[webdev] Web Design Update: July 21, 2006

Laura Carlson lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Fri Jul 21 06:25:45 CDT 2006

- Volume 5, Issue 04, July 21, 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:

08: PHP.
10: TOOLS.
13: XML.

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

[Contents ends.]

++ SECTION ONE: New references.


WAI to Advise on 508 Standards Update
By W3C.
W3C WAI has been appointed to the Advisory Committee for the revision 
of U.S. Section 255 guidelines and Section 508 standards, which include 
Web accessibility. WAI looks forward to continuing to coordinate with 
organizations around the world to develop harmonized standards for Web 
accessibility. Additional information is available in the U.S. Access 
Board article: Board Names Advisory Committee for 508 Standards Update.

Beyond Guidelines - Advanced Accessibility Techniques
By Trenton Moss.
"...The W3C accessibility guidelines are of course important, but if 
you want your website to be truly accessible then there's more that you 
can do..."

The Four Levels of PDF Accessibility
By Alastair Campbell.
"Portable Document Format Document Format (PDF) accessibility is not a 
new topic, it is well understood and explained by certain experts. 
However, the implications are universally unknown by organisations. 
Perhaps by outlining the four broad levels of technical PDF 
accessibility, and what most organisations do, someone will take note?"

Building Accessibility Consortiums: WebCT Case Study
By Hadi Bargi Rangin, Robert Dumas, and Philip Kragnes.
"Accessibility of third-party information technology resources at 
universities and other organizations is ongoing problem for students, 
staff, and faculty. Typically people with disabilities or support staff 
who are experiencing accessibility problems feel isolated and do not 
know who to contact with their accessibility issues. This panel session 
discusses the development of a consortium model used to create a 
community of users and service providers to organize and discuss 
accessibility issues of the WebCT learning management tool. The panel 
will discuss their perspectives on the effectiveness of the model to 
improve the accessibility of the WebCT and how this model maybe used to 
improve the accessibility of other information technologies..."

Section 508 Checklist
By Jonathan Whiting.
"One of WebAIM's most popular resources, the Section 508 Checklist, has 
recently been updated."

Assessing Usability for People with Disabilities through Remote 
Evaluation and Critical Incident Reporting
By Mike Paciello.
"Most technology is not suitable or usable by people with disabilities 
because users/people with disabilities are rarely integrated into the 
conceptual design of a product...researchers and usability specialists 
need to devise evaluation methods engage people with disabilities in 
the processes of user interface design and usability testing."

Designing the Web for People with Disabilities
By Mike Paciello.
"Information access for people with disabilities is creating numerous 
opportunities and challenges within the Information Highway community. 
Additionally, as a result of the increasing paradigm shift by the 
publishing industry toward Internet and WWW-based document delivery 
systems, the importance of producing accessible information using 
electronic document mechanisms has increased immeasurably."


Why CSS Bugs Me
By John C. Dvorak.
"As we move into the age of Vista, multimedia's domination on the 
desktop, and Web sites controlled by cascading style sheets running 
under improved browsers, when will someone wake up and figure out that 
none of this stuff works at all?!"

Dvorak and CSS
By John Allsopp.
"OK, so John Dvorak is an admitted troll, but his recent critique of 
CSS does raise, in a single location a number or myths and 
misconceptions about CSS that I'll try to address here..."

Dynamic Drive CSS Library
"Welcome to Dynamic Drive's new CSS library! Here you'll find original, 
practical CSS codes and examples such as CSS menus to give your site a 
visual boast..."

Tutorial: CSS3 and International Text
By w3.org.
"HTML/XHTML and CSS content authors who want to get a general idea of 
what lies in the future with regard to CSS support for non-Latin text 
support. The tutorial assumes a basic understanding of CSS..."

20 Pro Tips
By Jason Arber.
"The difference between a good web designer and a great one is the 
ability to know how to take short cuts and save time without 
compromising the quality of work. Pixelsurgeon's Jason Arber has put 
together 20 top tips and tricks you should be using to give your work 
that all-important professional edge"

The Most Common CSS Markup Errors
Or, What does CSS Reboot again illustrate about all other Sites?
By Sean Fraser.
"This article qualifies the most popular errors found in the CSS of 
sites found during validation process using The W3C CSS Validation 
Service Tool. Some of the errors are simple, fundamental errors. They 
are easily corrected. However, some of the errors are not errors."

