[webdev] Web Design Update: November 11, 2006

Laura Carlson lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Sat Nov 11 07:43:02 CST 2006

- Volume 5, Issue 20, November 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:

03: COLOR.
10: PHP.
12: TOOLS.
15: XML.

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

[Contents ends.]

++ SECTION ONE: New references.


Accessibility Quick Checks (Part 1 of 3: Coding)
By Jack Pickard.
"One of the things I've been doing at work recently is to work on a web 
checklist, the idea of which is to provide some quick and easy tests 
for someone other than the developer to carry out. Reading through it, 
it occurred to me that something along pretty much the same lines might 
be useful to people in general, so I've revisited the idea here. It's 
important to remember that you should obviously take more than this 
into consideration when building a site, but testing for these things 
will give you a flavor of whether or not a site is likely to be 
accessible (amongst other things)."

Accessibility Quick Checks (Part 2 of 3: Content)
By Jack Pickard.

Accessibility Quick Checks (Part 3 of 3: Function)
By Jack Pickard.

Tabindex At Your Peril
By Mel Pedley.
"...I consider tab indexing to be the spawn of Satan - especially when 
it does run contrary to the 'natural' or expected tab order on a 

Accesskeys: Where Are We Now?
By Mel Pedley.
"...Are we just expending a lot of effort to implement an concept that, 
whilst nice enough in theory, never really caught on amongst users in 

Almost Getting it Right with Access Keys
By Matt Bailey.
"Access keys are a method commonly used by web developers trying to 
make their sites more accessible. They allow the use of keyboard 
triggers to navigate your website. This navigation is most commonly 
achieved using the Alt key plus the designated trigger key. 
Unfortunately, Access keys have a flawed implementation in almost every 

Cascading Style Sheets And Accessibility
By Marco Bertoni.
"This article is the first of a series that will discuss how Cascading 
Style Sheets (CSS) can be used to make Web sites more accessible. This 
introductory discussion is not meant to be exhaustive. Subsequent 
articles will delve deeper and cover more advanced topics..."

Do the Rights of the Disabled Extend to the Blind on the Web?
By Bob Tedeschi.
"According to an advocacy group, Target declined last year to make its 
Web site fully accessible to blind people with specialized 
screen-reading technology last year. If true - and Target has denied 
the accusation in court - it was a public relations blunder, and it may 
have been illegal as well..."

The Open and Closed Project
By Joe Clark.
"The Open & Closed Project is a research project headquartered in 
Toronto. Our main goal is to write a set of standards for the four 
fields of accessible media - captioning, audio description, subtitling, 
and dubbing. We'll develop those standards through research and 
evidence-gathering. Where research or evidence is missing on a certain 
topic, we'll carry it out ourselves."

IBM Home Page Reader is Dead
Source: IBM-HPR Mailing List
"...IBM does not have plans for any further updates of HPR..."

IE7 and Various Screen Readers and Screen Enlargers
By Kelly Ford.
"Since we announced the release of IE7, we've noticed many questions 
and discussion about how well the program works with various screen 
readers and screen enlargers on the net. We wanted to provide the 
latest information we have from the various manufacturers of these 
products and answer some concerns around automatic updates."


Counter Intuitive
By Dave Shea.
"...every time I style an ordered list I wish there were some way to 
style list item counters independently of the content. Sure you could 
wrap extra markup around the content to achieve that somewhat, but it's 
not always practical and rarely desirable. But, there is a way. There's 
the counter-increment and counter-reset properties. As a part of 
generated content, I've simply overlooked them. Turns out they're good 
at this sort of thing..."

Newly Supported CSS Selectors in IE7
By John Gallant and Holly Bergevin.
"If you know a little about CSS selectors, you have probably discovered 
how limiting they can be in some ways. Well get ready to expand your 
CSS horizons, because IE7 has extended its selector support quite a 
bit, and we want you to become aware of the things these newly 
supported CSS combinator tools will do for you. All too soon we coders 
will be expected to know and use this stuff, so put on that 
thinking-cap and set the selector to 'Combinators.' Here we go..."

