rosenfeld.
"...I'm increasingly recommending pursuing a rolling content inventory. 
Instead of a snapshot, as all those silly IA books suggest, inventory 
your content on an ongoing basis. Put another way, a content inventory 
is an process, not a deliverable..."

Why You Shouldn't Start IA with a Content Inventory
By Donna Maurer.
"Leisa Reichelt has a blog post on Why you shouldn't start IA with a 
Content Inventory. I totally disagree with this. But I work on really 
big, content rich sites, and they are usually in a very poor state, so 
that may differ from her experience. I could not start a project 
without an inventory. I cannot imagine how I would reorganize a site if 
I didn't know what's there to be organized..."


Behavioral Separation
By Jeremy Keith.
"Breaking up is hard to do. But in web design, separation can be a good 
thing. As Jeremy Keith explains, content, style, and behavior all 
deserve their own space."

Graceful Error Handling in JavaScript
By Tony Patton.
"JavaScript provides rudimentary support for error handling to properly 
handle and avoid errors. Learn about the various techniques available 
to help you address any development problems you might encounter."


Net Neutrality: This is Serious
By Tim Berners-Lee.
"When I invented the Web, I didn't have to ask anyone's permission. 
Now, hundreds of millions of people are using it freely. I am worried 
that is going end in the USA..."

You Can't Keep Ignoring the Web
By Gerry McGovern.
"The Web deserves professional management because the Web is central to 
the future of the organization. Most websites are not managed. They 
are, at best, administered. These administrators 'put up' stuff on the 
website that they are told to put up. This approach quickly turns your 
website into a dumping ground. Many administrators know this but they 
have no real power or authority-it's often their bosses who tell them 
to put up this unnecessary content."

How to Plan Manpower on a Web Team
By Shane Diffily.
"Just how many people does it take to properly manage a website? It 
depends on the website. Shane Diffily explains how to figure it out."

Hakon Responds to Questions About CSS and...
By slashdot.org.
"You submitted questions for Hakon Wium Lie on June 20. Today we have 
his answers, not only to the (+5 moderated) questions we sent him, but 
to a bunch of others he thought would also be interesting to answer."

Where Visual Design Meets Usability - An Interview with Luke 
Wroblewski, Part 1
By Joshua Porter.
"Joshua Porter catches up with Luke Wroblewski about the intersection 
between visual design and web site usability. Here is what Luke had to 

Where Visual Design Meets Usability - An Interview with Luke 
Wroblewski, Part 2
By Joshua Porter.


Lifestyles of the Link-Rich Home Pages
By Jared M. Spool.
"Jared talks about the emerging trend of home pages featuring more and 
more links and why this is probably a good thing."

Designing Accessible Navigation
By Joseph Dolson.
"Building an accessible website is a holistic endeavor. In order to 
provide easy access to the information on each page, myriad factors 
must be considered. One of the chief amongst these is the creation of 
accessible navigation. Whether considering business logic or a 
principled perspective on web design, enabling the site user to move 
within your pages is of key importance. This article will describe the 
principles of accessible navigation and demonstrate ways to create it 
using CSS and XHTML."

+11: PHP.

How to Manage Memory in PHP
By Sara Golemon.
WebReference.com has a sample chapter from Sara Goleman's book 
'Extending and Embedding PHP' (Chapter 3) taking a look at memory 
management in PHP.

Time Sensitive CSS
By Nathan Smith.
"Recently, there's been some discussion on the Godbit forum about how 
to serve dynamic, time sensitive CSS with PHP. I got to thinking, and 
the steps necessary to make this work are actually pretty easy. First 
off, let me say that most hardcore programmers will probably scoff at 
the simplicity of these examples. However, a hardcore programmer I am 
not, so basic tutorials are what I enjoy. Also, please know that this 
is not an exercise in JavaScript / Ajax. It is simply a way to provide 
unique CSS based on date and time."

Using Globals in PHP
By Dennis Pallett.
"Dennis Pallett shows you how to use globals in this article, where you 
will learn everything about the global keyword, the Singleton pattern, 
the Registry pattern and a Request Wrapper."