Ping-o-matic's Hover Invitation
By Mike Papageorge.
Mike explains a CSS :hover pseudo class technique used on a form label.

How to Print Selective Sections of a Web Page using CSS and DOM
By Ian Lloyd.
"This is an experiment to see if it's possible to selectively print 
sections of a large document using CSS print styles after the page has 
loaded without affecting the on-screen display..."


User Research Smoke and Mirrors, Part 1:
Design vs. Science
By Christopher Fahey.
"...To many user experience designers and firms, the array of 
seemingly-scientific tools available to us (and the value given to 
those tools by our peers, user experience gurus, and our clients) is 
sometimes seen as a means to avoid doing our real job: being expert 
designers who draw on deep experience and good instincts..."

User Research Smoke and Mirrors, Part 2:
Research as a Design Tool
By Christopher Fahey.
"it is possible that, like chicken soup, eyetracking can't hurt a 
redesign process (although, as I've said, grossly misinterpreted 
results are clearly a risk). But unless you are working with graphic 
designers with no talent whatsoever (and I will admit that most web 
sites seem to suffer from this predicament), it's hard to believe that 
the recommendations of an eyetracking study would be a meaningful 
influence on a design process, much less form the very basis for the 
redesign. The money spent on this sort of research would, in my 
opinion, be better spent on hiring a better UI designer. Hell, you 
should probably hire a better UI designer anyway, because only a good 
UI designer is really qualified to interpret the results of an 
eyetracking study in the first place."

User Research Smoke and Mirrors, Part 3:
Research as a Political Tool
By Christopher Fahey.
"In short, the lesson from this is not that user research is the 
foundation of good design, but rather that user research can (among 
other things) help explain and justify good design decisions to people 
without deep design skills or instincts - or to talk them out of bad 
design decisions. But there is no need to pretend that, as an expert 
designer, you don't have an opinion of your own that you believe in 
strongly, or that  opinion has no value unless driven by research 

Eyetracking Web Forms
By Luke Wroblewski.
"In Matteo's study the bold labels actually began to compete with the 
form fields for visual attention because they have a more equal visual 
weight. The normal (non-bold) font contrasted more with the input 
fields thereby providing a notable distinction between label and field. 
Whether you use bold labels or not, the key is to provide enough visual 
contrast between input label and input field to enable scannability and 

Guide to Remote Usability Testing
By Nate Bolt.
"As more usability practitioners start conducting remote usability 
testing, there seems to be a demand for some tips and guidelines around 
this technique. New screen-sharing tools like Breeze, Co-Pilot, and 
GoToMeeting, and remote usability tools like Ethnio and The Astoria 
Project Beta, make it easier to conduct moderated remote usability 
testing. Dealing with video and audio recordings keeps getting simpler 
as well. But observing people remotely presents a unique set of 
obstacles, so this is a guide to what we've learned from conducting 149 
remote studies with 1,213 participants over the last seven years. We 
can't get that time back, but hopefully some of what we've picked up 
will be helpful..."

+04: EVENTS.

Adobe Events

A Closer Look at the Best Practices of CSS with Eric Meyer
Live Online Seminar
July 25, 2006.
3:00 PM - 4:00 PM US/Eastern

Scott Berkun Workshops
September 1, 6, or 8, 2006.
Sydney, Canberra, or Melbourne, Australia.

The Ajax Experience
October 23-25, 2006.
Boston, Massachusetts U.S.A.

World Usability Day 2006
November 14, 2006.

Refresh 06 Web Standards Conference
November 16-18, 2006.
Orlando, Florida U.S.A.

OZCHI 2006
The Annual Conference of the Australian Computer-Human Interaction 
Special Interest Group
November 20-24, 2006.
Sydney, Australia


On Modifying Prototypes of JavaScript Built-ins
By David 'liorean' Andersson.
"You should never, ever, under any circumstances extend 
Object.prototype with new members unless you own all the code in the 
entire production environment. The reason is simple..."

