[webdev] Web Design Update: October 27, 2006

Laura Carlson lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Fri Oct 27 06:26:41 CDT 2006

- Volume 5, Issue 18, October 27, 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:

03: COLOR.
06: FLASH.
11: TOOLS.
14: XML.

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

[Contents ends.]

++ SECTION ONE: New references.


Barrier-Free Web Design, a.k.a. Web Accessibility 2.0
By Roger Johansson and Tommy Olsson.
"Both authors of this article belong firmly in Camp 1. We believe in 
building websites with no unnecessary barriers, thereby making the Web 
accessible to as many people as possible. In this article we attempt to 
explain why we believe that is important and why we do not think 
including everybody risks excluding people with disabilities."

Accessibility In Trouble 6: Misrepresentation
By Mike Davies.
"...Web accessibility, protecting the civil rights of disabled people 
to participate online, is being devalued by web accessibility 'experts' 
and 'evangelists' out to raise their own profiles, and justify their 

Creating Accessible PDFs Using Adobe Acrobat 7.0 Professional
By Greg Pisocky.

Can WCAG 2.0 be Simpler?
By Vladimir Popov.
"The new WCAG 2.0 standard draft sparked a hot discussion around web 
accessibility and the standard direction. The main issue is how to make 
it simpler and easier to understand for web developer community. The 
author investigates some WCAG 2.0 success criteria and explains, why 
they should be solved by improving technology of user agents."

Stuff WCAG, Let's do It Ourselves!
By Jack Pickard.
"...So, what do we think should be mandatory for public sector 
websites, at least in the UK? Well, here's my opinion..."

Don't Provide an Accessibility Statement
By Peter Krantz.
"When I surf the web I see more and more sites providing an 
accessibility statement. Googling for 'accessibility statement' returns 
over twelve million pages. What do these statements contain? Why would 
you want one? Who reads them? This article will try to make two points: 
1. accessibility statements are often pointless and 2. you are better 
off with a 'site help' if you think your target audience need it..."

CAPTCHA Usability: Humane Alternative to CAPTCHA
By Jesper Ronn-Jensen.
"...Since W3C wrote about 'inaccessibility of CAPTCHA' almost a year 
ago, a new technique has emerged..."

Web Captioning and Education
By Jared Smith.
"This article was written to set the framework for the Web Captioning 
and its uses in Education webcast. It provides an overview of 
captioning technologies, implications for education, and ideas for 
future development..."

Deaf Web Users Fear Being Left Behind
By Andrew LaVallee.
"...The absence of online captions has emerged as a hot topic in the 
deaf community. The media providers say they are held back by 
technological hurdles, and point out that online distribution of TV 
content is still in its infancy. But advocates for the deaf and hard of 
hearing say the lack of captions is a slight, since most programs have 
already been transcribed to comply with Federal Communications 
Commission rules..."


Top CSS Tips
By Jonathan Snook.
"I thought I'd share some of my habits when it comes to doing CSS work 
and let me warn you, some of what I have to say is probably a little 
controversial. But what's life without living it on the edge..."

Useful Tips for Writing Efficient CSS
By Roger Johansson.
"Jonathan Snook has posted a few great CSS coding tips in Top CSS Tips. 
Several of them come down to personal preferences, and it seems my 
preferences differ a bit from Jonathan's in some cases, so I thought 
I'd go through his tips and note my take on each of them..."

Tip: Want to Write CSS for a Handheld?
By Virginia DeBolt.
"...My advice for now is to make lavish and liberal use of display: 
none for nonessential parts of your pages and make sure your color 
contrast is going to work on a small screen. Check your pages with CSS 
switched off to make sure they linearize sensibly (good semantic HTML 
is the underpinning of everything no matter what kind of device you're 
designing for). Provide skip navigation links or other navigation aids 
to make the pages easier to work through..."

Use Of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
By Brian Kelly.
"This document reviews the importance of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) 
and highlights the importance of ensuring that use of CSS complies with 
CSS standards..."

