[webdev] Web Design Update: August 11, 2006

Laura Carlson lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Fri Aug 11 06:31:33 CDT 2006

- Volume 5, Issue 07,  August 11, 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:

05: FLASH.
10: PHP.
12: TOOLS.
14: XML.

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

[Contents ends.]

++ SECTION ONE: New references.


WCAG 2 - A Backward Step for Accessibility?
By David Moore.
"As people who work with accessibility and websites, we're used to the 
arcane world of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), but 
the new guidelines are going to change things a lot, and maybe not for 
the better."

WCAG 2 - Moving Forward
By Charles McCathieNevile.
WCAG is "...not yet ready to replace WCAG 1.0 as the international 
reference. They do not provide the guidance that is needed to make 
their framework useful outside HTML. For their coverage of HTML they do 
not provide the information developers really need - a clear assessment 
of the impact on users. Instead they try to tell developers what will 
be easy or hard and therefore what is necessary or just nice to have, 
in a way that is totally inappropriate (and actually makes them 
unsuitable for policy use in many countries outside the USA)..."

On Accessibility
By Catherine Roy.
"...there seems to be a growing trend towards confusing accessibility 
with universal access (or what some people call universality or access 
for all). And while these two ideas are indeed closely related, they 
are generally well-defined concepts and they are not interchangeable 
(and I say this being fully aware of the usage of accessibility 
concepts in other fields)...unlike some people who seem to see this as 
a sign that persons with disabilities are being magically mainstreamed, 
their needs being considered on the same footing as other needs and 
hence, their status miraculously transitioning to that of true 
equality, I see this as just one more reason for people to get it 
wrong... it is indicative of the continued marginalisation of persons 
with disabilities by going so far as to disappropriate them of their 
own issues or, at the very least, push them over to the sidelines with 
respect to something that is all about them or, most assuredly, about 
them in a big way..."

Guide to Voiceover Basics
By Blind Techs Wiki.

Evaluating for Accessibility
By Shawn Lawton Henry and Mary Grossnickle.
"...how the evaluation phase fits with other steps..."

Why CSS is Important for Accessibility
By Alastair Campbell.
"...It would actually be very hard work to try and fulfil the WAI 
guidelines without using CSS. These checkpoints are all double-A, and 
very difficult (or impossible) to fulfil without using CSS to separate 
style from content..."


A Handy CSS Debugging Snippet
By Chris Page.
"I use the following bit of CSS to help visualize the structure of an 
XHTML (or HTML) document by putting a colored outline around the border 
of every element. At each level in the hierarchy the color changes so 
you can see when 'depth' changes."

CSS: Smart Corners
By Mike Cherim.
"Rounded corners can be cool. They're certainly popular at the moment. 
Thus I couldn't help myself and just had to create this Smart Corners 

CSS Princess
By MS Web Centar Studio.
"CSS Princess is project with the main idea for promoting and 
supporting beautiful and interesting css sites made by woman's hand or 
woman's touch. It's well known that women designers have special 
sensibility which they always put in their work, and main idea of web 
site gallery created by cssprincess.com is to show the best web sites 
worldwide which have a woman's touch in their design."

CSS Layouts
By Code Sucks.
An assortment of one, two, three, and four column templates.


Microsoft's Expression Web Designer vs. Adobe's Dreamweaver
By Matthew David.
"...There is no mistake that Adobe and Microsoft are setting the battle 
field and will square off against each other. In this new war of Web 
designer tools, Microsoft is looking a lot like David and Adobe is 
looking like a limber and strong Goliath. Let the rumble begin."

Introducing CMX Jumpstart Greenville
By Sheri German.
"The name Greenville evokes the radiant ambiance of gardens, nurseries, 
and landscapes. And that is just how Heidi Bautista paints it in our 
latest Community MX JumpStart: Greenville, NC. Let's take a closer look 
at this bloomingly lovely design to see what new treasure we've added 
to our JumpStart collection."

+04: EVENTS.