JavaScript And AJAX Accessibility
By Becky Gibson.
Becky Gibson's CSUN 2006 presentation on Ajax.

Can AJAX Find Harmony on Agency Web Sites?
By Wade-Hahn Chan.
"Hot coding technique unable to hit fed Web pages because of 
accessibility questions..."

Introducing MBN DuoTone Headings
By Jonathan Christopher.
"One thing that JavaScript is absolutely great for is enhancing the 
average browsing experience for your user. On the other hand, requiring 
the presence of JavaScript compatibility can be an utter disaster. In 
my opinion, JavaScript is great for visual or functional enhancements, 
but those features should not be necessary to make proper use of any 
particular document. If a user doesn't arrive equipped with the ability 
to run JavaScript, they shouldn't know they're missing out on 

The Importance of Maintainable JavaScript
By Christian Heilmann.
"JavaScript is hip again; there's no doubt about it. But if you're 
starting to get down and dirty with it, there's no excuse not to keep 
it clean."

Maintainable JavaScript Slides
By Christian Heilmann.
Slides from Christian's presentation for a Web Standards Group, London 

Using Opera to Troubleshoot Javascript Errors in IE
By CodeGirl.
"I have a web app that uses a bunch of to do Ajaxy things as well as 
simple hide/show of DIVs. None of it seems to work in Internet 
Explorer. Since I am forced to support this horrific 'browser', I 
figured I better check every page within IE. IE error messages 
regarding javascript suck. Like IE, they are completely utterly 
USELESS. Most of my error messages are a simple 'object expected'. Wow, 
thanks for nothing. I decided to give the same web app a try in Opera 
just to see how it behaved. Unfortunately it breaks in almost all the 
same parts. Bonus: the Opera Javascript console is infinitely more 
helpful and specific with its error messages."

Section 508 Checklist: for Scripts, Plug-ins, Java, etc.
By Jonathan Whiting.
The scripts, plug-ins and java portion of WebAIM's checklist, has been 


Ten Questions for Laura Carlson
By Russ Weakley.
Russ interviews me. Topics include my job at the university, 
accessibility, WCAG 2.0, the Web Design Reference site, this 
newsletter, and more.


Exploring And Defining Web Navigation Styles Among Blind Jaws Users
By Marguerite Bergel and Ann Chadwick-Dias.
...Because the Web largely lacks development or design standards, 
understanding how best to optimize a site for blind users remains a 
significant challenge. If each Web site is coded uniquely, users cannot 
stick to a consistent, effective approach as they attempt to accomplish 
tasks. Consider HTML headings as an example of how the lack of 
standards propagates usability problems for blind Web users. While 
scanning the headings on a page is an effective strategy for a blind 
user, many pages do not have them. Consequently, users cannot rely on 
scanning headings as a primary navigation strategy. Until more 
accessible Web development standards are defined and mandated, users 
will be forced to approach each page with a set of potential strategies 
that they can utilize. This is obviously not the ideal. Web site 
developers, AT developers, and users will need to work together to 
better influence the direction of Web access for the blind. "

Accessible Web Search for the Visually Challenged
By Google.
"Accessible Search is an early Google Labs product designed to identify 
and prioritize search results that are more easily usable by blind and 
visually impaired users. Regular Google search helps you find a set of 
documents that is most relevant to your tasks. Accessible Search goes 
one step further by helping you find the most accessible pages in that 
result set..."

Google Site to Aid the Blind
By Elinor Mills.
"Google was set to unveil a Web search site on Thursday designed to 
help blind people find results that will work best with their 
text-to-speech software."

The Power of Natural SEO
By Mike Cherim.
"SEO or Search Engine Optimization is a critical component of a 
properly developed website. Or, rather, it is if you want to be found 
and indexed. You see, there are approximately two billion websites on 
the Internet, so being found by those who may be looking for you or 
what you have to offer, if that's what you want, can be a huge 
challenge. But it is doable and is actually quite simple. There are two 
basic methods of getting this done: The crappy way and the good way. I 
will discuss the latter..."

