[webdev] Web Design Update: November 16, 2007

Laura Carlson lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Fri Nov 16 02:06:14 CST 2007

- Volume 6, Issue 21, November 16, 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.
09: PHP.

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

[Contents ends.]

++ SECTION ONE: New references.


The Accessibility Cookbook: a Recipe for Disaster
By Aaron Cannon.
"...It has been my experience that many people who learn about 
accessibility are led down a similar path as would-be bread bakers. 
They are handed a recipe and told, 'This is what you are to do, and if 
you don't do this exactly, those crazy disability advocates will come 
after you with their blood-thirsty lawyers.' They are told things like, 
'mark headings up as such,' and 'put skip-to-content links at the top 
of pages.' What all too often is not mentioned is why. The reader is 
not told, for example, that most screen readers have a hotkey which, 
when pressed, will present the user with a list of all of the headings 
on the page, and that this is often used to 'skim', just as a sighted 
user might look down the page to see what was typographically 
emphasized. No mention is made of the fact that persons who must use 
the keyboard as a result of limited mobility, find skip links a huge 
time saver, because they don't have to tab through all those links that 
one usually finds in abundance at the top of most pages..."

Alt Text and Linked Images
By Jared Smith.
"Alternative text for images is rule number one of web accessibility. 
While the lack of appropriate alternative text is perhaps the biggest 
barrier to accessibility for screen reader users, I have noticed a 
tremendous increase in the use of alternative text and thus, general 
web accessibility, in recent years. However, I am now noticing a very 
alarming trend of missing or inappropriate alternative text for images 
within links..."


The Great Specificity Swindle!
By Andrew Tetlaw.
"...Among the pages of arcane CSS lore you'll find something called the 
CSS cascade; the thing that ultimately decides what each element's 
style will eventually be. It has a reputation for being difficult to 
understand and is often the cause of those frustrating, obscure CSS 
problems when what happens in the browser is nothing like what you were 
expecting to happen. The amount of misinformation on the web certainly 
doesn't help, so this is my small effort to correct the situation: 
putting to rest two of the biggest myths about the CSS Cascade..."

Tips For Creating Great Web Forms
By Chris Coyier.
"You don't need labels for your form to work, but as one CSS-Tricks 
reader once put it, it is an accessibility crime not to use them. 
Labels are what signify what the input box is for and associate them 
together. The use of the <label> tag is not only semantically correct, 
but it gives you the opportunity to style them uniquely with CSS..."

CSS Tutorial
By Denny Lancaster.
"It just happened gradually when more and more browsers supported it 
and more people became interested in CSS and content semantics. It's 
not like some day everyone just used CSS. How does CSS really help (a 
host of questions like: cost versus benefit; learning curve, changes to 
your lovely web pages and so forth?) So when did we first hear about 
CSS? What on earth is content semantics?..."

+03: COLOR.

Find Color Synonyms with the HP Color Thesaurus
By colourlovers.
"HP has been doing some very cool things around color lately. One thing 
I recently stumbled onto is their Color Thesaurus. You enter in a color 
name and it gives you 4 similar named colors and 4 opposite colors. I 
used the tool to create the basic color wheel info below, but dive in 
and find out what colors are similar to Rose, Grass, Aqua, Ivory, 

Building a Data-Backed Persona
By Andrea Wiggins.
"Incorporating the voice of the user into user experience design by 
using personas in the design process is no longer the latest and 
greatest new practice. Everyone is doing it these days, and with good 
reason. Using personas in the design process helps focus the design 
team's attention and efforts on the needs and challenges of realistic 
users, which in turn helps the team develop a more usable finished 
design. While completely imaginary personas will do, it seems only 
logical that personas based upon real user data will do better. Web 
analytics can provide a helpful starting point to generate data-backed 
personas; this article presents an informal 5-step process for building 
a 'persona of the people'..."

