[webdev] Web Design Update: January 19, 2007

Laura Carlson lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Fri Jan 19 06:21:38 CST 2007

- Volume 5, Issue 31, January 19, 2007.

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:

02: COLOR.
06: FLASH.
10: PHP.
12: TOOLS.
14: XML.

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

[Contents ends.]

++ SECTION ONE: New references.


Practical, Entry-Level Web Accessibility
By Mike Cherim.
"You may have an appreciation of web accessibility but are scared of 
even going there..."

Tips and Tools: Web Captioning
By National Center on Disability and Access to Education.
"The following is a brief introduction to the principles and potential 
challenges of captioning for the web. It is meant to be a starting 
point, not a definitive guide to captioning. If you are interested in 
learning more, read the NCDAE captioning article, WebAIM captioning 
articles and a list of captioning resources from WebAIM. WebAIM is a 
partner with NCDAE..."

Just What Happened on Those WCAG 2 Conference Calls on Cognitive 
By Joe Clark.
"The WCAG Working Group has been going out of its way not to document 
the conference calls it held in late 2006 on accommodation of cognitive 
and learning disabilities in WCAG 2. Nonetheless, one participant wrote 
a recollection (lightly copy-edited)..."

Create Good, One Alt Attribute at a Time
By Kim Krause Berg.
"...Maybe all it takes is one new image alt attribute or text link 
title attribute a day, to get a feeling of accomplishing something 
positive for somebody. It's a terribly small piece of html code, but a 
leap forward for humankind..."

Style Over Substance?
By Paul Crichton.
"...So if style matters to most people, why should it not also be a 
consideration for accessible products? There are some exceptions that 
prove the rules, but on the whole, accessible devices have a nasty 
tendency to be big and clunky, with big, brightly colored buttons. 
Perhaps the answer lies in more inclusive design. After all, whilst 
some of these gadgets are seen as the tools of the young, they too will 
be old one day, and have access issues as well. I can just see Steve 
Jobs trying to make the latest diminutive iPod work with his arthritic 
fingers in 2067. Apple's new iPhone has got people salivating about how 
sexy it is. However, it is hard to imagine anything that could make the 
iPhone less accessible than replacing the keypad with a touch screen - 
a move that has interestingly brought quite a lot of praise for 
improving usability. That's fine while there is still choice in the 
market, but if this becomes the standard mobile, then what will that 
mean to everyone that has trouble using a touch screen?..."

+02: COLOR.

Always Specify A Background Colour
By Christopher Hester.
"Avoid a mix of unwanted colours on your page."

Automatic Color Harmony Tools
By Andrew B. King.
"...This article summarizes the work of researchers from Tel Aviv 
University and Microsoft who have created a tool that automatically 
enhances the color harmony of a photograph or image, while remaining as 
faithful as possible to the original colors..."

Colorblind HomePage
By Terrace L. Waggoner.
"This web-site defines being colorblind and will educate you about the 
different types of colorblindness. It explains why you may be 
colorblind and what teachers, school nurses, and parents should know 
about being colorblind. You will learn about a new "pediatric" color 
vision test for early detection."

Color Vision Testing Made Easy
By Terrace L. Waggoner.
"This on-line color vision test consists of four cards from the popular 
color vision test  "Color Vision Testing Made Easy"..."

ColorVision Test
By Mike Bennet.
This is a series of five color plates which are filled with colored 
dots. Whether or not you can see certain numbers in those fields of 
dots lets you know if you are colorvision challenged.


Dreamweaver 8 Tutorials
By B. Anderson.
"This Dreamweaver tutorial is just what you need to get up to speed 
using Dreamweaver to create web pages. Whether you're creating a 
personal page for your family, a school or classroom web site, or one 
for your small business, Dreamweaver is a powerful tool that will help 
get the job done. Each Dreamweaver tutorial features text and screen 
shots, and some include narrated multimedia tutorials in Flash..."


What Do People Think of Your Site Design? Here's How To Find Out
By Dan Brown.
"Usability testing is an essential part of the web design diet. In a 
nutshell, it's a technique for soliciting feedback on the design of a 
web site. Usability testing is usually conducted on one participant at 
a time, and attempts to have participants use the site in as close to a 
real-world setting as possible. Different people have different 
approaches to usability testing but two things remain consistent-the 
documents describing what you'll do during the test (the plan) and what 
came out of the test (the results report). This chapter describes the 
test plan-the document you prepare in advance of testing."

Taking Personas Too Far
By Kim Goodwin.
"...although personas are essential design tools, we think some people 
may be losing sight of the fact that they're just tools, and tools with 
a specific purpose, at that. Lately, we've been seeing a lot of 
gold-plated hammers - unnecessarily elaborate communication about 
personas - and some fundamental misunderstandings about the 
relationships among research, personas, and scenarios..."