Search Engine Optimization: Increased Usability?
John Gibbard.
"The reason I ask is that I've just been hearing some arguments for 
restructuring a team to include the SEO guys in the initial content 
authoring stage to clear the blockage that occurs when content is 
written and then sent to SEO for amendment. My fear is that if this is 
taken too literally, that copy on pages resembles the most appropriate 
for SEO but doesn't actually work as effectively for the user. 
Effectively the pages become a long list of keywords and we return, in 
part, to the days where everyone buried 'Britney Spears' in the footer 
of their pages to score more hits..."

UCD vs. SEO - Responses
John Gibbard.
"Following my blog posting (and email to uk-usability) regarding search 
engine optimization (SEO) and user-centric design I have had some 
thoughtful emails and just wanted to take the opportunity to respond to 
a selection of the issues raised..."

+08: PHP.

Five Common PHP Design Patterns
By Jack D. Herrington.
"...These are just a few of the most common design patterns used in PHP 
applications. Many more are demonstrated in the Design Patterns book. 
Don't be put off by the mystique of architecture. Patterns are great 
ideas you can use in any programming language and at any skill level."

How To Create an RSS Aggregator with PHP and AJAX
By Kris Hadlock.
"Imagine using a simple HTML file to send a request to a server-side 
script, receive a custom XML file based on that request, and then 
display it to the user without ever refreshing the browser! Kris 
Hadlock explains how to use a combination of PHP and AJAX to create 
real-time data transfers in any application without a browser refresh."

The CakePHP Framework: Your First Bite
By Fabio Cevasco.
"CakePHP is a mature framework for PHP developers who want the 
structure and time-saving benefits of Ruby on Rails, without having to 
leave their comfort zone. As Fabio explains, CakePHP's scaffolding lets 
us build a prototype application quickly, using minimal code. Cake also 
offers many helper classes to extend and customize your application 
while retaining a sensible and easily maintainable architecture."

Understanding the Zend Framework, Part 3: The Feeds
By Tyler Anderson.
"This "Understanding the Zend Framework" series chronicles the building 
of an online feed reader, Chomp, while explaining the major aspects of 
using the recently introduced open source PHP Zend Framework. In parts 
1 and 2, we discuss the goals behind the Zend Framework and show you 
how to use it to create the beginnings of our online feed reader, 
creating a form and adding information to a database while getting to 
know the MVC pattern. In this tutorial, you will see how to use the 
Zend Framework to implement the online feed reader portion of the 

Using Method Call Overloading in PHP 4
By Alejandro Gervasio.
"This is part two of the series 'Overloading classes in PHP.' In three 
tutorials, this series teaches how to overload your classes in PHP 4 by 
using the 'overload()' PHP built-in function, in conjunction with the 
implementation of the '__set()', '__get()' and '__call()' methods, and 
explores the native support of object overloading in PHP 5..."


Leaving W3C QA Dev
By Bjoern Hoehrmann.
"I believe for our society to progress it's essential that our culture, 
our knowledge, and our society itself are as accessible as possible to 
everyone; web standards are how we choose to achieve this on the World 
Wide Web, and for us to communicate, especially if we have special 
needs or novel ideas about information access, it depends on compliance 
to web standards. With this in mind I became interested in assuring 
standards compliance on the Web and involved in the development of 
tools meant to help in this respect at the World Wide Web Consortium 
seven years ago. I now have to discontinue my participation in this 
area at the W3C and would like to explain how the World Wide Web 
Consortium failed to provide what I think would have been and still is 
necessary to advance the tools and services to an acceptable level, 
which will explain why I am leaving now..."

An Angry Fix
By Jeffery Zeldman.
"I worry about the direction in which the W3C is headed...Beholden to 
its corporate paymasters who alone can afford membership, the W3C seems 
increasingly detached from ordinary designers and developers. Truth be 
told, we and our practical concerns never drove the organization. But 
after ordinary designers and developers spent nearly a decade selling 
web standards to browser makers and developing best practices around 
accessibility and semantics, one hoped the W3C might realize that there 
was value in occasionally consulting its user base."

A Peaceful Ear
By Karl Dubost.
"Jeffrey Zeldman has written a weblog entry 'An angry fix' about Bjorn 
Hormann's message on his reasons for leaving the group doing the 
development of W3C validators. He made a few points in his message 
which will be certainly discussed by the Web communities in the 
following days..."

