[webdev] Web Design Update: September 13, 2007

Laura Carlson lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Thu Sep 13 14:52:27 CDT 2007

- Volume 6, Issue 12, September 13, 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:

08: PHP.

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

[Contents ends.]

++ SECTION ONE: New references.


Tips for Keeping Forms Accessible
By Mike Cherim.
"...This article's main objective will be to offer some tips for 
keeping your forms accessible, and in some cases, making them even more 
accessible than they are by default. So, here are the tips, in no 
particular order. Oh, and try not to mind my headings? I was feeling 

Can the alt Attribute Be Omitted Without Hurting Accessibility?
By Roger Johansson.
"In the current editor's draft of HTML 5, it is suggested that the alt 
attribute for img elements should no longer be required...Making the 
alt attribute optional won't help ? it will only lead to lazy and 
ignorant authors and tool vendors ignoring it completely."

The Price of Omitting the alt
By Mike Davies.
"There's an ongoing, loud and sometimes fraught, argument going on in 
the HTML 5 arena about whether to allow the alt attribute of an img to 
be omitted. The alt attribute is one of the main ways of specifying a 
short text-equivalent for an image, and one of two ways of directly 
relating an image to its equivalent textual representation. A textual 
equivalent to an image is absolutely essential so that the content 
conveyed by the image is accessible to human senses that cannot process 
images. Where we have content in a non-textual form, we need to provide 
an equivalent representation of that content in a textual form. On that 
point there is no argument. Why have the parties in the WHATWG decided 
that making the alt attribute optional is the way forward? What problem 
or issue does it solve?"

Metadata, Meta Tags, Meta What?
By Matthew Steven Smith.
"There would appear to be a certain amount of confusion about the terms 
"metadata" and "meta tags" - I know that it has confused me in the past 
so I am hoping that this article may make things a little more clear 
for those who are struggling with these meta-things."

Don't Make Users Take Responsibility For Our Problems
By James Edwards.
"But I still hate them because CAPTCHA tests are an accessibility black 
spot. What are you supposed to do if you have a reading or cognitive 
disability and simply can't make them out? Man, I have perfect 20-20 
vision, and more often than not I can't read the damn things; it's very 
common for me to have to make three or four different attempts before I 
get it right."

How Do Blind Users Access Graphical Information as Charts (Flowcharts, 
Organization chart)
WebAIM Thread.
"Does anyone can guide me. I am new in this mailing list and have few 
questions and hope to find some answers with you..."

Web Accessibility for Screen Magnifier Users
By Trenton Moss.
"The needs of screen magnifier users are overlooked when implementing 
web accessibility on to a website. Screen magnifiers are used by 
partially sighted web users to increase the size of on-screen elements. 
Some users will magnify the screen so that only three to four words are 
able to appear on the screen at any one time...The good news is that 
some of the basic principles for improving accessibility and usability 
for screen magnifiers users, also increase usability for everyone. To 
help, we've listed six ways to improve accessibility and usability for 
screen magnifier users...


Web Design 101: Floats
By Virginia DeBolt.
"Following on from our previous Web Design 101 articles, this week, 
web-design educator and writer Virginia DeBolt turns her attention to a 
subject guaranteed to trip up any beginner - the CSS float property."

Working with Multiple Style Sheets
By Alejandro Gervasio.
"As the Web evolves steadily, more and more sites are providing their 
visitors with different mechanisms for customizing their surfing 
experience. Nowadays, it's quite common to visit a web site that allows 
users to change background and foreground colors of specific sections 
of that site, alter the size of the font, or even modify the position 
of certain elements by implementing 'draggable' user interfaces..."

Borders and More with Style Sheets
By Danny Goodman.
"...This article, the third part of a series, covers borders, bottom 
edges, and more..."

Cascading Style Sheets Bible - Part 1
By Daniel LaFluer.
"10 General CSS Principals..."

Cascading Style Sheets Bible - Part 2
By Daniel LaFluer.
"Many Cascading Style Sheets properties need to have length 
measurements specified. So there are a lot of ways to use CSS to 
specify lengths..."


But What Does It All Mean? Understanding eye-tracking results - Part 4
By Teresa Hernandez.
"I believe I referred to 'scan paths' or 'fixation patterns' in earlier 
entries.  Understanding scan paths are critical to interpreting eye 
movement results."

But What Does It All Mean? Understanding eye-tracking results - Part 5
By Teresa Hernandez.
"In my previous post, I mentioned that heat maps do not have a time 
component. Several people have asked me to discuss this topic in a 
little more detail, so here we go..."

Making Personas Work for Your Web Site -- An Interview with Steve Mulder
By Jared M. Spool.
"Steve Mulder is Principal Consultant in the User Experience group at 
Molecular, an Internet consulting firm in Boston, and author of the 
book, The User Is Always Right: A Practical Guide to Creating and Using 
Personas for the Web. UIE's Jared M. Spool recently had the chance to 
talk with Steve after his UIE Virtual Seminar, The User is Always 
Right: Making Personas Work for Your Web Site, to answer some 
additional questions about personas."

Personas: Setting the Stage for Building Usable Information Sites
By Alison J. Head.
"Not long ago, I found myself at a newspaper with a Web team who wanted 
my usability services for a new entertainment site they were building. 
Our first meeting involved a spirited discussion about the site the 
team had long envisioned. As the talk of this feature, which 
functionality, and that content flew around the room, my stomach began 
to churn. Despite all the creative threads being spun, pulling together 
this site had the potential to be as awkward as needle pointing a 
three-piece suit. Something needed to be done very soon. Shortly 
thereafter, I introduced the Web team to Greg..."

+04: EVENTS.

@media Ajax
November 19-20, 2007.
London, United Kingdom.

