[webdev] Web Design Update: July 1, 2007

Laura Carlson lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Sun Jul 1 05:11:24 CDT 2007

- Volume 6, Issue 01, July 1, 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:

03: COLOR.
11: PHP.
13: TOOLS.

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

[Contents ends.]

++ SECTION ONE: New references.


Section 508 Wiki
By Telecommunications and Electronic and Information Technology 
Advisory Committee.
"TEITAC, organized July 6, 2006 by the U.S. Access Board is tasked with 
providing recommendations for updates of accessibility standards issued 
under section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and guidelines under 
section 255 of the Telecommunications Act. Committee members represents 
over forty industry, disability groups, standard-setting bodies in the 
U.S. and abroad, and government agencies, among others. More 
information about TEITAC is available at the Access Board web site. 
This WIKI provides a mechanism for collaboration, discussion, and 
development of guidelines, standards, and other supporting 
documentation that may be used in the development of the committees 

A Day in the Life of an Audio Describer
By Paul Crichton.
"...I caught up with Martin Davies, a Senior Producer at Red Bee Media 
to get an insight into writing audio description. Martin has been 
involved with audio description from the very earliest days, when it 
was first tested out in the UK with a handful of special boxes. Red Bee 
Media provide access services in digital media, and work with the BBC, 
Channel 4 and ITV to name a few..."

Everyone Deserves Access to Technology, Online World
By Jim Fruchterman and Gregg Vanderheiden.
"As technology races ahead at an ever-increasing pace, more and more of 
society's activities are moving into an online digital world that 
requires unfettered access. Although many of us may feel like we're 
falling behind technologically, large groups of Californians face 
barriers that block their access to the online world. People with 
disabilities, seniors, the poor and those without strong reading skills 
are facing ever-increasing obstacles to technology use. Since 
technology is becoming essential to education, business, personal 
finance, politics, entertainment and shopping, if we don't do 
something, we may find someone we love, or even ourselves, left 

When Accessibility is Not Your Problem
By Joe Clark.
"These notes are derived from presentations at @media 2007, in San 
Francisco on 2007.05.25 and in London on 2007.06.07."

Quick Accessibility Testing
By Emil Stenstrom.
"A recent project of mine required me to do a quick review of the 
accessibility level of a site. Nothing serious, just to show what was 
possible to test and where the site scored right now. I managed to 
assemble a small list of tools that I believe did a rather good job. 
This article is a list of those tools, and some tips on how to use 
them. First off, to do a real accessibility test, you need real people, 
with real tasks to accomplish. These are not tools to replace people. 
Instead, they can give you a quick rundown on where you stand, and find 
things you've missed. I like to compare it with HTML validation: 
Validation is a great way to find your errors, but just because you 
validate does not mean you have good code..."

Testability Costs Too Much
By Gian Sampson-Wild.
"Testability: friend or foe? Gian Sampson-Wild takes a close look at 
one of the features of the new Web Content Accessibility Guidelines."

WCAG 2.0 And Testability
By Mel Pedley.
"...It's simply not possible to categorize people, their behaviors or 
their perceptions into 0's and 1's. I think that web accessibility will 
always involve personal judgement calls on the part of developers. It 
won't be effective if it doesn't. And my programming friend is on a 
hiding to nothing if he really expects it to ever boil down to simple 
'yes' or 'no' compliancy answers. Testability can be a guiding 
principle and something to aim for. However, since we cannot exclude 
the human element from web accessibility, it seems to me that we can 
never expect to apply testability in the same way that we would to, 
say, an program algorithm. Testability can still be a good tool at 
times. But it cannot be allowed to govern decisions with regard to 
accessible web design criteria. A good craftsman uses the tool. The 
tool must never dictate to the craftsman."

Testability in WCAG 2.0
By Jared Smith.
"...So we have a dilemma regarding testability. If WCAG 2.0 sticks to 
its testability mandate and keep its slightly limited and complex 
success criteria, it risks alienating itself due to an inability for 
developers to prove testability at the 80% level. Alternatively, it can 
allow non-testable, pseudo-testable, and more far-reaching 
recommendations to be included and then risk criticism and lack of 
adoption because it is not testable. Lack of testability was, after 
all, one of the primary complaints regarding WCAG 1.0. Throwing out all 
testability would be a grave mistake. However, the working group would 
be greatly benefited by taking another look at the 80% agreement level 
for proving testability and also revisiting their mandate that all WCAG 
2.0 success criteria be testable. "

WCAG 2.0 - Polishing the Rough Edges
By Jared Smith.
"..The current draft of WCAG 2.0 is good. It's certainly better than 
the previous draft. It's not perfect, but overall, I'm rather 
impressed. I believe that by polishing a few rough edges, that it will 
be a very solid set of guidelines that will remain relevant for some 
time. Now, let's talk about those rough edges a bit..."

