[webdev] Web Design Update: September 22, 2006
lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Fri Sep 22 06:33:12 CDT 2006
+++ WEB DESIGN UPDATE.
- Volume 5, Issue 13, September 22, 2006.
An email newsletter to distribute news and information about web design
++ISSUE 13 CONTENTS.
SECTION ONE: New references.
What's new at the Web Design Reference site?
New links in these categories:
03: CASCADING STYLE SHEETS.
05: INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE.
10: STANDARDS, GUIDELINES & PATTERNS.
15: What Can You Find at the Web Design Reference Site?
++ SECTION ONE: New references.
Are You Google's Gopher?
By Alan Connor.
"For all the elaborate projects that computers are working on, there
are still some things these machines are very poor at. One of these is
seeing. A computer will recognize that something is an image, but will
have no idea what it is an image of. So a project to, say, label all
the images on the web will need to get humans to pitch in and help. But
who is going to sit around saying what they see for hours at a time?
Enter Dr von Ahn, with a new game. ...For his part, Dr von Ahn talks of
better browsing for the visually impaired, and better cataloguing of
Google Image Labeler
"Welcome to Google Image Labeler, a new feature of Google Image Search
that allows you to label random images to help improve the quality of
Google's image search results."
Is Legally Mandated Accessibility a Benefit?
By Joe Dolson.
"Although I'm an enthusiastic supporter of the principles of
accessibility, the practical definition is challenging to really pin
down. Given the widely criticized WCAG 2.0 and the sometimes
questionable expectations of Section 508 accessibility guidelines, I'm
have to wonder whether a legal accessibility requirement is really
Accessibility vs. Visual Design - Why Can't We All Just Get Along?
By Jared Smith.
"...The goal of both design and accessibility is to improve the user
experience. Designers must understand that accessibiliters will never
stop asking them for high levels of accessibility. Asking them to do so
would be similar to them asking designers to stop using color because
it's just too darn colorful. Accessibiliters must stop demanding every
new fangled accessibility widget, tool, and guideline implementation
that comes around. As long as designers understand the issues of
accessibility and provide as much accessibility as is feasible within
the constraints they are truly faced with, I believe that most in the
accessibility community will respect and understand that decision. They
should be happy that the wooden wheelchair ramp is available, even
though deep inside they know that the golden, motorized ramp would be
wicked cool. If they still criticize, then they should be ignored as
they do not understand the constraints most designers are faced with.
This does not, however, mean that they will stop being proponents for
better accessibility, just like designers will never stop being
proponents for better design."
Accessibility, Law and Target.com
By Jim Thatcher.
"...In her ruling, Judge Patel stressed the importance of the
connection between the bricks and mortar Target stores and the web
site, dismissing the NFB complaint 'To the extent that Target.com
offers information and services unconnected to Target stores, which do
not affect the enjoyment of goods and services offered in Target
stores.' This strongly suggests to me that the entire suit would have
been dismissed had the defendant been Priceline.com or Amazon.com.
However, even the issue of the nature of the relationship between the
bricks and mortar store and the web site will be addressed as the suit
moves forward; the Court had this to say in Endnote 4: 'It appears from
a review of the web site in question-which the court notes is not in
evidence but nonetheless does raise some questions-that Target treats
Target.com as an extension of its stores, as part of its overall
integrated merchandising efforts. See www.target.com. This suggests to
the court that perhaps with more evidence, the court's determination of
what may be covered under the ADA in this kind of integrated
merchandising may be subject to amendment. The web site is a means to
gain access to the store and it is ironic that Target, through its
merchandising efforts on the one hand, seeks to reach greater numbers
of customers and enlarge its consumer-base, while on the other hand it
seeks to escape the requirements of the ADA.' So the NFB vs. Target
suit will play out. Perhaps there will be a settlement without a final
court decision. In any case the question of legal support for the
fundamental idea that access to the web is a civil right is still being
Web Accessibility Evaluation of Target Website
By Jon Gunderson.
This is Jon Gunderson's report generated with the Functional Web
Accessibility Evaluator (FAE) on the top 32 pages of the Target
National Federation of the Blind v. Target Corporation
The case made it into Wikipedia.
Web Industry Professionals Association Incorporated (WIPA) of Australia
+03: CASCADING STYLE SHEETS.
CSS: Text Shadows
By Mike Cherim.
"This Text Shadows experiment isn't something that I think I would ever
actually use, but I was intrigued by it..."
BIR (Bob Image Replacement)
By Neal Venditto.
"..My technique involves the use of the z-index property. Basically, I
encase the text of a header element in a span element, thus having
semantic markup. I give the header element a background, and give the
span element a negative z-index so that it is placed behind this
header. Should the image not show, the text is perfectly visible. I
have to add a z-index of 1 to the body for the text not to be
completely buried, however. So, this is an excerpt from an HTML
document utilizing the method..."
By Ryan Roberts.
"This is an example technique for using image replacement CSS buttons
which are fully accessible for users with images disabled."
Accessibility Summit 2006
October 10-12, 2006.
Cambridge, Massachusetts U.S.A.
Small Talk 1: Jeffrey Zeldman
October 17, 2006.
