[webdev] Web Design Update: July 21, 2006
lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Fri Jul 21 06:25:45 CDT 2006
+++ WEB DESIGN UPDATE.
- Volume 5, Issue 04, July 21, 2006.
An email newsletter to distribute news and information about web design
++ISSUE 04 CONTENTS.
SECTION ONE: New references.
What's new at the Web Design Reference site?
New links in these categories:
02: CASCADING STYLE SHEETS.
03: EVALUATION & TESTING.
09: STANDARDS, GUIDELINES & PATTERNS.
14: What Can You Find at the Web Design Reference Site?
++ SECTION ONE: New references.
WAI to Advise on 508 Standards Update
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
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."
+02: CASCADING STYLE SHEETS.
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
Tutorial: CSS3 and International Text
"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..."
+03: EVALUATION & TESTING.
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..."
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.
The Annual Conference of the Australian Computer-Human Interaction
Special Interest Group
November 20-24, 2006.
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..."
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
Introducing MBN DuoTone Headings
By Jonathan Christopher.
average browsing experience for your user. On the other hand, requiring
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
By Christian Heilmann.
starting to get down and dirty with it, there's no excuse not to keep
By Christian Heilmann.
Slides from Christian's presentation for a Web Standards Group, London
"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
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
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
"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
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
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?
"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
"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..."
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..."
+09: STANDARDS, GUIDELINES & PATTERNS.
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
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
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..."
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.]
++ SECTION TWO:
+14: 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
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