[webdev] Web Design Update: December, 29, 2006

Laura Carlson lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Fri Dec 29 06:26:22 CST 2006

- Volume 5, Issue 28, December 29, 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.
07: FLASH.
12: PHP.
14: TOOLS.

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

[Contents ends.]

++ SECTION ONE: New references.


The U.S. Needs Exemplary Accessibility
By Mike Cherim.
"Why should US businesses make their sites accessible? Especially 
considering it's not toothy law and where the law does apply, there is 
little to no compliance to serve as a worthy example. For instance, 
since 1998, sites affiliated with and for the US government are 
supposed to comply with Section 508 guidelines. But many, if not most, 
don't. I suspected this was simply due to aged designs that would be 
made accessible when refurbished. After yesterday morning, though, I 
realize the US isn't even close. I don't particularly want to criticize 
my own country's government, but the failings in the area of web 
accessibility is undeniably pathetic. Get with the program Uncle 

Making Forms Accessible
By Adrian Rayfield.
"Forms play an important part in any web site. They can be used to 
allow your visitors to contact you, to order items or so you can 
collate information. If these forms are not usable or accessible your 
user will not be able to have this interaction with you. This article 
will explain some key points in making forms accessible..."

Creating Accessible Forms
By Stanford University.
"Forms are an important part of any web site. Forms allow for 
interaction between a site and people visiting or using the web site in 
the shape of information collection - either for dynamic re-processing 
(aka AJAX), or simply used as a submission tool (feedback or reporting 
form). In order to ensure the widest possible usage of forms on your 
web site, the forms must be created with accessibility and usability in 


Intricate Fluid Layouts in Three Easy Steps
By Nate Koechley.
"Nate Koechley demonstrates how the compact and powerful YUI Grids 
stylesheet can be used to conjure up all manner of layouts from the 
simple to the complex. Take it easy over the festive period, and let 
the YUI Grids do all the hard work for you."

Gravity-Defying Page Corners
By Dan Cederholm.
"Dan Cederholm is a skillful designer who's attention to pixels could 
ne'er be finer. He brings technique for good boys and girls of how to 
create nice graphical curls. So on the night before Christmas all 
through your house, get your page curling by stirring your mouse."

Keeping CSS File Sizes Lean for Practicality and Sport
By Ask The CSS Guy.
One of the benefits touted by separating style from structure is 
smaller html file sizes. But with many sites, the accompanying CSS 
file(s) can offset the savings in size, with CSS declarations that can 
quickly add up. Doug Bowman's site, for example, has 50 KBs worth of 
CSS. Since CSS is cached, and therefore only downloaded once, and since 
a growing number of people are on broadband connections, some 
developers might not see this as a problem.

Internet Explorer and the CSS Box Model
By Roger Johansson.
"...If you already know how the different box models work and how to 
handle Internet Explorer, there is nothing new for you here. If you get 
different box dimensions in IE and other browsers without knowing why, 
keep reading..."

+03: Color.

Cheating Color
By Jason Santa Maria.
"Jason Santa Maria continues our mini series looking at colour as he 
trips the light fantastic with your corporate brand guidelines. When is 
a colour not a colour? Read on and find out why old Saint Nic's collars 
don't match his cuffs."

Photographic Palettes
By Dave Shea.
"Dave Shea casts a critical eye over the process of choosing a color 
palette - in particular, techniques for picking tones from a 
photograph. As Santa found one foggy Christmas eve, choice of color can 
be absolutely critical to success."


Migrating from Microsoft FrontPage 2003 to Adobe Dreamweaver 8
By Cheryl D. Wise.
"FrontPage users: Get the skills you need to move up to Dreamweaver for 
your web development needs."

Macromedia Dreamweaver 8
By University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
Tutorials cover Environment, Basics, Lists, Links, Images, Tables, 
Cascading Style Sheets, Templates, Local and Remote Sites, Forms, Find 
and Replace, and Maintaining a Website.

Creating and Applying Templates in Dreamweaver
By University of Virginia.
"Dreamweaver templates assist web designers in creating and applying a 
consistent page design and layout across a web site. Using templates 
also cuts down on site maintenance as changes to these items may be 
used to globally update the pages in your site..."