HTML Beyond the Basics
November 28, 2007.
Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.A.

November 28-30, 2007.
Adelaide, Australia.

December 5-7, 2007.
Melbourne, Australia

HotMobile 2008
February 25-26, 2008.
Silverado Resort, California, U.S.A.

EDUCAUSE Midwest Regional Conference
March 17-19, 2008.
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.


Card Sorting: Mistakes Made and Lessons Learned
By Sam Ng.
"Card sorting is a simple and effective method with which most of us 
are familiar. There are already some excellent resources on how to run 
a card sort and why you should do card sorting. This article, on the 
other hand, is a frank discussion of the lessons I've learned from 
running numerous card sorts over the years. By sharing these lessons 
learned along the way, I hope to enable others to dodge similar 
potholes when they venture down the card sorting path."


Five Quick JavaScript Tips
By Andy Hume.
"...This is a list of five things I often notice when looking at these 
little applications that could be improved. They may be obvious to some 
people, but certainly not to all. So, without more ado: five quick 
JavaScript tips to improve the quality of your code..."


Feds OK Fee for Priority Web Traffic
By Yahoo News.
"The Justice Department on Thursday said Internet service providers 
should be allowed to charge a fee for priority Web traffic..."

13 Questions with Andy Budd
By FocusMinded.com.
"Andy Budd is a web designer, author, and speaker. People know him for 
his blog and most notably for his book CSS Mastery. He doesn't know 
this, but that happens to be the first book I ever purchased that had 
anything to do with CSS. I was not let down and you won't be either."

Get Out from Behind the Curtain
By Sarah B. Nelson.
"Client input: positive process or creative noose? Many designers would 
probably say the latter. But it needn't be that way. Adaptive Path's 
Sarah Nelson shows how to create collaborative work sessions that take 
the clients' needs in hand while leaving creative control in yours."

+08: PHP.

Class Inheritance with PHP
By Kris Hadlock.
"There are many benefits of inheritance with PHP, the most common is 
simplifying and reducing instances of redundant code. Class inheritance 
may sound complicated, but think of it this way. Consider a tree. A 
tree is made up of many parts, such as the roots that reside in the 
ground, the trunk, bark, branches, leaves, etc. Essentially inheritance 
is a connection between a child and its parent..."


Why We Need Standards Support in HTML email
By David Greiner.
"This is a post I've been meaning to write for a long time now. I've 
been delaying it purely because I wanted it to be perfect. I wanted to 
write with Zeldman-like virtue on why email, just like the web, needs 
to pay attention to web standards. Sadly, in the time between the idea 
for this post and actually getting it published, web standards support 
in email has gone seriously downhill. I can't delay it any longer..."

Help Improve Support for Web Standards in HTML email
By Roger Johansson.
"...ow can we make the situation improve? Probably not by arguing about 
how much better plain text is. What we need is to somehow make email 
client vendors improve support for Web Standards (most notably CSS) in 
their applications. There are different ways of doing that. One is to 
keep complaining, which probably won't work. Another way, which I think 
has at least some chance of actually working, is to help email client 

Working for Standards
By Lauren Wood.
"...In the end, technical committees need members who can talk to other 
people; who listen to a different point of view and can respectfully 
disagree; who can admit when someone has a better idea; and who can 
check their ego at the door. Most organizations I've worked with want 
the specifications to reflect the consensus of the participants. 
Getting to that consensus is hard work, but it is also satisfying. I've 
always been surprised that more women aren't involved in standards 
work; it's a great way to contribute to the community and to benefit 
your company, regardless of its size."

The Solution is a HTML 5 Apathetic Doctype
By Steven Clark.
"...For one, it seems slightly out of focus to be making alt attributes 
on images optional on the case study that Flickr can't possibly provide 
that - hey let's just dumb it down to the lowest common denominator! 
Then I started thinking - hey why not just dumb it down a few notches 
more because most pages out there are invalid crap anyway we can just 
let anything by. How? Well I am suggesting the HTML 5 Apathetic Doctype 
which particularly aims to give the tick of approval to anyone who 
cares enough to have a meeting to object to having to care about web 
standards. Yes its a free pass..."

iPhone-Specific Web Development Misguided
By Christopher Schmitt.
"...This is perceived overkill especially when you know the dirty 
little secret about optimizing a Web site for an iPhone: If a Web site 
is built on Web standards like XHTML+CSS, your Web site will be viewed 
on the iPhone without too much worry. The point is that I believe that 
there are more important issues at hand for making sure our Web sites 
can be seen by an Internet-enabled device other than a Web browser 
rather than forcing every other electronic doodad to have a Web browser 
on it. Don't get me wrong. I don't think you can over-sell the 
importance of Web standards, but reselling them is another thing 
altogether. If your Web site is geared to run on assistive technologies 
like screen readers, hand wands, eye tracking, voice recognition, or 
Braille displays, the odds are that you've opened your site up to more 
of an audience than the iPhone crowd. There's no reason we can't have 
both a great surfing experience on an iPhone as well as one on 
assistive technologies. I'm just asking for more balance."


Decline and Fall of the Ligature
By John Boardley.
"...A ligature is not simply two letters arbitrarily glued together. 
The two letters are crafted into a single letter (technically speaking 
a single glyph)..."


Primary and Secondary Actions in Web Forms
By Luke Wroblewski.
"In recent months, I've been working on refining the design 
recommendations in my upcoming book, Web Form Design Best Practices, 
through actual usage data. To that end, I've had the pleasure of 
working with London-based usability firm Etre on several eye-tracking 
and usability studies focused on specific aspects of Web form design. 
One of these tests focused on the distinction between primary and 
secondary actions."

[Section one ends.]


+12: 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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