[webdev] Web Design Update: December 7, 2006
lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Thu Dec 7 06:26:53 CST 2006
+++ WEB DESIGN UPDATE.
- Volume 5, Issue 25, December 7, 2006.
An email newsletter to distribute news and information about web design
++ISSUE 25 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.
13: What Can You Find at the Web Design Reference Site?
++ SECTION ONE: New references.
What's Up with Accessibility in 2007
By Sharron Rush.
"Access to the web for people with disabilities is a topic that has
gained a lot of attention in the years since 1999, when Knowbility was
founded. At that time, the WCAG 1.0 Guidelines were still in Draft
versions. Section 508 had been reauthorized, but the standards that
would define web accessibility for US government agencies had yet to be
adopted. It was not at all uncommon to receive blank stares from highly
experienced programmers and web developers if the subject of 'web
accessibility' was introduced. As 2006 draws to a close, that has
Defining 'Accessibility' and Texas House Bill 2819
By Jim Thatcher.
"...Texas House Bill 2819 makes the requirement of accessibility clear
and it makes the requirement practical."
Accessibility Legislation - an Insight
By Urte Meinhardt.
Summary of accessibility policies by country.
Before and After Demonstration [DRAFT]
"The 'Before and After Demonstration' is a multi-page resource suite
that shows common accessibility barriers using practical examples. The
demonstration consists of an inaccessible Web site, an accessible
version of the same site, as well as information about the demonstrated
barriers. This demonstration does not attempt to cover every checkpoint
of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) nor to provide an
exhaustive list of examples but to demonstrate some key aspects of Web
CBC Online Video: Shall we do this properly?
By Joe Clark.
If we're gonna start offering TV shows for download (and I'll use the
word 'we' advisedly), then we have to be better than the private
sector, which captions nothing...I'd like to hear a rational argument
why TV broadcasts should be captioned but TV downloads shouldn't. No?
Then let's continue. The only rational standard is for downloaded
versions to be captioned if the original TV show was. Since CBC
Television and Newsworld have 100%-captioning requirements, which
they're still ignoring...in theory every show will have captions. We
can do a couple of things..."
+02: CASCADING STYLE SHEETS.
Rounded Corner Boxes the CSS3 Way
By Andy Budd.
"If you've been doing CSS for a while you'll know that there are
approximately 3,762 ways to create a rounded corner box. The simplest
techniques rely on the addition of extra mark-up directly to your page,
while the more complicated ones add the mark-up though DOM
manipulation. While these techniques are all very interesting, they do
seem somewhat of a kludge. The goal of CSS is to separate structure
from presentation, yet here we are adding superfluous mark-up to our
code in order to create a visual effect. The reason we are doing this
is simple. CSS2.1 only allows a single background image per element..."
Methods for Testing in Multiple Versions of IE
By Zoe Gillenwater.
"Internet Explorer 7 (IE), released in October 2006, greatly improves
its CSS rendering capabilities. However, it's only available for
Windows XP and Vista, so we still have to support IE 6 ? and possibly
IE 5.5 and 5.0, depending on your site's audience ? for some time to
come. Unfortunately, the integration of IE into the Windows operating
system, and Microsoft's refusal to allow multiple versions of it to run
at the same time, have made testing web sites in various versions of
the ubiquitous browser difficult. There are, however, ways it can be
done, and the advent of IE 7 has brought some new methods out for our
consideration. In this article I'll provide an overview of the current
methods available for testing multiple versions of Windows IE and
provide the pros and cons of each method so you can decide which suits
Vertical Centering with a Shiv Div
By Matthew Tretter.
"Lots of designers have used this trick to vertically center blocks of
known size in browser windows but, as Jon Hicks points out, some
content may be cropped if the browser window is too small. Though it
requires a little extra markup, my solution addresses this problem by
positioning a shiv div instead of the content itself..."
Going Mobile: Development and Preparation
By Joe Dolson.
"...If accessibility is about ensuring your visitor's ability to use
and enjoy your website, then it's not an unreasonable goal to develop a
site to be usable in the maximum variety of situations. Once you become
aware of the overlap between handheld browser compatibility and
accessibility, it hardly seems like a major step to jump into mobile
device compatibility. With the rapid growth of the handheld browser
market, it's unwise not to at least consider mobile browsers while
developing your website..."
Faster Development with CSS Constants
By Rachel Andrew.
"Anyone even slightly familiar with a programming language will have
come across the concept of constants - a fixed value that can be used
through your code. For example, in a PHP script I might have a constant
which is the email address that all emails generated by my application
get sent to."
+03: EVALUATION & TESTING.