+03: COLOR.

Five Simple Steps to Designing with Colour
By Mark Boulton.
"Designing with colour is perhaps the element of graphic design which 
is the most difficult to get right. Why? Well, because it is the most 
subjective. For some, a palette of dark gray with splashes of bright 
pink will be just great; to others it would just be all wrong. Too many 
designers, whether schooled in colour-theory or not, end up making 
subjective decisions about colour and then when it comes to explaining 
those decisions to a client, things begin to unravel.This first post in 
the series will be dealing with looking at tone and the value of 
limiting your palette..."


Heuristic Evaluation
By Emma Tonkin.
"Heuristic evaluation is a method of user testing, which enables a 
product to be assessed in order to identify usability problems - that 
is, places where the product is not easy to use. It is a discount 
('quick and dirty') method, which means that it is cheap and requires 
relatively little expertise..."

Interactive Heuristic Evaluation Toolkit

+05: EVENTS.

In Depth CSS XHTML Techniques with Eric Meyer
December 7-8, 2006.
London, United Kingdom.

UIE (User Interface Engineering) Web Application Summit
January 21-23, 2007.
Monterey, California U.S.A.

ATIA (Assistive Technology Industry Association) 2007 Conference and 
January 24-27, 2007.
Orlando, Florida U.S.A.

CC 2007
6th Creativity and Cognition Conference
June 13-15, 2007.
Washington, D.C. U.S.A.

+06: FLASH.

The Rise of Flash Video, Part 2
By Tom Green.
"Part One of Tom Green's series traced Flash video's rise to prominence 
on sites such as YouTube and MySpace (the article fortuitously 
appearing on the day Google's purchase of YouTube was announced). Now, 
in part two, Tom, a well-known authority on Flash, tackles what may be 
the biggest question about Flash video-its quality-and then touches on 
digital rights management (DRM), and video as content."

FLV Playback skins with Captionate Captioning Support
By Andrew Kirkpatrick.
"Providing captions in Flash just got easier. Adobe is making skins for 
the FLVPlayback component available for use. The skins were crated by 
Michael Jordan and are being provided by Adobe for developers to use.
To use these skins..."


Bonsai - A Loopless Tree Menu Using Event Delegation
By Christian Heilmann.
"As a response to all the libraries out there advocating lots of 
methods to retrieve collections of elements to loop over or attach 
other methods to I just wanted to remind people that looping is slow 
and sometimes not really needed. As a proof I set up a 13 lines 
hierarchical tree menu script that does not need any loop at all..."

Event Delegation versus Event Handling
By Christian Heilmann.

Print to Preview
By Pete McVicar.
"Going from the browser to the printer has always been a bit of a 
guessing game. In this article, Pete McVicar shows us a method for 
providing users with a reliable print preview."

Introducing Key Concepts for Form Validation with the DOM
By Alejandro Gervasio.
"If you're looking for ways to validate the data submitted on your web 
forms, you'll be interested in this article. It's the first in a series 
that explains how to use the DOM to supplement your server-side 
validation techniques..."

Extending Prototypes of Built-In Objects
By David Andersson (liorean).
"You should never, ever, under any circumstances extend 
Object.prototype with new members unless you own all the code in the 
entire production environment...You should avoid, if at all possible, 
extending Array.prototype with new members...In general, Array objects 
should be used for their array-like behavior. If all you want to get is 
a way to map keys to values, use an Object object instead..."