Breaking News: W3C Specs Are Not the Word of God
By Bruce Lawson.
"...Let's just acknowledge that the author's intention, even when it 
can be reasonably gleaned from the specification, is not a Holy relic. 
As a community, we've built up a corpus of best semantic practice - 
let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater by rejecting floats for 
layout, or abusing the definition list as the table was once sorely 
abused in the name of the Holy Specifications."

Big Red Angry Text
By Marco Battilana.
"As a standards compliant designer supporting an Intranet environment, 
it gives me a good feeling to create a fresh, new, standard compliant 
design for a client to replace an older, deprecated, table-based 
design. However, that good feeling can turn to dread when I revisit a 
site and find out that there are only remnants of my standard compliant 
markup remaining. As for the rest of the document, it has been 
butchered by deprecated WYSIWYG markup inserted by the software the 
editors are using. Basically, it's hard work gone to waste and a huge 
step backwards. With no current content management in place and many 
editors with varying HTML editing skills, I had to come up with a way 
that would grab the editor's attention as well as educate on some of 
the effects of WYSIWYG editing. Hence, I created a simple, but 
effective way to give an extreme visual example to show the editors 
that something has gone horribly wrong - B.R.A.T..."

W3C Members: Do As We Say, Not As We Do
By Paul Festa.
"In a test of whether members of the Web's premier standards group are 
willing to eat their own dog food, companies and organisations from 
Microsoft to the United States Environmental Protection Agency were 
found to be picky eaters. The second biannual survey, conducted by 
Helsinki, Finland-based Web designer Marko Karppinen showed that only 
21, or 4.6 percent, of 454 member sites Karppinen could access passed 
the W3C's own HTML validator, which tests for grammatically correct 

+10: TOOLS.

Ruby Accessibility Analysis Kit (Raakt)  	
By Peter Krantz.
"The Ruby Accessibility Analysis Kit (Raakt) is a toolkit to find 
accessibility issues in HTML documents. Raakt can be used as part of a 
an automatic test procedure or as a standalone module for mass 
validation of an entire site."
Peter explains a bit more at:

"activeCollab is an easy to use, web based, open source collaboration 
and project management tool. Set up an environment where you, your team 
and your clients can collaborate on active projects using a set of 
simple, functional tools." It is a web app like Basecamp, but instead 
of being a hosted service, you download and install on your own web 

By Eric A. Meyer.
S5 gets its own project site and community.


Choose a Basic Leading that Suits the Typeface, Text and Measure
By Richard Rutter.
"Vertical space is metered in a different way [to horizontal space]. 
You must choose not only the overall measure - the depth of the column 
or page - but also a basic rhythmical unit. This unit is the leading, 
which is the distance from one baseline to the next."


User Interface Design - Taking the Good with the Bad
By Mike Padilla.
"...Designing the UI is fundamentally an exercise in compromise-not 
compromise between designers and other project stakeholders (usability 
should never be sacrificed as a result of office politics) - but 
compromise between the drawbacks and benefits of design decisions. 
Every UI decision, from a pixel's precise placement to the entire 
site's information architecture, should be made judiciously. Careful 
consideration of the benefits each design decision affords and costs 
its users is essential. It's the sometimes-subtle expense that many 
people often overlook, and every UI decision does have expense. 
Educated compromise across all UI decisions is essential to creating 
the best interface possible, and is, ironically, required if you are to 
avoid designing a compromised interface..."

User Focused Language for Intranets and Websites
By Nick Besseling.
"Despite the growing awareness of content quality and usability, there 
is still many organizations and online content producers that can't get 
out of their headspace and silos...Why are some still continuing to 
develop intranet and website content focused on what we or our managers 
think users may want..."

Measure Engagement, Not Satisfaction
By Brian Manning.
"Molecular's user experience expert gives us five reasons why we should 
shift our collective focus toward engagement..."

+13: XML.

Intro to Microformats
By Nick Nettleton.
"Microformats are an important  - no, very important - new idea on the 
web. In fact, I think they are so important, they could precipitate a 
leap of evolution more important than AJAX and as important as XML web 
services. But first, an introduction..."

[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 
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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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