E-Shop Accessibility: From Theory to Reality
By Roberto Scano.
"WCAG 1.0 was brought into existence in the last century, when there 
were few web applications and no CMS-managed web sites. Actually, the 
web has evolved considerably, and we have moved to the next generation 
of web applications (Web 2.0). This article will explain how it is 
possible to apply WCAG 1.0 (and also how to comply with the future WCAG 
2.0  and ISO 9241-151 ) to create an accessible e-shop shopping-cart 
and back end management system, analyzing the problems and the proposed 


The IE Fieldset Background Color Bleed Bug
By Zoe Gillenwater.
"...In this tutorial, we'll focus on one of the most common fieldset 
and legend styling frustrations: the fieldset background color bleed 
bug in Internet Explorer, where the background color of the fieldset 
extends outside the top border of the fieldset. This bug occurs any and 
every time you try to give a fieldset a background color, and it 
affects even the latest version of IE, 7. This tutorial will show you 
how to fix the bug using a couple additional CSS rules and no changes 
to markup or hacks..."

Styling Headers, Navigation Bars and More with Image Backgrounds and CSS
By Alejandro Gervasio.
"Tiling background images with CSS is a simple technique that can make 
your web pages look much more attractive to your web site's visitors..."

Graceful Degradation
By Peter Gasston.
"...With CSS 3 so tantalizingly close (and yet so far away!), it's fun 
to play around with some of the new cosmetic features. In fact, we can 
even start to implement them on websites - as long as provision is made 
for users with older browsers..."

+03: COLOR.

Shifting Back
By Dave Shea.
"Colour profiles in imaging applications are a sticky issue at best. 
The path of least resistance when producing web graphics is turning 
them off entirely and ignoring the whole mess, which is pretty much 
what I've been doing for years..."

The Color Stylesheet
By Natalie Jost
"Here's a technique I use whenever possible. This may not be new to a 
lot of you who've been around the CSS world for awhile, but it's handy. 
It really works best with a minimal color scheme..."

Color Inspiration from the Masters of Painting
By COLOURlovers.
"The world has seen thousands of artists and millions of great pieces 
of art, but we chose just a handful of pieces of art from some of 
greatest masters of painting to show a little of how they were inspired 
by color? or perhaps, how they inspire us with color."


Adding Text To Your Web Pages in Dreamweaver CS3
By Tom Negrino, Dori Smith.
"The main message of most Web sites is conveyed by the site's text, and 
a major part of your job in working with any site will be adding, 
modifying, and styling that text. Dreamweaver gives you the tools you 
need to effectively put text on your pages and get your message across. 
In this chapter, you'll learn how to get text onto your page and apply 
structure using headings and lists. You'll also learn how to use basic 
HTML text styles to change the look of your text."

Dreamweaver Property Inspector Cautions
By Virginia DeBolt.
"I like Adobe Dreamweaver. I've been using it for over 10 years, since 
sometime back in the 90s when I first started learning web design. It's 
fast, clean, and flexible. But I'm always hearing tales about how it 
adds 'bloat' and 'bad code' to your code. I suspect that people making 
this complaint are misusing the lowly Property inspector."


Start User Research by Talking With Staff
By Patrick Kennedy.
"We all know we should involve users when redesigning a website, but 
where do you start? Talking with staff in your own organization allows 
you to leverage their vast body of knowledge on your website 

Should Designers and Developers Do Usability?
By Jakob Nielsen.
"Having a specialized usability person is best, but smaller design 
teams can still benefit when designers do their own user testing and 
other usability work."

Squiggles Help Find Personas
By Patrick Kennedy.
"First, an idea to help illustrate the concept of taking explicit user 
research and shaping this into discrete personas. Most people I have 
mentored find that the most difficult step is going from research into 
producing the draft personas. My idea is to use Venn diagrams to show 
how you take the information you find out about each individual you 
research (through interviews, focus groups, contextual enquiry, 
customer data etc) and come up with an archetypal description of them 
all. Remember, the key is for the resulting persona to have attributes 
that are a common subset of the attributes possessed by all the users 
it represents, whilst still being accurate for each of them. So in 
effect you need to 'knock the corners' off the data and look at the 
overlap, to make something that fits all users in the group."

+06: EVENTS.