Again With the Browser Support Charts
By John Allsopp.
"If you had told me over 8 years ago, when we were first doing our 
browser CSS support charts that in late 2006 I'd still be compiling 
charts of how well new browsers support CSS (and the answer being 'OK') 
I really don't think I'd have believed you. Think about this: the web 
is now more than twice the age it was then. Yet, we still need to worry 
about at least one of the browsers which was around back then (well, at 
least a bit)."

+03: COLOR.

Color: An Investigation
By Joshua David McClurg Genevese.
"Many of us learned design on the job, as the internet took our careers 
down unexpected paths. We've focused on our most immediate and 
practical needs so we could sharpen our skills and meet deadlines. But 
the new professionalism in web design calls us to a higher standard and 
a deeper understanding of design's concepts, complexities, and 
historical underpinnings. It's time to immerse ourselves in what we 
missed, as columnist Joshua David McClurg Genevese takes us back to 
school in the first of three articles on color."


Eyetracking of Forms: Should we Accept the Conclusions?
By Caroline Jarrett.
"For ages, I've longed to do some eyetracking experiments on how users 
look at forms. And recently, I've been delighted to see the next best 
thing: excellent work by Matteo Penzo and his team..."

The Various Approaches to Evaluation and Measurement
By Intranet Benchmarking Forum.
"How intranet teams often evaluate and measure for the wrong reasons 
and without fully grasping what their intranet is for..."

Task-Centered User Interface Design: 4.1 Cognitive Walkthroughs
By Clayton Lewis and John Rieman.
"The cognitive walkthrough is a formalized way of imagining people's 
thoughts and actions when they use an interface for the first time..."

+05: EVENTS.

International Day of Disabled Persons
2006 Theme: "E-Accessibility"
December 3, 2006.

A Practical Guide to Usability Testing
December 7 2006.
London, United Kingdom

PHP Throwdown (24 hour coding marathon)
January 27, 2007.


Card Sorting
By Joshua Kaufman.
"If you're designing a system to organize content, you can either come 
up with your own labeling system - which may or may not be shared by 
others - or you can talk to the actual users of the system and learn 
how they perceive its content. There are many methods of gathering this 
user data, but they can often be both time-consuming and costly. 
Fortunately, there's hope: one method that is generally inexpensive, 
quick, and easy is card sorting."


Flash, JavaScript, and Providing Alternative Content
By Jonathan Christopher.
"The point I'm trying to make is that in this era of ever advancing Web 
technologies, it's still extremely important to provide alternate 
content. Readers come first, above your JavaScript animations and Flash 
movies. While it's completely great to offer those enhancements, there 
is a lot you can do to make sure a reader isn't faced with any barriers 
when it comes to a site you put together. In the end, as always, it's 
up to you."

PPK on JavaScript: The DOM - Part 1
By Peter-Paul Koch.
"In 1998, the W3C published its Level 1 DOM specification, which all 
browser vendors implemented. This week we're going to spend most of our 
time working with the Level 1 DOM, but we'll also take a look at the 
old Level 0 DOM, especially at its useful form-field properties."

EJ - The Only JavaScript Library You'll Ever Need
By Robert Nyman.
"The web is littered with full-blown JavaScript libraries who say they 
will save your day and make your web development life much easier. You 
get encouraged to include these 'mere 80 KB' libraries that is supposed 
to be the solution to all your needs, and practically make the web site 
work by itself. Needless to say, I'm not a big follower of JavaScript 
libraries,, especially since they almost always include lots of 
superfluous code, so I thought I'd put together a tiny library with 
only essential JavaScript functions..."