New York, New York U.S.A.
Accessing Higher Ground Conference:
Accessible Media, Web and Technology Conference for Education, for
Businesses, for Web and Media Designers
November 8-10, 2006.
Boulder, Colorado U.S.A.
International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference
March 19-24, 2007.
Los Angeles, California U.S.A.
+05: INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE.
Real Wireframes Get Real Results
By Stephen Turbek.
"Information architects, afraid to step on designers' toes, may
actually render wireframes unusable. Stephen Turbek talks about
Verizon, the similarities between wireframes and iPods, and how to get
Whole Lotta IA Survey Results Now Available
By Louis Rosenfeld.
"For the new edition of the polar bear book (almost done!), Peter
Morville and I conducted five surveys of the information architecture
community. All of the results are now available via the IA Institute
web site, and cover the following topics..."
By Jonathan Snook.
"Object-oriented programming techniques can greatly improve both the
structure and readability of your code, but it can be a little
implementation. Read along as "Behind the Curtain" columnist Jonathan
Snook presents the foundational details behind creating objects in
By Tony Patton.
"Discover how regular expressions offer a simple and elegant way to
By Thomas Fuchs.
talk at RailsConf Europe..."
By Roger Johansson.
As you may have noticed, there are now pullquotes in some articles on
this site. I think they can be a nice design element and a good way of
highlighting important phrases. As with most things there are several
ways of creating pullquotes, the most straightforward being copying the
text you want and paste it into a blockquote element. I didn't want to
do that for several reasons. The main reason is the amount of work
involved. I could go through my older articles to add pullquotes, but
what if I should decide that I no longer want pullquotes? I'd have to
go through every article again to remove the quotes. Lots of work. I
wanted a way to add pullquotes without having to duplicate text in the
Trenton Moss Interview (Podcast):
What is Accessibility and what does it mean to me?
By Roger Kondrat.
"Recently I had the opportunity to sit down and discuss Accessibility
with WebCredible's Head of Accessibility Trenton Moss. Trenton has been
doing this sort of work for a number of years and some clients are from
the FTSE 25. In this podcast Trenton introduces himself, discusses what
Accessibility is and the value for businesses if they utilize his
services, as well he discusses the different pricing options for
companies e.g. large or small enterprise have different cost realities."
By Jared Spool.
Casts number 1.1 to 1.4 discuss the new Brown University home page and
Web Standards with Imagination (Podcast series)
By Dustin Diaz.
accessibility. Podcasts include Dustin Diaz with featured guests for
discussion and interviews. Expect cheesy jokes and humor as part of the
Adobe Interview: Kevin Lynch, VP/Product Marketing, Knowledge Worker
Business Unit (KWBU)
By Kurt Foss.
"Acrobat Connect has a collaboration-builder SDK for building Flash
applications that work within real-time meetings. They can be highly
interactive-can really change the experience of a web meeting. It's not
just screen sharing anymore; it could be something like a Jeopardy-like
quiz that you use to train your sales force. Or it could be an
interactive, real-time inventory system that is tied to a back-end
system. It's really unlimited in what you could do, and it changes the
mind set of what can be done inside a real-time meeting."
The Effects of Lower-literacy on Mental Models to Support Website
By Celeste Lyn Paul.
"...This is a difficult issue, because how do you accommodate both
higher-literacy and lower-literacy users, especially when your site
must contain some level of terminology because it is identifiable to
those who have some kind of exposure to the domain. How can you close
an educational divide when education is the barrier?..."
Accessibility's Impact On Search
By Rob Garner.
"While the company (Target) asserts that it has designed the site
within all applicable laws, it is difficult to understand why it
omitted key design attributes at the expense of search engine
visibility and sales. The e-commerce industry is extremely competitive
in both paid and natural search, and to most e-commerce marketers, the
use of alt-text on images and image maps is Search Engine Optimization
101. By not using the basic design tactics used by many of its
competitors, this ecommerce retailer is being left in the dust..."
By Ross Howard.
"When navigating a complex system-be it a website or a large transport
network-it's easy to get lost. Ross Howard points out how subtle
signifiers can make a big difference."
Index Me, Baby!
By Russ Weakley.
"I've just come away from a day long seminar on SEO where hiding text
was described as a bad practice - regardless of the purpose or CSS
method used...it is better to experiment rather than hypothesize. The
four pages below have unique keywords, the same link value (there is
currently only one link to these pages anywhere on the web), the same
page title value, the same number of keywords mentioned on each page
and the same character count on each page. Each of them uses a
different method to display or hide content. Will Google treat these
pages differently (refusing to index them?) or is this just a crude and
badly executed test?..."
Highlighting What Section of a Website the User Is In
By Eli White III and Jonathan Eisenhamer.
"Although a site may not always warrant a full multilayer navigation
menu, most websites usually have at least a few different sections.
Often many pages have links back to the top pages of each section, and
therefore it is useful to highlight which section the user is currently
in. Listing 9.2.1 looks at the URL of the current web page and, based
on that, determines what section of the website it is in and changes
the section menu."
Regular Expressions Cheat Sheet
By Dave Child.