When Should You Use Personas?
By Jared Spool.
"Over at the IxDA Discussion list, there's been a interesting 
discussion about whether or not Personas are a good idea. I think they 
are extremely useful, but not for all people in all situations. In 
specific, I've found personas to be very important under the following 

+06: EVENTS.

January 18-19, 2007.
Sandusky, Ohio, U.S.A.

Gerry McGovern Master Class
January 31, 2007.
Dublin, Ireland.

Microsoft - Designertopia - free your ideas
February 1-2, 2007.
London, United Kingdom

Future of Web Apps London 2007
February 20-22, 2007.
London, United Kingdom

Designing and Writing Forms for the Web
March 14, 2007.
Washington, D.C., U.S.A.

Usability Testing That Gets Results
March 22-23, 2007.
Washington, D.C., U.S.A.

Basics of Information Architecture
March 28, 2007.
Washington, D.C., U.S.A.

Gerry McGovern Master Class
March 6, 2007.
Stockholm, Sweden

+07: FLASH.

18 Questions for Niqui Merret and Aral Balkan on Flash and Accessibility
By Chris Heilmann.
"I was asked by some German friends if I knew something about Flash and 
Accessibility for a German podcast, and I said yes, but most of it is 
hearsay and some testing some years ago..."

ISO: Funny Acronym for Flash Revival
By Jeff Croft.
"...Flash needs to have a renaissance the way Javascript has over the 
past year and a half...Yeah, it's not a standard. Yeah, it requires a 
plugin. Yeah, it can be abused. Yeah, it requires you to sell your soul 
to Macrodobe. And yeah, it means you'll have to admit that web 
standards aren't the be-all-and-end-all of everything. But Flash is 
incredibly ubiquitous, renders exactly the same in every browser, has a 
new-version adoption rate that puts every browser's to shame - and you 
can do some pretty amazing stuff with it..."

Creating Fluid Layouts in Flash - Part 1: The Basics
By Joseph Balderson.
"This tutorial will explore the basics of creating a flexible stage 


2001 to 2006: Five Years of Information Architecture
By Karen Loasby.
"In 2001, FreePint featured an article on the still-new concept of 
information architecture (IA) in 'Information Architecture and web 
Usability Resources'. Five years on, IA may still be an unfamiliar term 
for many, but it is a booming field bustling with conferences, books 
and rather desperate recruitment consultants struggling to fill a 
myriad of vacancies..."


Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA) Working Drafts
By W3C.
"W3C WAI's work on accessibility of AJAX, DHTML, and other application 
technologies includes the Accessibility for Rich Internet Applications 
(WAI-ARIA) Suite. Updated Working Drafts of the WAI-ARIA Suite 
documents were published 20 December 2006. WAI encourages you to review 
these documents and submit any comments."

A Scripting Carol
By Derek Featherstone.
"Derek Featherstone contemplates the effects that the lack of CSS or 
JavaScript may have on your scripts. Let the spirits of Christmas past, 
present and future guide you so that your scripts needn't give up the 
ghost in the face of adversity."

Alert Boxes, Error Messages, and Pop-up Windows
By Stanford University.
"Don't hide warnings, disclaimers or error messages with JavaScript or 
other client-side scripting. If a message is important, it is always 
important. Hidden content in dynamic pages will not be available to Web 
devices that don't support the particular script language. If you 
cannot imagine showing a warning or disclaimer before it is necessary, 
then try to develop a server-side solution that will rebuild and serve 
a modified page with the warning embedded in it..."


Webdev Radio
By Michael Kimsal.
"Podcast series on all topics relating to web development."

Interview with Christian Heilman (Podcast)
By Michael Kimsal.
"Noted javascript guru Christian Heilman joins us today for a 
conversation about his new book, 'Beginning Javascript with DOM 
Scripting and AJAX'. Along the way we discuss the state of Javascript 
toolkits, including the Yahoo UI toolkit. Additionally, the upcoming 
codemash conference is mentioned."