Using a Sledgehammer to Crack a Nut
By Ian Lloyd.
"...my questions are 'why is it necessary to have all these scripts for 
a lowly login screen' (possible answer: it's just to preload them into 
cache on a simple screen) but more importantly, why not just use a 
simple form as demonstrated earlier? Why use that proverbial 
sledgehammer to crack that nut? One of the arguments against using, or 
rather requiring, JavaScript is device-independence. Many mobile 
devices have flaky or no JavaScript support, yet a service as simple as 
a bookmark sharing site should (in theory) work quite nicely on these 
devices. However, with the JavaScript roadblock up, many will be turned 

Ajax and Accessibility: You're Doing it Wrong (Hijax)
By Rob Cherny.
"...The server-side code you've normally used can be simply tweaked to 
support returning a subset of data. I've used this to great success 
several times. You'll love it. Remember, scripting and Ajax should 
'enhance' an application, unless you can get away with more for valid 
reasons. It's just like JavaScript-based form validation: Unless you 
have a valid reason, you're always going to want to use server-side 
validation as well, however the client can save you time and energy if 
it supports the features you're after."

Accessible Ajax, A Basic Hijax Example
By Rob Cherny.
"After posting my article, "Ajax and Accessibility: You're Doing it 
Wrong (Hijax)", Jeremy Keith, the fellow who coined the term, actually 
posted asking about working examples. Well, I didn't have any that I 
could share off hand, but I posted a few things which were in the same 
spirit of working Accessible Ajax, or Hijax. Thinking about it more, I 
figured, well, it's pretty easy, I'll just slap together a sample. So 
away we go..."

AJAX Accessibility Overview
By Becky Gibson.
"Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX) is a hot new technology on the 
Internet that allows the incremental update of portions of a Web page 
without reloading the entire page. This has great performance benefits 
and provides a medium for developing rich Internet applications. 
Accessibility concerns have arisen with the increased use of JavaScript 
and AJAX on the Web. This article introduces AJAX and discusses some of 
the accessibility issues and best practices..."

Quiz: AJAX - Automatically Move Focus?
By Bob Easton.
"...What about the people who use screen magnifiers? What if the target 
area is beyond the field of view of the screen magnifier? The same for 
people with low vision who have bumped up text size. What are the 
ramifications of moving the page relatively large increments to expose 
the new focus? Is this a good user experience?..."


Shirley Kaiser Interview
By Meryl K. Evans.
"Two prolific and experienced women of the web join forces for this 
week's issue. Shirley Kaiser, author of the new book Deliver First 
Class Web Sites: 101 Essential Checklists, created websitetips.com  in 
1996, and she's learned a lot about web design and development in the 
years since then. Shirley talks about charging clients, tackling 
redesigns, testing sites, and other practical matters, as she's 
interviewed by Meryl K. Evans, well-known content maven and frequent 
contributor to Digital Web Magazine.

Long Tails and Short Queries: An Interview with Amanda Spink
By Christina Wodtke.
"Why haven't we figured out search yet? Amanda Spink talks with 
Christina Wodtke on why searchers still can't ask a useful question of 
a search engine, and how Google may be part of the problem rather than 
part of the solution."

Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Web Accessibility and Pragmatism
By Bruce Lawson.
"At last, the podcast audio and transcript of the talk Patrick Lauke 
and I gave at Geek In The Park."

Archived Webcasts
By National Center on Disability and Access to Education (NCDAE).
"NCDAE produces audio Webcasts on a quarterly basis. Each Webcast 
includes panelist from industry, education, and government that discuss 
questions about various aspects of accessibility and distance 


Preparing a Website for SEO Success
By Mike Cherim.
"Building a website and wanting it to be found and indexed by search 
engines, like most things in life, requires a little preparation. In 
this article I will offer some suggestions on what developers need to 
consider and do..."

Enhancing Web Site Navigation Using The LINK Element
By Brian Kelly.
"This document provides advice on how the HTML <link> element can be 
used to improve the navigation of Web sites."


The Semantic Code
By Abhijit Nadgouda.
"I had been introduced to the concept of Semantic Markup much earlier. 
But it is one of the things that is not a technical necessity, so I 
remained at the surface for a long time. I recently got chance to delve 
into the whys and hows that I would like to share with you, or rather 
discuss with you. Semantic Markup, by itself, is a vast subject, we 
will focus on the web design subset of it for the purpose of this 
article, lets call it Semantic HTML..."