Crappy Personas vs. Robust Personas
By Jared Spool.
"...In our research, teams that utilize robust personas find they 
create better designs, especially for things they wouldn't normally use 

Personas Suck
By Andy Budd.
"...if you're building a site for a group of web designers, you 
probably don't need personas, whereas if you're building a site for a 
group of doctors, they could come in handy..."

Website Evaluation Rubric
By Denny Lancaster.
"...Today in academia we refer to a rubric as a scoring tool..."

+05: EVENTS.

December 12, 2007.
Sydney, Australia

Techshare India 2008
February 4-5, 2008.
New Delhi, India.

NASA Project Management Challenge
February 26-27, 2008.
Daytona Beach, Florida, U.S.A.

An Event Apart
Dates and location announcement:
April 24-25, 2008 in New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.A.
June 23-24, 2008 in Boston, Massachusetts,  U.S.A.
August 18-19, 2008 in San Francisco, California, U.S.A.
October 13-14, 2008 in  Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.

@media 2008
Dates and location announcement:
May 22-23, 2008 in San Francisco, California, U.S.A.
May 29-30, 2008 in London, United Kingdom.

Agile 2008
August 4-8, 2008.
Toronto, Canada.

Project Management Institution Global Congress 2008
October 18-21, 2008.
Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.


Information Design = Complexity + Interdisciplinary + Experiment
By Gerlinde Schuller.
"Through which filter do information designer view the world? Schuller 
provides an overview of what Information Design is and could be."


The Seven Rules of Unobtrusive JavaScript
By Christian Heilmann.
"I've found the following rules over the years developing, teaching and 
implementing JavaScript in an unobtrusive manner. They have 
specifically been the outline of a workshop on unobtrusive JavaScript 
for the Paris Web conference 2007 in Paris, France. I hope that they 
help you understand a bit why it is a good idea to plan and execute 
your JavaScript in this way. It has helped me deliver products faster, 
with much higher quality and a lot easier maintenance."

JavaScript Method Overloading
By John Resig.
A clever trick for overloading JavaScript methods based on the number 
of arguments, using the little-known .length property of a JavaScript 
function object.

JavaScript Madness: Keyboard Events
By Jan Wolter.
"This document summarizes the results of some browser tests done while 
attempting to implement key stroke handling code in JavaScript. It 
documents inconsistencies in the way different browsers implement 
keyboard events..."

Introducing AxsJAX -- Access-Enabling AJAX
By Charles L. Chen and T.V. Raman.
"As the developer behind Fire Vox I've always wanted to make AJAX web 
applications truly usable for the blind and visually impaired. The 
challenge is that these users have to deal with a much higher learning 
curve than sighted users. Instead of simply learning the controls for a 
web application, they have to also learn how to get their assistive 
technology of choice to go to the interesting parts of that application 
to find out what is currently there..."

Stop Using Poor Performance CSS Expressions - Use JavaScript Instead
By Robert Nyman.
"...One time or another, we get handled a case where there's no way to 
accomplish a certain layout optimally for Internet Explorer 6 without 
JavaScript. And you know what? That's just fine... But first, make sure 
it degrades properly without JavaScript. Second, implement it with 
JavaScript code instead of CSS expressions, for best performance and 

Email Spambot Buster
By Dennis Lembree.
"Dennis Lembree has published an article describing an accessible 
method of coding email addresses on web pages which blocks spammers, 
the Email Spambot Buster. Sample code is provided. The technique 
implements progressive enhancement and unobtrusive JavaScript. 
JavaScript-enabled browsers display a 'normal' email link and other 
browsers display the email using 'email munging'."

More Loops and Events
By James Payne.
"In our last tutorial we covered functions and a portion of loops 
leaving off at the While loop. In this tutorial we will continue with 
the Do While Loop and hopefully work our way through to a taste of 
JavaScript Events...."


An Interview With John Allsopp
By Joost de Valk.
"Hi John, thanks for agreeing to this interview! Could you introduce 
yourself a bit to our readers?..."