Molly E. Holzschlag's Train the Trainer Program
"...Every other weekend I'm in the U.S. from this September 'til next 
and I will offer a FREE two day course to six (6) educators each 
available weekend, with dates to be announced following my schedule. 
Here's the deal: You demonstrate to me that you will take your 
knowledge forward to other educators, students, trainers and 
evangelists who can and will talk to their students and/or companies 
about standards.This is a MUST. I only will train people for FREE who 
can prove they are in education, technology training, or work with a 
company where they can provide in-depth training for their teams..."

Second Real World Accessibility Workshop
August 8, 2007.
London, United Kingdom.

User Experience Week 2007
August 13-16, 2007.
Washington D.C., U.S.A.

HCI 2007...not as we know it
September 3-7, 2007.
Lancaster, United Kingdom.

Webmaster Jam Session
September 21-22, 2007.
Dallas, Texas, U.S.A.


Human-to-Human Design
By Sharon Lee.
"Help your audience fall in love with you by moving beyond 
human-to-computer interfaces and embracing human-to-human design."


Simply JavaScript: The Three Layers of the Web
By Kevin Yank.
"HTML and CSS alone can only achieve the static beauty of the 
department store mannequin. Here, Kevin shows you how, with JavaScript, 
you can combine the three layers of the Web to bring that awkward 
puppet to life."

The Impact of Ajax on User Experience - Part 1
By Cindy Lu.
"...This article provides a brief overview of Ajax, the impact of 
Ajax-based web applications on user experience and recommends some 
strategies for being part of the technology wave..."

Making JavaScript Applications Degrade Gracefully
By Alejandro Gervasio.
"JavaScript is widely used for applications throughout the web. That's 
fine, but what happens when someone who has disabled JavaScript on 
their browser tries to use one of those applications? Nothing -- 
literally nothing. Fortunately, there is a way to make JavaScript 
degrade gracefully and improve your visitors' experiences. Keep reading 
to find out more. This article is the first in a series..."


Three Minutes With Leading Web Designer Steve Krug
By Juan Carlos Perez.
"Web site usability expert and consultant Steve Krug tells all about 
the best practices and major mistakes in Web design."

Five Pertinent Questions for Andy Budd
By Matthew Pennell.
"Digital Web's own Matthew Pennell stole a moment of Andy Budd's time 
to bring you Five Pertinent Questions for Andy Budd. Andy and Matthew 
talk about agency work and conference organization in the lead up to 
the respected d.Construct conference."

Web Accessibility Guidelines - an Interview with Gian Sampson-Wild
By UXpod - User Experience Podcast.
"What is the current status of Version 2 of the Web Content 
Accessibility Guidelines? Gian Sampson-Wild tells us the story. She 
also explains how Flickr and Google have used Ajax without sacrificing 

Derek Featherstone Podcast (Straight From the Horse's Mouth Series)
By Christina Wodtk.
"Christina talks with web accessibility expert Derek Featherstone about 
the emergence of accessibility as a way towards better structure and 
more usefulness."


About  Click Here and Other Link Text
By Jim Thatcher.
"This is an essay about the accessibility of link text and how that is 
handled in the guidelines. Since those guidelines are changing, I think 
it is a good time to look at this issue. Everybody knows that you 
should not use 'click here' for link text - or do they? The (main) 
reason this comes up is that screen reader users sometimes navigate 
through a page with the tab key, moving from link to link. When you do 
that and hear "link click here" it is annoying at best and you have no 
idea where the link takes you. In the same way, a blind user can 
request a links list, and the appearance of 'click here' in that list 
is not useful..."

Making the Most of Links
By Craig Grannell.
"Utilize CSS to make your website links look much more appealing, while 
simultaneously enhancing the usability of your site..."

SEO Friendly Permanent Redirects
By John S. Britsios.
"This tutorial describes how to properly redirect a web page using an 
HTTP 301 status code and Location header. The 301 status code is used 
to indicate that a page has permanently moved."

Navigational State of Confusion
By Andy Rutledge.
"People like to know where they are in the world. This is true of 
people hiking on trails in the woods and it's true of people navigating 
websites and online applications. But not everyone who makes websites 
understands this, it seems.... As designers, we're beholden to the 
relevant context(s) of users' experience. Part of that context is 
brought by the user, part of it is inherent in the environment, part is 
tied to the activity at hand, and part of the context is created by our 
own efforts in the design. As context defines factors relevant to the 
experience, we cannot ignore context as the other article's author has 
done. The issue of navigational state declaration is contextual, not 

+11: PHP.

Unary, Binary, and Ternary Operators in PHP
By Michael Berman.
"An operator is a special character or combination of characters that 
operates on variables. There are 3 types of operators in PHP: unary, 
binary and ternary. They can be used to manipulate a variable with up 
to 3 arguments at a time. This article wasn't written to discuss the 
meaning and usage of each operator in PHP, but rather to explain the 
differences between these types of operators and to give examples about 
how each functions..."