Webmaster Jamsession
September 22-23, 2006.
Dallas, Texas  U.S.A.

South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive
March 9-13, 2007.
Austin, Texas U.S.A.
"Help SXSW Interactive decide panel programming for the 2007 event..." 
Vote for your ten favorite program proposals by September 8, 2006 at:




Understanding the Unconference
By Jonathan Follett.
"A brave new way to learn, share, and collaborate, or a disorganized 
free-for-all? If you've been to BarCamp or a BrainJam, you already 
know. If not, let Jonathan Follett guide you through Unconferences, the 
latest low-cost way to exchange ideas with fellow web professionals."

+05: FLASH.

Best Practices for Accessible Flash Design: Part 2
By Bob Regan.
"This week we look at methods for controlling the reading order using 
off stage content, screen reader detection, keyboard access, how to 
avoid empty hit areas, control over audio playback and more."

Moving Screen Reader Focus in Flash
By Andrew Kirkpatrick.
"I've been asked various forms of the question 'how can I make JAWS 
move the focus for my Flash application?' recently and decided to 
create a quick post. The answer: sometimes you can, sometimes you 


Information Architecture
By Valentin.
"Information Architecture (often abbreviated "IA") is the practice of 
structuring information (knowledge or data) for a purpose. These are 
often structured according to their context in user interactions or 
larger databases..."


Drag and Drop Controls
By Free Usability Advice.
"Question: Are there any usability issues with using drag and drop 
controls in a web application?" (Answer:) "AJAX technology makes it 
easier to add drag and drop controls to a web application...Before you 
decide to implement drag and drop, consider whether it is the right 
solution for your users. Don't just implement new technology for new 
technology's sake. If you do decide to use drag and drop functionality, 
make sure to give users a way to notice and learn the interaction."

Drag 'n Drop is Invisible To Users
By Jared Spool.
"...They [Netflix] offer a margin feature that allows their users to 
see the top items in their movie queue. And, to give users that extra 
umph of interface goodness, you can reorder the queue with 
drag-and-drop. What Netflix figured out was that nobody else would 
figure it out unless they included instructions. So, that's exactly 
what they do. In a very concise box at the bottom of the list, they 
include a Helpful Tip that visually demonstrates the drag-and-drop 

Usability by Hand, AJAX and Efficiency
By Thomas Baekdal.
"We have seen a huge amount of drag and drop...Some work, some are very 
interesting, but most of them directly kill your efficiency...Take drag 
and drop shopping carts...drag and drop is over 1000% slower than 
clicking an 'add to cart' button."

Interview with Jakob Nielsen (implementations of AJAX question 1)
By Matt Mickiewicz.
"...The definition of usability states that usability is a combination 
of five quality attributes, including learnability and efficiency of 
use. You have to balance these qualities differently depending on the 
type of user interface you're designing. It's important to remember 
that most web sites are not used repeatedly. Usually, users will visit 
a given page only once. This means that the efficiency of any given 
operation takes a back seat to the discoverability and learnability of 
the feature. Therefore, interaction techniques like drag-and-drop 
should almost never be used on web sites. Instead, focus on showing a 
few important features and making them accessible through a single 
click on a simple link or button..."

Docking Boxes (dbx)
By James Edwards (a.k.a. brothercake).
"Docking boxes (dbx) adds animated drag 'n' drop, snap-to-grid, and 
show/hide-contents functionality to any group of elements. And ... in 
what might be  another  world-first for brothercake - dbx is fully 
accessible to the keyboard  as well as the mouse...where the script is 
not supported, you'll get a default HTML  and CSS layout  with no 
dynamic behaviors. This isn't necessarily an issue for things like 
navigation or news boxes, where the scripting is supplementary to the 
core functionality. But its use as an application interface should be 
restricted to situations where browser and scripting support is 
predictable, or where equivalent server-side functionality is also 