Conversation with CSS 3 Team: Bert Bos
By Vlad Alexander.
"...CSS 3 is arguably the most eagerly anticipated specification in the 
works at W3C. CSS 3 promises to make it easier to create page layout 
and to support formatting that is currently only achievable through 
hacks. In this article, Vlad Alexander from xhtml.com interviews Bert 
Bos, chair of the CSS Working Group at W3C, about the next release of 
the CSS specification and how past design decisions are influencing the 
future of CSS. This interview offers a rare opportunity to learn more 
about the inner workings and thought processes of the CSS Working Group 
at W3C..."

Cameron Adams and Andy Clarke on CSS, the W3C, and Design
By Kevin Yank.
"At Web Directions South 2007 in Sydney, I caught up with SitePoint 
author Cameron Adams (themaninblue.com) and renowned designer Andy 
Clarke (stuffandnonsense.co.uk), both of whom spoke at the conference. 
You can listen to this interview instead if you like."

Great Design Requires Good Listening: Six Keys To Become An Empathic 
By Joshua Porter.
"You can tell a great designer from her ability to tune in, identify 
and deeply understand the needs and expectations of her design client. 
The greater this ability, the greater, in my experience, the likelihood 
of design success."

+09: PHP.

The Practicality of OO PHP
By David Day.
"PHP is an easy language for doing practical things immediately. The 
easiest ways to begin aren't always the best ways to stay productive, 
though. PHP's support for object orientation requires a little more 
learning and a little more discipline, but it has many benefits for 
larger projects."

PHP Techniques I Use All the Time
By Christian Montoya.
"y, I was writing CSS every day and I decided to share some of the CSS 
techniques that I always use. Lately I've been writing more PHP than 
anything else and I've found myself using some very useful techniques 
all the time..."


Web Standards' Three Buckets of Pain
By Kevin Lawver.
I spent this week at the W3C's annual technical plenary, which is a 
week of 'discussing' the future of the foundations and future of the 
web. I spent the first part of the week in the CSS Working Group 
discussing CSS3 features and CSS2.1 issues. Tuesday evening and 
Wednesday were spent in the AC meeting and Technical Plenary day 
(everyone gets together in a big room for panel discussions and 
lightning talks about standards-related issues - my favorite day of the 
week). The latter part of the week I spent in the new HTML Working 
Group talking about a lot of issues I'm not up to speed on because I 
just joined the working group (but, of course, that didn't stop me from 
jumping in).


More Width
By David Emery.
"The reason for the debate then? Laziness. Plain and simple. I'm guilty 
of it (you can find a fair few fixed width sites in my portfolio), make 
no mistake. It's that simple ? if making a fluid width site was as easy 
as making a fixed width site, I'm sure 99% would be fluid width."

Jakob Nielson Sees Parallels Between Ethical SEO and Usability
By bigmouthmedia.
"Jakob Nielson believes there are many similarities between ethical 
search engine optimization techniques and usability best practice. In 
his keynote speech delivered at the User Experience 2007 conference in 
Barcelona on November 7th, Mr Nielson stated that the two design 
attributes of websites were "not identical, but closely aligned" and 
have triggered the advancement of the next wave of search engine 
trends. Nielsen went on to clarify that there many parallels between 
the two areas of study including 'information architecture' and 
'writing for the web' in particular. He stressed that 'it's better to 
be more accurate in the way we describe content'."

Long vs. Short Articles as Content Strategy
By Jakob Nielsen.
"Information foraging shows how to calculate your content strategy's 
costs and benefits. A mixed diet that combines brief overviews and 
comprehensive coverage is often best."

Better Web Forms: Redesigning eBay's Registration
By Garrett Dimon.
"There isn't much that all-round web expert, Garrett Dimon, doesn't 
know about the unique challenges of designing and developing for the 
web. This week he turns his attention to the ubiquitous web form, and 
demonstrates the do's and don'ts of effective form design."

[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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