JavaScript Frameworks - Concept vs. Code Libraries
By Robert Nyman.
"Personally, I've never been a fan of huge JavaScript libraries, an 
opinion that was probably clear from what I wrote in my EJ - The only 
JavaScript library you'll ever need post. Even if they're written by 
very competent web developers, they almost always consist of more 
functions and methods that are necessary. However, I'd like to take 
this opportunity to explain the important difference between the two 
major types of JavaScript libraries: concept and code libraries..."

Scripts in XHTML
By Lachlan Hunt.
"I frequently come across people who aren't aware of the problems with 
using scripts inside XHTML documents. One of these problems is 
particularly fatal because it can cause a well-formedness error, but 
it's not seen as an issue when documents are served as text/html..."

Dynamic CSS Changes
By Ryan Campbell.
"When changing the appearance of a site through the use of JavaScript, 
we usually see developers either switch the stylesheet of the page or 
change the class of an element. And then, on occasion, we see the 
practice of changing appearance right in the JavaScript with the style 
property. On their own, these methods are all fairly reliable, but they 
don't play too nicely together."

CSS Photo Shuffler
By Carl Camera.
"A Javascript + CSS replacement for Flash photo fading slideshow. 
Inspired by Richard Rutter's image fade demonstration..."


Leveraging HTML and JavaScript in Apollo Applications (video)
By Chris Brichford.
"Session from 2006 Adobe Max developer conference. Chris Brichford 
(Engineer on Apollo team) talks about how you will be able to leverage 
HTML and JavaScript within Apollo (both as a top level application 
language and within Flash)."

Interview with D. Keith Robinson
By David Peralty.
"For me, Keith Robinson needs no introduction. A great writer, and 
designer among other things, I see his name popping up all over the 
place. You might have read some of his works on LifeHacker, A List 
Apart, among other places. I shot him an e-mail hoping to get his 
perspective on all the things going on with the blogosphere..."


Multiple Skip Links
By Mel Pedley.
"...Where there is a clear need for more than one skip link on a page, 
perhaps a visible skip link just before each section, or column, that 
requires it might be the best approach. In theory, this places less 
strain on the user to remember a whole list of links and means that 
they don't have to deal with a whole bunch of links at the top of every 
page before they get to some meaningful content."

+10: PHP.

Pro PHP Security/Preventing SQL Injection
By Chris Snyder and Michael Southwell.
"PHP is an extremely powerful yet easy-to-learn scripting language, 
affording even relatively inexperienced programmers the opportunity to 
create complex, dynamic websites. It is, however, notoriously difficult 
to ensure privacy and security of internet services. In this book, we 
will provide you with the security background every web developer 
needs, along with PHP-specific knowledge and code that you can use to 
protect the integrity of your own applications. We begin with an 
overview of server security that shows you how to assess privacy in a 
shared hosting environment, keep developers out of production servers, 
maintain up-to-date software, provide encrypted channels, and control 
access to your systems..."

XML Validation in PHP
By Pascal Opitz.
"Working with user input that needs to be valid XML, it turns out that 
PHP5 has a built-in validation function..."


Have Your Say about the Future of HTML
By Molly E. Holzschlag.
"...Any questions, comments, criticisms, complaints or feature requests 
are welcome. Now is the time to speak up. No comment is too dumb; no 
question is too hard or too simple; no criticism is too harsh. If you 
have anything at all to say, we are listening..."

Status of ISO 9241
By User Focus.
"Most people know that ISO 9241 is a usability standard, but did you 
know that it's currently being revised and will eventually contain over 
50 parts? Whatever your area of interest in usability, the new ISO 9241 
is bound to have a part that has an impact on your work. Find out the 
titles and the status of various parts with our handy table."

+12: TOOLS.