Web Visions Podcasts

Private Offices Redux
By Joel Spolsky.
"...Open space is fun but not productive...Last summer, the Project 
Aardvark interns were all in a big open space. The net result was that 
there was no such thing as a conversation between two people. Every 
time I went out there to talk to one of them, it became a conversation 
with all of them; every time two people had to talk, instead of going 
off to a quiet space somewhere, they just spoke directly to each other, 
interrupting the other two's concentration. Although this slightly 
helps keep everyone 'in the loop,' it also knocks programmers out of 
flow causing them to lose their concentration and devastating 
productivity, so I prefer to keep people in the loop using more formal 

How to Ruin a Web Design - The Design Curve
By Matt Inman.
"As a professional web designer I've noticed a consistent trend in the 
majority of the projects I've worked on: The more time that is spent 
dissecting, analyzing, and critiquing a design by the wrong kinds of 
people the worse that design gets. The same trend applies to the number 
of people involved in the design process."

A Few Reasons Why Designs Fail
By D. Keith Robinson.
"...I've said it many times in the past, there is no such thing as a 
perfect design. We're usually trying and hit the sweet spot where we 
satisfy the needs of our audiences, the opinions of our stakeholders, 
the goals of the business, etc. This balance is usually easiest found 
by clarifying direction, increasing constraint, focusing on priorities, 
etc. Less usually ends up being more, if you catch my drift. Adding 
more opinions, more stakeholders, more goals, more audiences, more 
direction and more time to the mix usually gets you further away from 
that mark. Especially when those opinions, stakeholders, audiences, 
etc. aren't the right kind. Of course there's some subjectivity to 
that, but, is it really that hard to find the right mix? I think a bit 
of honest reflection on the above will usually do the trick. To take it 
a step further, if you want the best design you can get, you need to 
find that mix..."


Clickstream Study Reveals Dynamic Web
By Andrew B. King.
"The nature of web navigation is changing from static information 
delivery to dynamic interactive web services. The speed of web 
navigation is high with short stay times, but long download times for 
ISDN and dial-up users. To enable rapid interactivity web designers 
should design fast loading web pages with concise headlines and be 
aware of web page hot spots to maximize conversion rates."

Where Am I?
By Derek Powazek.
"It's 2006 and we're still messing up global navigation. Derek Powazek 
gets back to basics and offers a few simple guidelines for getting it 

Call for Support: Evaluating Google Accessible Search
By Ann Light.
"Google has asked RNIB to collect and collate feedback on how the 
present version of Accessible Search might be improved. RNIB's Julie 
Howell says: 'It would be extremely helpful if you would give it a try 
and let me know what you think in an email.' Her address is 
julie.howell [at] rnib.org.uk"

+10: PHP.

eBooks from APress
APress is offering several free ebooks on their website. Including "A 
Programmer's Introduction to PHP 4.0"

Killer PHP - For Web Designers
By Stefan Mischook.
"This is a beginners website/course on PHP created for web designers 
who have little to no programming experience. Where most other PHP 
tutorials and books assume you know programming (or at least, that's 
what it seems like ...) killerphp.com assumes you need to have things 
explained (and demonstrated) in non-nerd terms..."

Classes as PHP Functions
By Jacques Noah.
"A class is a function of PHP that has its roots in object oriented 
programming. The ability to use classes in PHP has been increasing with 
later versions. If you want to add the power of classes to your PHP 
programming, keep reading..."


Google Strict vs Google Deprecated
By Philipp Lenssen.
"...I get the feeling Google doesn't use deprecated HTML on their front 
page 'cause they feel it's better; it's just completely deprecated for 
no good reason other than Google, by and large, not caring too much 
about web standards."

Designing with Patterns
By Bill Scott.
"Yahoo!'s AJAX evangelist Bill Scott explains what Yahoo!'s design 
pattern library can do for you."

+12: TOOLS.

GetWebKit / Swift
(Run Safari on Windows)
"Welcome to GetWebKit, the home of the first and only WebKit based 
Windows web browser. Featuring the excellent rendering engine used in 
popular Macintosh web browsers Safari and Shiira, GetWebKit offers a 
free, powerful, and open-source internet experience."