Expert Usability Review vs. Usability Testing
By Lisa Halabi.
"In the usability world there are two ways of evaluating an existing
website: expert usability reviews and usability testing. But what's the
difference? And which one's better?"
MX San Francisco
February 2-13, 2007.
San Francisco, California U.S.A.
Computer/Human Interaction 2007
April 23-May 3, 2007.
San Jose, California U.S.A.
May 15-17, 2007.
By Roger Johansson.
"...It's very disturbing to see this trend of not giving any (or
enough) thought to what will happen when a browser doesn't support the
technologies you want to use. It's even more disturbing to see the
DHTML libraries of the late nineties - start using them and common
sense goes out the window unless you have the experience to use them
right. I admit that I too went overboard with scripting around the turn
of the century. But I think I learned my lesson. I really hope I did."
Hide And Seek in The Head
By Peter-Paul Koch.
understandable to scripted and noscript users alike, you have to think
before you code. Which functionalities are required (ie. should work
scripted)? You should only start creating the site when you've taken
Tasty Text Trimmer
By Drew McLellan.
"In most cases, when designing a user interface it's best to make a
decision about how data is best displayed and stick with it. Failing to
make a decision ultimately leads to too many user options, which in
turn can be taxing on the poor old user. Under some circumstances,
however, it's good to give the user freedom in customizing their
workspace. One good example of this is the 'Article Length' tool in
Apple's Safari RSS reader. Sliding a slider left of right dynamically
changes the length of each article shown. It's that kind of awesomely
magic stuff that's enough to keep you from sleeping. Let's build one..."
By Stefan Esser.
"Several people were researching HTML portscanning during the last
days. Basically this is nothing more than requesting stuff through the
link tag, because it halts page rendering and checking how long it
took. A typical timing attack that people nowadays even use to break
is however that they do not mention how they want to get an IP range to
Java activated and without Java there is no public method to get the
victim's local IP. Considering the HTML scanning speed it might take
months to scan all possible private IP addresses. If you can scan a
Class-C subnet in 2 minutes then you will need more than 91 days to
scan only the private IP addresses in the 10.x.x.x subnet. Have fun
with that... (and especially if the interesting sites are not reachable
by IP but only by hostname. So you might find out that a server is up,
but you still cannot attack it)..."
By Stefan Esser.
"Yesterday I blogged about a way to bypass HTTP Auth popus that used a
'abuse the server' approach. Today I will show a way to bypass HTTP
auth in Firefox and in some cases bruteforce HTTP auth in Firefox in
By Stefan Esser.
loaded and what size they are. With this ability it is trivial to
detect if PHP is running on an URL if expose_php=On. Here is the little
proof of concept..."
By Peter Quinsey.
"Ajax offers the ability to avoid both needless browser behavior like
page reloads and useful browser behavior like error handling. When good
web apps go bad, Peter Quinsey's guidelines and techniques can help you
and your users stay informed and productive."
Interview with Simon Collison
By Carolyn Wood.
"...Simon Collison, aka Colly, is one of the most talented people
around and he has a lot to say in my interview with him, about his
design process, his love of illustration and music, working with
clients, Erskine Design, and much more..."
Avoid Edge Cases by Designing Up Front
By Ben Henick.
"By the time they reach the coding stage, many web projects are a
tangle of exceptions -- and that can make standards-based development a
nightmare. Better planning may be exactly what you need to avoid markup
derangement or, even worse, a dysfunctional product."
Words as Pointers, and the Meaning of Web 2.0
By Tim O'Reilly.
"I had a great exchange with Steven White the other day in the comments
on my entry Why Web 2.0 is More Than a Buzzword."
Web 2.0 = the web
By John Allsopp.
"Tim Berners-Lee gave us...the name 'world wide web' (and I mean quite
literally gave). It's served us well for 15 years. I think it sill
works well. Let's keep using it a little while longer yet eh?.."
Web 2.0: The Power Behind the Hype
By Jared M. Spool.
"...Problems not withstanding, we still feel that this emerging
standard, combined with other new tools, such as AJAX and open source
infrastructures, makes for a new and exciting environment. There's been
a tremendous amount of hype surrounding all these new developments,
but, for once, we are thinking that there really is some power that is
beneath the hype that is worth paying attention to."
Criteria for Using Web 2.0
By Alastair Campbell.
"...I distilled the main issues down to three criteria. I'm not
claiming anything new here, but I do keep having to stress these: 1.
The end-user must have a motivation for using the functions. 2. The
functionality must not hinder the business. 3. The functionality must
be feasible within the technological and resource constraints of the
More on Meaningless Link Labels
By Jared Smith.