Six Things That Suck About the Web in 2006
By Roger Johansson.
"With 2006 coming to an end I wanted to post a little rant about some 
of the trends that I find really annoying about the Web this year...1. 
JavaScript frameworks/libraries...2. Ajax..3. High contrast, 
light-on-dark designs...4. Headings that aren't real text...5. 
Accessibility extremists and design zealots...6. Over-wide, fixed width 

Assertiveness for Software Developers
By Jeff Atwood.
"As software developers, we're great at communicating with computers. 
But we're typically not so great at communicating with other 
people...We present our best estimates, but we aren't assertive enough 
to stand up for them. Because we don't fight for our estimates, we get 
negotiated down to an untenable position..."


By Stanford University.
"Clearly indicating the destination of your hyperlink allows all users 
to decide if they wish to pursue the link now, in the future, or not at 

Skip Navigation Link / Skip To Content Link
By Stanford University.
"By now, most web developers understand that for users of screen 
reading software, the software reads aloud the page content in the 
order with which it appears in your source code. While you may be able 
to style chunks of content on your page to appear in a certain order or 
place on the page, the screen readers continue to process the 
information in a linear format, regardless of that visual styling."

Why Spell Check is Important for Your Web Site
By John S. Britsios.
"Checking the spelling of the text on your web site is very important; 
to ensure good content accessibility and readability for your readers, 
and better crawlability and indexing for search engines..."

Human Touch
By Theresa Regli.
"There's often mention of the need for 'people input' or 'the human 
factor' when creating taxonomies. But what exactly does that mean?...If 
'rocket' did mean the same thing to everyone, it would be far easier to 
sit back and let software create taxonomies and classify content 
without human intervention. But sadly, we're still picking 
classification terms out of long drop-down menus and clicking 'submit.' 
Content managers begin to see cross-eyed, corporate librarians revise 
and retrain. Is there a happy medium? What amount of 'the human factor' 
-- the influence that people bring to the process of creating a 
taxonomy and subsequently, tagging content -- really makes sense? How 
much should subject matter experts be involved, from the beginning of 
the process through ongoing maintenance?"

+12: PHP.

Secure and Accessible PHP Contact Form
Stand-Alone v.2.0
By Mike Cherim
"This easy-to-install form has many accessibility, usability, and 
security features over my old form that used to be offered on this 

Reading RSS feeds in PHP: Part 1
Ian Gilfillan.
"This month, I show you how to create a basic RSS reader yourself..."

Fluent Interfaces in PHP
By Cal Evans.
"Fluent Interfaces is not a new programming construct, in fact many of 
you may be doing it without knowing it's name. In other languages it is 
commonly known as 'chaining'. However, PHP developers have not been 
able to use them until PHP 5. Now with PHP 5 and the ability to 
directly de-reference an object, PHP developers can build objects using 
fluent interfaces."


Future of the HTML Working Group
By Daniel Glazman.
"Given the importance of the subject, given the fact the proposed 
charter for the 'new' HTML WG is under discussion until the 7th of 
January, I have decided to make my official comments as a W3C member on 
that proposed charter public...Important disclaimer: as I said in the 
comments, I do trust the individual Chris Wilson...he's an excellent 
choice - if not the best choice - for this WG chair. Unfortunately, 
after all these years in the W3C I also know very well the Consortium 
is not only a cool place where friendly geeks meet and co-edit 
documents, where cool people dedicated to the quality and future of the 
Web give their time, neurones and energy... More important, it's a 
battlefield, it's THE battlefield of the Web. Companies join the 
Consortium to promote their competitive advantage(s), and be the first 
one, the only one. Because of that, and trust me this is NOT primary 
anti-microsoftism, I just cannot understand how and why the chair of 
the HTML WG is given to a major desktop browser vendor, Microsoft in 
this case. Microsoft, Opera, Mozilla and Apple should be banned from 
the chair of this new HTML WG to preserve its full independence or an 
independent co-chair should be added for that purpose."

Comments on the HTML WG Charter
By Daniel Glazman.