Using Register Globals
By php.net.
"Perhaps the most controversial change in PHP is when the default value 
for the PHP directive register_globals went from ON to OFF in PHP 
4.2.0. Reliance on this directive was quite common and many people 
didn't even know it existed and assumed it's just how PHP works. This 
page will explain how one can write insecure code with this directive 
but keep in mind that the directive itself isn't insecure but rather 
it's the misuse of it..."


9 Ways to Misunderstand Web Standards
By Philipp Lenssen.
"Misunderstanding 1: 'We Need Separate Print Pages'..."

Failed Redesigns III
By Joe Clark.
"Time for another edition of Failed Redesigns, in which incompetent, 
underschooled Web developers produce new or revamped Web sites with 
outdated and inaccessible code - and then act all surprised and 
indignant when I call them on it..."

CSS Reboot as Web Standards Validation Indicator
By Sean Fraser.
"Sean Fraser provides standards compliance details of CSS Reboot. 71.8% 
of CSS Reboot participants use invalid HTML, CSS, or both."

A Comparative Investigation of the Accessibility Levels of Irish 
By Vivienne Trulock.
This is Vivienne's dissertation which follows on from Barry McMullin's 
WARP study of 2002.

A Love Song About Web Standards
By Paul Boag.
"It's not often that I receive an email that really makes me laugh. 
However, this morning I received one containing a love song about web 
design and boagworld that had me in hysterics..."

+12: TOOLS.

By Matthew Cruickshank.
"This web service takes multiple word processor files (typically .doc) 
and converts them to HTML or any XML." Recently support for S5 
Slideshow was added, meaning "that you can make slides based on word 
processing documents. New slides will be created for each 'Heading 1' 
within the document."
Demo (OpenDocument only): http://docvert.com/demo/2.2

HTML Tidy (Online)
By Flumpcakes.
"HTML Tidy Online is a web front end to the command line program Tidy. 
It helps remove redundant and sloppy code. It has various options to 
improve code and fix errors in HTML documents."


Fine Typography for the Web
By Dave Shea.
Dave Shea's at Media conference presentation materials.

Font-Size - The Right Way...
By Gunlaug Srtun.
"If you want to know what the correct size for an accessible font 
should be, then you won't find an absolute answer. The reason is that 
that's for each visitor to decide, and we as designers should 
accommodate such decisions as well as we possibly can."


The Battle Between Usability and User-Experience
By Thomas Baekdal.
"The main reasons why it is so hard to create usable products is that 
there is a conflict between a high-usability level and great 
user-experience. You might think this as strange, but there is a 
important difference between the two."

Text Columns: How Long is Too Long?
By Jeff Atwood.
"...So what's the best way to structure columns of text on a computer 
screen? How long is too long?..."

The Power of Positive Whining
By Jeffrey Zeldman.
"I recently had a bad experience on a good website and wrote about it 
here. Writing about experiences is not the same as writing about facts. 
A company might spend $40,000 to ensure that its navigation labels can 
be clearly understood by all users. That they spent the money and 
conducted the tests is the fact. Yet some users might not understand 
the labels anyway. That would be the experience of those users. Fact 
versus experience: not the same thing..."

+16: XML.

Microformats in Education Wiki
Initiated by Jesse Rodgers.
"This Wiki is to discuss Microformats in Education. To figure out a 
need for any specific types this wiki attempts to collect the 
information required to make a sound proposal to the Microformats 
discussion list for either new formats or modifications required to 
current formats. An example might be..."

Why XHTML? Or, Why not HTML?
By Sean Fraser.
"In this article Sean Fraser looks at fifty standards compliant 
websites to find out which doctype they use. He presents the results 
which show that the vast majority of the examined sites use XHTML."

Understanding XForms: Components
By Kurt Cagle.
"...Big complex data models look really imposing and impressive, but at 
the end of the day, XForms got their start largely because the existing 
HTML forms just weren't expressive enough. Consider some of the more 
vexing problems associated with typical web forms. Suppose that you 
wished to..."

[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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