"...alternative text for an image should convey the CONTENT and
FUNCTION of the image. Defining function can be quite difficult. Here's
a few tips..."
Why Intranet Search Fails
By Gerry McGovern.
"Intranet search performs miserably because most organizations do
not properly manage their content..."
Use Sitemap Standards to Help Search Engines
By Tony Patton.
"Sitemaps provide a way for Web sites to specify what pages within the
site should be indexed and what new content has been added. Tony Patton
offers an overview of the sitemap standard..."
Accessible Dynamic Links
By Mike Davies.
"Although hyperlinks are the soul of the World Wide Web, it's worth
using them in moderation. Too many links becomes a barrier for visitors
navigating their way through a page. This difficulty is multiplied when
the visitor is using assistive technology, or is using a keyboard;
being able to skip over a block of links doesn't make the task of
finding a specific link any easier. In an effort to make sites easier
to use, various user interfaces based on the hiding and showing of
links have been crafted. From drop-down menus to expose the deeper
structure of a website, to a decluttering of skip links so as not to
impact design considerations. Both are well intentioned with the aim of
preserving a good usability experience for the majority of a website's
audience; hiding the real complexity of a page until the visitor
interacts with the element..."
Optimizing System Performance
By George Schlossnagle.
"In this second part of a two part series, you'll learn how to use
debuggers and optimize performance. It is excerpted from chapter 12 of
the book Zend PHP Certification, written by George Schlossnagle et al."
My Experience Moving to PHP5
By John Lim.
"In August of this year, we decided to move from PHP4 to PHP5 for all
our future PHP development..."
By Dave Child.
"Adding and removing variables to and from URLs using PHP is a
relatively simple process admittedly, but I have a couple of functions
I use often to make the process even less time-consuming..."
Vanilla on Rails: The Coexistence of PHP and Ruby
By Jesse Skinner.
"I'm going to debunk another myth that might keep you from trying out
Ruby on Rails (or any other new server language). MYTH: Once you start
using Rails, you have to do everything in Rails..."
By Nate Weaver.
"Paparazzi! is a small utility for Mac OS X that makes screenshots of
By Bruce Phillips.
"This application is a GUI method for changing the screenshot (screen
capture) settings in Mac OS X v10.4 (Tiger). Note that you can also
drag-n-drop a folder onto this application to change the default
Web Design is 95 Percent Typography
By Information Architects.
"95 Percent of the information on the web is written language. It is
only logical to say that a web designer should get good training in the
main discipline of shaping written information, in other words:
Best Fonts for the Web
By Kathy Marks.
"For years I've been meaning to put together a "cheat sheet" of fonts
and font alternatives for quick selection but never got around to it.
Today I finally got so tired of Arial and Helvetica that I sat down to
write a few out."
More About Web Fonts: Basics and a Few Surprises
By Kathy Marks.
"During my venture into typography, I collected a hodgepodge of
information and tips on using type on the web. In the hope of making
sense of it all, I've tried to organize these jottings. Most are basics
that I've included as helpful reminders, but I also found a few
The Font Controversy: Ems, Percentages, Pixels and Points
By Kathy Marks.
"To conclude these notes about fonts, I turn to the Great Size Debate.
In summary, the controversy concerns what unit of measurement designers
should use to size text. The topic is, of course, much more complex
than that statement conveys. In fact, reams (or screens) have been
written on the issue. The primary points are these..."
The Complexity of Simplicity
By Luke Wroblewski.
"Though many business strategies and publications continue to trumpet
the power of simplicity in the design of digital products, for lots of
companies and product teams, simplicity doesn't come easy..."
By Jakob Nielsen.
"Progressive disclosure defers advanced or rarely used features to a
secondary screen, making applications easier to learn and less
How Many People Does It Take to Turn Off a Vista PC?
By Charles Arthur.
"Let's see: three separate teams each of eight programmers and testers
and designers and a manager, plus six layers of managers for each team,
plus an ubermanager for them all - that's 43. The number comes from
Moishe Lettvin, who spent his 'worst' year out of seven at Microsoft
working on a feature for Vista which he says 'should've been designed,
implemented and tested in a week"...."
Differences Between HTML and XHTML
By WHATWG Wiki.
"Although HTML and XHTML appear to have similarities in their syntax,
they are significantly different in many ways..."
Is RSS a Bad Idea?
By Christina Wodtke.
"Okay, admittedly I'm stirring the pot here, but I was just thinking:
why do we care so much about RSS?..."
[Section one ends.]
++ SECTION TWO:
+13: 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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