+05: EVENTS.

Functional Testing of Web Resources for Accessibility
February 14, 2007 or February 28, 2007.
Champaign, Illinois, U.S.A.

2 Day Universal Design Workshop
March 8-9, 2007.
Champaign, Illinois, U.S.A.

SXSW Interactive 2007 - Higher Education Meetup
March 10, 2007.
Austin, Texas, U.S.A.

AJAX 2007
April 17, 2007.
London, United Kingdom

World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and 
June 25-29, 2007.
Vancouver, Canada

O'Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON) 2007
July 23-27, 2007.
Portland, Oregon, U.S.A.

Advanced Writing for the Web Practicum
June 27, 2007.
Washington, D.C., U.S.A.

+06: FLASH.

Developing Flash Websites Using Progressive Enhancement
By Bobby van der Sluis.
"Although Adobe Flash Player is one of the most widely distributed web 
clients available, there is still a group of people who are hesitant to 
use Adobe Flash content. They often describe Flash as a wonderful tool 
that can make a real contribution to a website's audiovisual appeal and 
interactivity. But they also warn others not to overdo things because 
entire websites designed in Flash would both be opaque to search 
engines and lock out a certain group of potential visitors. In this 
article I explain that this doesn't necessarily have to be the case..."

SEFFS: To Flash Or Not To Flash
By Claus Wahlers.
"Macromedia's Flash Player is a remarkable piece of software. It is 
widely deployed, features a full ECMAScript implementation, an XML 
parser, audio and video capabilities and an advanced vector rendering 
engine, and many more. If used appropriately, it can provide visitors 
of your website with a better, richer and unique browsing experience. 
However, there are chances that visitors of your Flash enabled website 
can't or don't want to see Flash content (SWF)..."

Faust: Flash Augmenting Standards
By blog.space150.
"Every web developer faces the problem sooner or later. The client - or 
the designer - wants to use interactive animation, video or sound to 
communicate their ideas..."

Using Alternate Content as Content in Flash
By Geoff Stearns.
"I've been going on and on about using progressive enhancement on your 
pages that use Flash ever since I released FlashObject. The idea is 
that you build your pages without Flash, then add in the Flash parts 
later using Javascript if the user has the correct version of the Flash 
player. One of the really cool side effects of doing this is that 
Google will then index your alternate content..."


Flash-Only vs. AJAX Sites
By Emil Stenstrom.
Even though web developers like me have discouraged from building 
Flash-only sites for as long as I remember, they are popping up all 
over the place. For no reason! We are ready to make the leap to 
standards. And our weapon with be AJAX. What kind of sites are built 
with only Flash?

AJAX Debugging with Firebug
By Joe Hewitt.
"Firebug, an extension I wrote for the Firefox browser... makes web 
development fun again. Combined with your favorite text editor, the 
freely available Firebug...is a highly productive IDE for the complete 
stack of AJAX technologies..."

Again JavaScript Libraries
By Peter Paul Koch.
"In the last days of last year, while I was enjoying a holiday from 
obtrusive RSS feeds, the JavaScript library discussion seems to have 
heated up once more. Here's an overview of recent thinking about 
JavaScript libraries. The remainder of this entry is going to 
concentrate on the Stuart's and Chris's articles, in that order..."

Don't Buy the Pig in the Wig or 'Why Most JavaScript Tutorials Still 
Christian Heilmann.
"...there is no reason why JavaScript should not be an integral part of 
web application and web site design - if used in an unobtrusive manner 
and with maintenance in mind of course.
However, lately I've discovered that there are a lot of publications 
cropping up that have been rightfully forgotten and got a lick of paint 
and the label Ajax just to be sold again without really looking into 
upgrading them. You find terrible examples of convoluted JavaScript 
that was needed in the high time of the browser wars in these books and 
articles. You also find examples using technologies that are simply not 
logical to use and actually have proven time and time again to be more 
destructive than helpful for the usability of your product..."


Great Minds in Development Video Series
By DevSource.
Interviews with Jakob Nielsen, Steve Krug, Lou Rosenfeld and others.

Lee Laughlin Interview
By Matt Bailey.
"Albinism and Low Vision Search and Accessibility"

John Allsopp: Video Interview on Style Master, CSS, Microformats and 
the Web
By Kazuhito Kidachi.
"During Web Directions South, Japanese web standards powerhouse 
Kazuhito Kidachi, who has attended all of our conferences down under, 
did an interview with John Allsopp about all kinds of things, but with 
a strong focus on microformats. Part one of the interview is here, and 
part two, here in English, with Japanese subtitles..."


Are You Google-Friendly?
By Heidi Bautista.
"Is it possible to ensure that Google finds, crawls, and indexes your 
site? Well, no, there's no way to guarantee your site will be included 
in Google's index but you can make your site Google-friendly, thus 
improving your chances. Google even provides the guidelines and tools. 
This article provides an overview of Google's Webmaster Tools and how 
you can use them to increase your Google-friendliness and in the 
process, hopefully, increase your ranking in the search results."