"Regular Expressions are very powerful, and many people find their
unusual syntax hard to get to grips with. This A4 reference serves as a
guide to regular expression patterns and options."
What Can PHP Learn From Ruby On Rails?
By Chris Hartjes.
Slides from Chris Hartjes' php/db|works conference presentation.
PHP 5 Tutorial
By Kevin S. Floyd.
"This tutorial is designed for students in Web Development classes at
Macon State College. It assumes that the student already has
familiarity with the eXtensible Hypertext Markup Language (XHTML),
basic programming skills, and with the rudiments of database design and
Structured Query Language (SQL). Example scripts run under PHP 5,
Apache 2 or IIS 6.0, and Microsoft Windows 2003 Server. XHTML output
displays properly under current versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer
or Mozilla Firefox."
+10: STANDARDS, GUIDELINES & PATTERNS.
Why Standards Still Matter
By Roger Johansson.
"The last couple of years may have seen an increase in the level of
interest and action around web standards. But it still isn't filtering
down to the mainstream..."
The Web Standards War is Far From Over
By Robert Nyman.
"...You may know everything there is to know about web standards, but
remember that you are indeed a minority. Spread the word to other web
developers, use best practices and show system developers and decision
makers all the benefits of using web standards. Most people are
interested in a lot of time saved and money gained and/or saved, so it
shouldn't be hard to sell..."
It's Time To Kill Off Transitional DOCTYPES
By Jack Pickard.
"...A Strict DOCTYPE only removes the chance to use presentational or
behavioral elements and attributes. If you aren't using these anyway -
and you shouldn't be - then you've no reason to avoid the Strict
W3C Change: Outreach
By Eric A. Meyer.
"My first suggestion for improving the W3C is this: every Working Group
should have one member whose primary (and possibly sole) responsibility
W3C Change: Working Groups
By Eric A. Meyer.
"The second area where I think the W3C could be improved is in how
Working Groups are populated and managed."
Tails Export FireFox Extension
By Robert de Bruin.
An extension for showing and exporting microformats.
Set Opening Paragraphs Flush Left
By Richard Rutter.
"he function of a paragraph indent is to mark a pause, setting the
paragraph apart from what precedes it. If a paragraph is preceded by a
title or subhead, the indent is superfluous and can therefore be
800x600, Should I Really Care?
By Martin Ringlein.
"I believe we should approach screen resolution much like we do
really care? However, best-practice tells us to 'degrade, degrade,
degrade!!' We should be degrading our layouts for screen resolution
just as we do for the technology running our sites."
Optimal Width for 1024px Resolution?
By Cameron Moll.
"Let's face it: The jump from developing for 800x600 to 1024xn is
inevitable; not only inevitable, but just around the corner, too..."
Why Is It So Hard to Grasp Scrolling?
By Ethan Kaplan.
"...Flash is like retrofitting a perfectly good industrial building.
Sure, its not pretty, but with the right tools, the right people and
the right knowledge, it can be made into anything you'd like it to be.
100% flash, 4:3 websites, and their ilk are the gaudy exteriors on
otherwise serviceable canvases. Not necessary, and terribly tacky...or
the sake of information, let us scroll...Long live XHTML. Long live
Let Your Users Scroll
By Roger Johansson.
"There are certain design choices that are very effective in making me
want to leave a website as quickly as possible. One of the best is when
the designer has decided that the entire layout should use a fixed
width and height. With very few exceptions doing that is a really bad
Fixing Your Width: What's the Optimal Size for a Site?
By Joe Dolson.
"Just in the last few days I've been struggling with a design which
just wouldn't quite work the way I wanted. A somewhat unusual layout -
four columns, fluid."
New Brown University Home Page: Breaking Too Many Rules?
By Christian Watson.
"It's quite a departure from the traditional university home page and
it's certainly cool to wave your mouse around for a while and watch the
different 'bands' of content slide up and down. But does it work?
Without doing some proper user testing it's impossible to say for sure.
However, I have my concerns..."
Understanding HTML, XML and XHTML
By Maciej Ceglowski.
"It's easy to get confused about HTML and XHTML, and many of the
experts out there give misleading advice on the subject. Fortunately,
most of the time it doesn't matter. But sometimes it does, and can
badly break your content. So make sure you understand the difference,
and serve up some good clean markup."
Profiling XML Schema
By Paul Kiel.
"Five years after XML Schema's release, it has matured into a key XML
technology, despite its warts and arguably superior competitors. But
how are people actually using it? Paul Kiel's article this week answers
By microformats wiki.
"This page contains useful tips and guidelines for how to author
hCards, either from scratch, or by adding markup to existing content..."
By microformats wiki.
"hCalendar is a simple, open, distributed calendaring and events
format, based on the iCalendar standard...suitable for embedding in
(X)HTML, Atom, RSS, and arbitrary XML. hCalendar is one of several open
"This is the place for help on Scalable Vector Graphics. This wiki is
open for the entire SVG community to edit and use freely, under the
conditions of this wiki's license. But, of course, feel free to
acknowledge the author of the code and the SVG-Wiki."
[Section one ends.]
++ SECTION TWO:
+15: 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.]
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+ 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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