Palette Grabber Firefox Extension
By Konstantine Prevas.
"Creates a color palette for Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro, or Flash based 
on the current page."


More on Why Major Relaunches are a Bad Idea
By Jared Spool.
"...design is all about trade-offs. What's the trade-off of the costs 
to support multiple architectures in a staged-roll-out versus the costs 
of the user experience disruption that comes from a sudden major 
redesign? That's the question that needs asking...The main impetus 
behind my article is about reducing risk...While a major relaunch is 
tempting, when you factor in the time spent dealing with all the things 
that will likely go wrong, the incremental approach is probably less 
time. And it's less embarrassing when Murphy raises his ugly 
face...Designs evolve in a certain direction because of cultural 
forces. And cultural forces are hard to shift suddenly. As with 
anything, incremental approaches to cultural shifts will encounter much 
less resistance..."

Long Versus Short Pages
By Free Usability Advice.
"Which is better-long scrolling pages, or short pages that don't 

A Crash Course in User Interfaces
By Nate Kohari.
Whenever the topic of interface development comes up, I'm always 
surprised to see most software engineers cringe as if they're being 
told they need a root canal. Almost all modern applications require 
some sort of graphical user interface, and yet the UI is commonly the 
last consideration of development. Worse yet (particularly when it 
comes to web development) the user interface is often created by a 
graphic designer who isn't familiar with software development. The 
resulting separation that occurs between the application's internals 
and its interface can cause serious problems with the project."

It's The User, Stupid
By Ken Magill.
"But the most important person in deciding which features and functions 
should be on the site and how they should be presented is absent. Who 
is that? The user. Or for those who find the term 'user' off-putting, 
the customer."

Gentle Reader, Stay Awhile; I Will Be Faithful
By Amber Simmons.
"Bloggers and copywriters take heed: it takes more than daily 
publication to build relationships. Amber Simmons provides advice on 
engaging readers and keeping them coming back."

+14: XML.

XHTML Reference
By David Chau, Belus Technology.
"This reference is a best-practice approach, based on XHTML 1.0 Strict 
/ XHTML 1.1."

Media Types - How The Web Works
By Belus Technology.
"Media types (sometimes called MIME types or content types) are a 
classification system used to identify files commonly found on Web 
sites. Media types are crucial to the functioning of the Web, because 
when a client computer requests a Web page from the server, the client 
computer uses media types to tell the server what type of files the 
client computer will accept. Conversely, when the server sends files 
back to the client computer, the server uses media types to identify 
what type of files it is sending back. This information tells the 
client computer software (for example a Web browser) how to render or 
process the files that it receives."

Serving XHTML As XML
By Belus Technology.
"When a browser opens a Web page and the media type for the page is set 
to application/xhtml+xml, the browser will process the page as XML and 
will enforce the rules of XML. If there are markup errors on a Web 
page, the browser will not render the Web page. Instead, most Web 
browsers will display an XML parsing error message such as the one seen 
in the screen shot below..."

By Belus Technology.
"...Below are rules for authoring XHTML that will be compatible with 
current and future Web browsers..."

Understanding XForms: Events and Actions
By Kurt Cagle.
"...I'd like to give you the fifth installment about XForms, of six - 
this has been a remarkably well read series, which gives me a certain 
amount of hope for the specification. I should be making an 
announcement shortly concerning XForms in this space..."

Understanding XForms: AJAX, XBL and XForms.org
By Kurt Cagle.
"...I've already dealt with XBL previously in this series, but at the 
time specifically avoided getting into the use of such bindings much 
beyond creating simple replacements for certain elements (such as 
displaying images rather than URIs in output elements). However, as 
part of the advantage of the Mozilla XForms implementation comes in its 
integration with XBL, I felt it was worthwhile to readdress the 
XForms/XBL connection in a little more depth..."

[Section one ends.]


+15: 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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