+10: PHP.

The Building Blocks: Data Types, Literals, Variables, and Constants
By Ellie Quigley.
"A program can do many things, including perform calculations, sort 
names, prepare phone lists, display images, play chess, ad infinitum, 
based on the data given to it. Data types specify what kind of data can 
be stored and manipulated within a program..."

Using SimpleXML To Parse RSS Feeds
By Stuart Herbert.
"...I can fake the multiblog by putting several different blogs on the 
site, and generating a homepage from the RSS feeds of the individual 
blogs. Should be simple enough, and it sounds like the perfect nail to 
hit with the SimpleXML hammer of PHP 5 :) Funnily enough, in work last 
week we were wondering whether you could use SimpleXML with XML 
namespaces (alas, we still use PHP 4 at work atm), so armed with the 
perfect excuse, I set to work..."

PHP/Ajax Integration
By Douglas Clifton.
Douglas Clifton talks about his experience and the information he 
gleaned from a meeting of the DC area users group concerning PHP and 
Ajax integration.


It's in the Details: Seven Secrets of a Successful International Website
By Huiping Iler.
"...Huiping Iler advises us to keep in mind seven factors for designing 
international Web sites. Her list includes factors beyond language 
translations, like differences in shopping habits, color usage, 
interpretation of symbols and (on the design-side) 'text swell' in 
character rendering. Consideration for the cultures of your Web site 
users can help you gain new users while you also show them your 
credibility and respect."

Web Design: 15 Important Research Findings You Should Know
By Jens Meiert.
"Small selection of web design, usability, and accessibility related 
results of research, most of them derived from Human Factors 
International (newsletter). Fortunately, some of them are relatively 
popular, while others will surely enrich your professional 

Beyond Validation
By Joe Dolson.
"For any qualified web developer, code validation is a step. Usually a 
step which is repeated frequently through the development process - and 
an important step, certainly, but just one small step in the process to 
create a standards-based, accessible web design. Validation, by itself, 
should never be considered as a primary signifier concerning the 
quality or accessibility of a website: not all validations are equal, 
after all. There are a number of important questions to be asked when 
looking at validation reports - and then there are the vast steps to be 
taken beyond the validation process. A passed validation demonstrates 
care and carefulness in the construction of a website - but that 
validation must be looked at carefully, and you need to also remember 
that a failed validation does not necessarily indicate the opposite..."

+12: TOOLS.

By James B. Bowlin.
"Linklint is an  Open Source Perl program that checks links on web 

Link Validation Spider
By Dead-links.
"Put your website or weblog home page URL in the input box and a little 
spider will read the html code and check for the broken links. The 
spider splits links in two categories, internal, from the same host, 
and external, outgoing link to different domains. Once you have put 
your start URL the bot will visit your website and follow all links 
checking for their status. When finish you will see a report showing 
all the bad links found, not only 404 status."


Writing Link and Heading Text
By Sarah Horton.
"...In this article, we focus on using clarity and key word positioning 
to facilitate skimming so that users aren't forced to slow their pace. 
Because we all know what happens when you slow down while surfing, 
right? You fall in..."

Taking Time to Tour
By Jared M. Spool.
"The practice of designing web applications is so new to us that a 
formalized method for studying these works is nonexistent. In order to 
educate ourselves, we must take tours of various web apps to find out 
what does and does not work. Jared Spool explores why we should take 
the time to tour web applications, what web applications we should 
tour, what we should be looking for, and what we can do with the 
information we gather."

The Power of Defaults
By Jeff Atwood.
"...Defaults are arguably the most important design decisions you'll 
ever make as a software developer. Choose good defaults, and users will 
sing the praises of your software and how easy it is to use. Choose 
poor defaults, and you'll face down user angst over configuration, and 
probably a host of tech support calls as well..."

10 Best Intranets of 2007
By Jakob Nielsen.
"This year's winners emphasized an editorial approach to news on the 
homepage. They also took a pragmatic approach to many hyped 'Web 2.0' 
techniques. While page design is getting more standardized, there's no 
agreement on CMS or technology platforms for good intranet design."

+14: XML.

"The Nexus for Intelligent Web Apps.

Thesis Defense on XForms
By Henri Sivonen.
"...I went to listen to the thesis defense of Mikko Honkala. The title 
of his doctoral thesis is Web user interaction - a declarative approach 
based on XForms. The opponents were Jean Vanderdonckt and Dave Raggett. 
The custos was Petri Vuorimaa. Here are some notes that I scribbled 
down. I got the heads up about the thesis defense 40 minutes before 
showtime, so I haven't read the thesis, yet..."

[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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