Bulletproof HTML: 37 Steps to Perfect Markup
By Tommy Olsson.
"This article highlights and answers some of the most frequently asked 
questions about HTML. HTML is the foundation of the Web, and both 
developers and designers need to understand it."

Introduction to Microformats 2
By Andy Mitchell.
"Microformats are small and gentle syntactic touch-ups for your web 
pages. They have one major purpose: to make your data readable by both 
man and machine. They are the technical diplomats of the Web; allowing 
the same piece of data to be shared among many applications and people. 
What is more, they do this in an easy and pragmatic way..."

Where Microformats will Take Us
By Andy Mitchell.
"This article is about gazing into the crystal ball, to see what kind 
of Web will be possible when microformats can be found in the vast 
majority of web pages..."

Following the WSG Microformats Event
By Stuart Colville.
Presentations and podcasts from a Web Standards Group Microformats 

GRDDL Primer
By W3C.
"GRDDL is a mechanism for Gleaning Resource Descriptions from Dialects 
of Languages. It is a technique for obtaining RDF data from XML 
documents and in particular XHTML pages..."

Semantic Web Data Integration with hCalendar and GRDDL
By Dan Connolly.
XML Conference and Exposition 2005 presentation slides.

+11: TOOLS.

hCard Creator
By Tantek Celik.
"This user interface, and the code behind it, is provided as an example 
for the benefit of microformat open standards developers, and to 
demonstrate the clear one to one correspondence between microformat 
fields and microformat code. The code generated by this interface may 
be used for semantic web pages, structured blogging, or any other 
application that requires markup that is simultaneously human 
presentable and machine readable."

hCalendar Creator

hReview Creator


Typography School (Video)
David Dabner.
"Veteran graphic design/typography and letterpress teacher from the 
London College of Printing: David Dabner talks... giving an insight 
into the principles of design, creative letterpress and why computers 
make students sloppy..."


Productivity and Screen Size
By Jakob Nielsen.
"...Skilled performance almost never happens on the Web, because users 
constantly encounter new pages; that is, they spend most of their time 
pondering options and trying to understand the content that's being 
presented. This is why most websites should lay off the fancy 
drag-and-drop features and focus on the simplest possible interaction 
techniques that are common to all sites. If your site works the way 
people are used to working, they can concentrate on your 
content...Here's how to estimate productivity improvements: Involve a 
broad spectrum of representative users (not just experts). Have the 
users perform representative tasks (not just a few low-level 
operations). Don't tell users how to do the tasks; observe their real 

What Your Website can Learn from Starbucks
By Gerry McGovern.
"A fast,  convenient website gains customers. A poorly designed website 
loses customers. I want to buy a new laptop. I used to buy IBM 
ThinkPads and was  really happy with them. Lenovo took over the 
ThinkPad range. Last year I went to the Lenovo website. I was a loyal 
customer. I wanted to buy from them. The website was awful. I went to a 

UI Conf: My Higlights from UI11
By Jesper Ronn-Jensen.
Jesper Ronn-Jensen's notes from the User Interface 11 conference.

+14: XML.

Sending XHTML as text/html Considered Harmful to Feelings
By Brad Fults.
"Ian Hickson wrote a piece awhile ago called Sending XHTML as text/html 
Considered Harmful. He introduces several main points against sending 
XHTML documents with a text/html MIME type, which, I believe, are 
wholly unconvincing. I'll comment on or refute each of his points 

RSS and Atom in Action: News Feed Formats
By Dave Johnson.
"The most popular news feed format is RSS, but the formats have forked 
into two opposing camps which don't agree on what the RSS letters stand 
for. Clarity will dawn as you learn about the history of RSS, the RSS 
fork and the most widely used RSS formats."

Creating a Custom RSS Feed with PHP and MySQL
By Kris Hadlock.
"RSS has become the standard technology for syndicating information to 
large audiences. Many people have something to say, but its finding the 
right audience for your voice that matters. A great place to start is 
by creating your own RSS feed and adding to it as often as you can."

[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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