Working with the Tidy Library in PHP 5
By Alejandro Gervasio.
"Now that you know that the Tidy (X)HTML formatting/correcting 
application can be called directly from your own PHP 5 scripts, over 
the course of this series, which is comprised of three friendly 
tutorials, I'm going to walk you through using the bunch of useful 
functions included with this library."

How To Create Alternating Row Colors in PHP
By Michael Berman.
"Almost every database driven Web site uses alternating row colors when 
displaying a list of records, a concept used all over the Internet. In 
this article you'll learn about the process and how to implement it..."

Database Techniques and PHP
By Kevin Tatroe, Rasmus Lerdorf, and Peter MacIntyre.
"Picking up where we left off last week in our discussion of databases 
and PHP, we'll talk about connecting, issuing a query, and more..."

Cross-Platform Database PHP Development
By Daniel Williams.
"PHP developers often encounter instances when their PHP scripts must 
adhere to a variety of different platforms. Often this includes 
database interactivity. While many PHP developers write code to 
interact with MySQL, larger enterprises do not deploy MySQL. To 
accommodate a larger base of users, a developer might want to adopt the 
practice of cross-platform development..."


Web Standards, the Three-Legged Race
By Porter Glendinning.
"...Our industry is engaged in a prolonged three-legged race. On the 
one side you've got the folks building the user agents and on the other 
the content and application developers. Where the two come together - 
the composite third leg as it were - is in standards bodies like the 
W3C. Just as in a real three-legged race if we spend our time fighting 
against each other neither one of us will get anywhere. We either win 
together or lose together. The more important parallel in this analogy, 
however, is that we also will not win the race if both sides lurch and 
pause in uncoordinated fits and starts. In order for us to move as 
quickly as possible we need steady, even forward progress from both 

Whither W3C?
By Andy Budd.
"...Rather than being critical about people posting their thoughts to 
their blogs, if the CSS working group really want to elicit feedback 
they should embrace the developer community. Do what the WHATWG does 
and set up watch lists for common terms like CSS3 or CSS2.2, post 
regularly to their blog and set up an official wiki. If the CSS working 
group really want feedback, they need to start by offering more 
transparency and make it easier for people to contribute."

They Aren't HTML5 Docs in the First Place
By Sean Fraser.
"...I thought about what constitutes failure and acceptance between 
HTML 4.01, XHTML 1.0 and HTML5. It's content. I did some simple test 

Data Integration and Transparency
By Tim Berners-Lee.
Slides from this talk are available online. Conclusion: "Next steps 
should all be Semantic Web standards compatible. Don't upset existing 
systems. Don't make new ontologies unless you have to. Government 
agencies should be transparent and accountable. We have the technology. 
Plan for unexpected re-use."

HTML5 and XHTML 1.1+ MUST Stop for Now
By Molly E. Holzschlag.
"Discussions about HTML5 should stop. Discussions about XHTML 1.1+ 
should stop. Full stop."

So How Do We Fix the Web, Really?
By Molly E. Holzschlag.
"...One thing is absolutely key and that is there is no way we are 
going to empower each other and create the Web in the great vision it 
was intended to be if we do not address the critical issue of 
education. And stability. And these things take time. It requires far 
better orchestration than I personally have been able to figure out, 
and while the W3C, WHAT WG, WaSP and other groups have made numerous 
attempts to address some of these concerns, we have failed. We haven't 
done a good job so far to create learning tools and truly assist the 
working web designer and developer become informed and better at what 
he or she can do. We haven't done a good job sitting down at the table 
together and coming up with baseline strategies for user agents and 

Marathon 2.0
By Shelley Powers.
"...The web is like a marathon. The specifications define the rules, 
and the implementations define the course. It is up to the individuals 
to determine how fast they want to run the course. Molly says, because 
a developer in Evansville, Illinois or Budapest, Hungary is still using 
HTML tables for layout that the web is 'broken'. I think what she's 
really saying, though, is that the web works too well. There is a 
bewildering wealth of technology we can pick and choose from, and it 
can be both intimidating and exhausting trying to stay aware of all of 
it, much less stay proficient in any of it. It also seems like we're 
surrounded by people who know it all. They don't, though. No one knows 
it all..."

WCAG, HTML, and CSS: Maybe the Standards Need a Break
By Jens Meiert.
"Molly Holzschlag recently posted an article about stopping the 
development on HTML 5 and XHTML 2.0 until implementations are 
consistent for HTML 4.01 and others. It is surprising because one of 
the main goals of HTML 5 is exactly this, a 'CALL for consistent 
implementation of these most basic specifications in all current 
browsers and devices to this point'.