CLiCk, Speak
By Charles L. Chen.
"CLiCk, Speak is an open source, freely available extension for the 
Firefox web browser. It is part of the CLC-4-TTS Suite of products, it 
features a mouse driven interface, and it reads web pages - hence its 
name. Unlike Fire Vox which is designed for visually impaired users, 
CLiCk, Speak is designed for sighted users who want text-to-speech 
functionality. It doesn't identify elements or announce events - two 
features that are very important for visually impaired users but very 
annoying for sighted users. It also has a simplified, mouse driven 
interface that is designed to be easy for users familiar with 
point-and-click graphical user interfaces. Like Fire Vox, CLiCk, Speak 
works on Windows, Macintosh, and Linux; and Fire Vox has multilingual 
support, making it great for users who are trying to learn a foreign 
language and need to hear foreign language web sites read out to them 
for practice."

Playing with CSS Selectors
By Mauricio Samy Silva.
Enter advanced compound CSS selectors into a field. Results are 
displayed live on the same page.

By Drew McLellan.
"This is a lint tool (like a non-authoritative validator) for XFN, 
rel-tag and other microformats that make use of the rel attribute of 
links. It takes the form of a bookmarklet you can add to your browser 
and then run against any page. rel-lint will check for known XFN 
values, flag values it doesn't recognize (even though they may well be 
correct) and display the tag values for rel-tagged links."

"Perian is a free plugin that enables QuickTime to play almost every 
popular video format...Perian requires OS X 10.4.7."


Add Extra Lead Before and After Block Quotations
By Richard Rutter.
However the block quotations are set, there must be a visual 
distinction between main text and quotation, and again between the 
quotation and subsequent text..."

Stylin' Fonts and Text in CSS
By Charles Wyke-Smith.
"Much of Web design is dealing with type-in paragraphs, headlines, 
lists, menus, and forms. As a result, the properties in this chapter 
are essential to making the difference between a site that looks thrown 
together and one that looks like it has the professional touch. More 
than any other factor, type makes the clearest visual statement about 
the quality of your site's offerings. Graphics are the icing on the 
cake; typography is where good design begins..."


Creating a Universal Usability Agenda
By Whitney Quesenbery.
"How do you keep usability, accessibility, and user experience 
requirements on track while developing standards? It is part of the 
very nature of standards to focus on details-and in the process, to 
sometimes lose sight of the real goals. This is especially true when a 
standards-making process goes on for a long time, a situation is highly 
political, or most people are focused on technology issues..."

Five Usability Challenges of Web-Based Applications
By Jared M. Spool.
"...However, in design, the devil is always in the details. The above 
five usability challenges make web apps different from other types of 
design. Our research shows designers who are on the lookout and 
accommodate for them are more likely to create winning applications 
that delight users."

Some Historical Usability Research
By Colin Lieberman.
"...By following published usability and accessibility guidelines, and 
by understanding the psychology behind them, we are able to produce 
work that is findable, scannable, navigable, and usable. We are able to 
tackle this problem of too much information with good odds of 
success....More importantly however, is the value of enriching our 
understanding of the guidelines and studies we read..."

Selling Usability to Your Manager
By User Focus.
"Before you can implement a usability initiative in your organization, 
you'll need to convince your manager it's worthwhile. The obvious 
approach is to use a cost-benefit argument, but experience shows that 
this approach often fails because many managers find the data 
unconvincing. An alternative approach is to tailor your argument based 
on your manager's MBTI personality type. This approach generates many 
different ideas for selling usability within your organization and is 
much more persuasive."

The Ultimate Webdesign Usability Checklist
By Rogier Bikker.
"I noticed that I, and fellow web designers, keep making the same 
usability mistakes over and over. This checklist with 88 questions is a 
must read for every web designer who cares about usability..."

+15: XML.

Do Your Users Know Their RSS from Their Elbow?
By Chris Rourke.
"Whilst we get all excited about social software and Web 2.0, does the 
average web user care at all?  Should they?"

Cracks in the Foundation
By Micah Dubinko.
"Micah Dubinko takes aim at the legion of annoyances caused by XML 

[Section one ends.]


+16: 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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