Reinventing HTML: Update
By Dan Connolly.
Dan Connolly, previous HTML WG chairman until the release of HTML 4, 
has posted a some thoughts on the W3C QA blog.

Change in Group Lead
By Drew McLellan.
After three years Molly Holzschlag is stepping down as group leader of 
the Web Standards Project. Kimberly Blessing and Drew McLellan are 
stepping up to co-lead the organization into 2007.

Christmas Quiz II - An Answer
By Brian Kelly.
"...W3C (and, by association) W3C member organizations have been 
backing XHTML 2.0 (which, as Patrick mentions, is not backwards 
compatible) whereas the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working 
Group (WHAT-WG), which includes Opera and Mozilla browser vendors, are 
arguing for an evolutionary development to HTML 4 which will provide 
richer interactivity through a language which is (even more 
confusingly) referred to as either HTML 5 or XHTML 5 on the WHATWG home 
page! In the early stages of development of new standards there are 
often fierce debates to be had. At the end of the process a compromise 
may be reached (but whether this compromise is a fusion of the best 
features from both camps or a flawed political fudge is another 
question). It is to be hoped that a sensible decision is arrived at 
eventually. But if this doesn't happen, whose camp would you support: 
W3C and Microsoft's or Mozilla and Opera's?..."

+14: TOOLS.

By Michael Kaply.
A microformat detection extension for Firefox 2. "Operator lets you 
combine pieces of information on Web sites with applications in ways 
that are useful. For instance, Flickr + Google Maps, Upcoming.org + 
Google Calendar, Yahoo! Local + your address book, and many more 
possibilities and permutations. All of these scenarios are possible due 
to Microformats, an emerging standard for injecting semantics into 
Related Operator Info:


Unfolding the Fold
By ClickTale.
"...These statistics demonstrate that the vast majority of web 
designers are designing pages with scrolling, that the majority of 
users do scroll and that a significant portion of them scroll all the 
way to the page bottom. While 22% may seem low at first, it is actually 
quite high as many page-views are repeat views where the visitors have 
previously scrolled all the way to the page bottom and are already 
familiar with the page. In addition, visitors often find what they are 
looking for near the beginning of the page and may not bother scrolling 
further down..."

Usability in the Movies - Top 10 Bloopers
By Jakob Nielsen.
"User interfaces in film are more exciting than they are realistic, and 
heroes have far too easy a time using foreign systems."

Clash of the Titans: Agile and UCD
By Richard F. Cecil.
"Agile software development has become fairly popular in the last few 
years, leaving many UX professionals wondering how user-centered design 
(UCD) can fit into an extremely fast-paced development process that 
uses little documentation. User-centered design can involve a variety 
of techniques that provide insights into users' wants, needs, and 
goals, including ethnography, contextual inquiry, contextual 
interviewing, usability testing, task analysis, and others. But all of 
these take time-time that an agile development process might not allow. 
There is hope, though. Agile and UCD methods are not completely at odds 
with each other-and in some cases, agile development can even enable a 
more user-centered approach. By taking the time to understand the 
differences and similarities between agile development and UCD, it's 
possible to devise a process that is both user-centered and agile."

Design Stories: Character Counters
By Robert Hoekman.
"Here's a look at the design of character counters (the little text 
messages used to indicate how many characters can be entered into a 
text field). Many sites skimp on the grace that character counters can 
offer and use something that takes the least amount of work to build, 
but can be quite frustrating for users. For example, an input field 
with a set character limit should communicate that limit to users, but 
many sites leave this important element out..."

Writing for the Web
By Stanford University.
"Preparing content for the web is much more than just copying text from 
your favorite word processor and pasting it into the framework of a web 

[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.]



WEB DESIGN UPDATE is available by subscription. For information on how 
to subscribe and unsubscribe please visit:
The Web Design Reference Site also has a RSS 2.0 feed for site updates.


As a navigation aid for screen readers we do our best to conform to the 
accessible Text Email Newsletter (TEN) guidelines.  Please let me know 
if there is anything else we can do to make navigation easier. For TEN 
guideline information please visit:


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.]

More information about the Webdev mailing list