Stop the Web We Want to Get Off
By Gary Barber.
"...The key is we have to move forward. stagnate and it dies. Stop and 
you get the silos of standards and in come the proprietary tags. Or 
someone else will come from behind you and change it all and implement 
it in a way that could make it worse (look at the mobile web). So what 
do you think do we freeze or set it free? Is Molly right?"

WHATWG to Start Work on "Bible5"
By Michael Penman (forwarded to www-html)
"LOL!...'After their successful work on HTML5, CSS5, XML5, SVG5, and 
Web5, the WHATWG has announced that it has started work on a new 
version of the Bible, to be called Bible5'.

Fixing the Web...Together!
By Karl Dubost.
"Molly Holzschlag recently posted an article about stopping the 
development on HTML 5 and XHTML 2.0 until implementations are 
consistent for HTML 4.01 and others. It is surprising because one of 
the main goals of HTML 5 is exactly this, a 'CALL for consistent 
implementation of these most basic specifications in all current 
browsers and devices to this point'....Fixing bugs in browsers becomes 
a lot easier when the content is valid and correctly written. How do we 
fix all these authoring tools? these HTML scripting libraries in 
python, perl, .Net, etc? How do we fix authors who are writing bad HTML 
codes? How do we fix this 95% of the Web? HTML 5 is the start of an 
answer. It is not the ultimate answer, but it helps a lot to achieve 
what you are exactly calling for. Getting interoperability..."

Business Case for Web Standards Wiki
Created By Chris Heilmann.
"I thought it a good idea to set up a wiki to collect information on 
this topic as there are a lot of presentations written about it but all 
differ in approach and content and collating all these great ideas can 
help us form a solid approach to selling web standards to the 

+13: TOOLS.

Web Accessibility Toolbar [For IE], Version 2.0 Beta
By Steve Faulkner.
Version 2.0 is out.

(X)HTML5 Conformance Checking Service Technology Preview
By Henri Sivonen.
"...The validation service checks whether a given document meets the 
constraints of the chosen schema(s). Both XML syntax and compact syntax 
RELAX NG schemas are supported. There is 'experimental' support for 
standalone (not embedded) Schematron 1.5 schemas. There are also 
non-schema checkers that can be used like schemas..."


Incremental Leading
By Mark Boulton.
"There has been a lot said recently about Vertical Rhythm. Richard 
Rutter began the work on 24ways last year with the piece 'Compose to a 
Vertical Rhythm'. This was built upon by Wilson Minor on A List Apart 
recently with his article on Baseline Grids. All sound typographic 
advice. If you haven't read both of them, I'd urge you to do so now 
otherwise you know what I'm on about it in this post. At @media this 
year, I presented 'Five Simple Steps to Better Typography'. Step two in 
my presentation was  Vertical Rhythm where I reiterated some of the 
excellent points Richard made in his article and also the presentation 
we both gave in at SXSW in March. I also added something of my own: 
Incremental leading, or Incremental line-height."


Mental Workload for Paged and Scrolled Documents
By Peter Krantz.
"In a recent doctoral thesis from the department of psychology at 
Gothenburg University, Sweden, Erik Wästlund provides some interesting 
findings on mental workload for consumption of information. Two of the 
principal findings are: 1. Consumption of information is more efficient 
when information is presented on paper compared to presenting the 
information on a computer screen. 2. Consumption of information 
generates less mental workload when the page layout is adapted to fit 
the screen."

Dialog Boxes - Making Simple Things Simple...
By Leisa Reichelt.
"How much thought do you give to writing the text on dialog boxes when 
you're designing...?"

Audio and the User Experience
By Jonathan Follett.
"...There are good reasons for audio's limited role in UX: First and 
foremost, unwanted sound can be intrusive and annoying. Rather than 
enhancing a user experience, audio can be a distraction and reduce our 
effectiveness...Audio, when used judiciously, enhances the user 
experience through its engagement of another human sense and by 
providing a richer atmosphere for interaction. We shouldn't allow the 
abuses of audio in the past-which have resulted in the banishment of 
most audio from our daily online interactions-to prevent us from trying 
again to use audio more effectively. While incorporating audio cues and 
other sounds in UX projects may be foreign territory for most visually 
oriented UX professionals, it is territory well worth exploring."

Task Management, Not Content or Technology Management
By Gerry McGovern.
"Websites will achieve maximum value when they focus on the tasks
of their customers, not the technology or content."

[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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