[webdev] Web Design Update: November 30, 2007

Laura Carlson lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Fri Nov 30 06:28:28 CST 2007

- Volume 6, Issue 23, November 30, 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.
10: TOOLS.

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

[Contents ends.]

++ SECTION ONE: New references.


Fieldsets, Legends and Screen Readers
By Steve Faulkner.
"...Due to the nature of the advice in UAAG 1.0 and  its implementation 
in JAWS (legend text being announced before a control’s label text), 
developers should be mindful of the length of legend texts, as lengthy 
legend texts have been found to make forms difficult to use. Another 
potential pot hole is the JAWS behaviour when headings are included 
within a fieldset. In this case JAWS will typically use the heading 
text in place of the legend text, this is a quirk or bug, which can 
lead to unexpected and problematic consequences. This needs to be fixed 
in JAWS, but until it is, perhaps the use of headings within fieldsets 
should be minimised. The fieldset and legend elements are well 
supported by many user agents. While it is helpful to have knowledge of 
some of the quirks and failings of particular user agents, the poor 
support in software such as Window Eyes must not stop developers using 
these elements or accessibility practitioners recommending their use. 
Their use can make it easier for a wide range of disabled users to fill 
out forms. In order to improve accessibility for all disabled users, 
web standards must be adhered to so that developers can code for 
accessibility with confidence. It is the assistive technology vendor’s 
job in these cases to fix their implementations."

One Reason Why Section 508 Isn't Working
By Mike Paciello.
"An area of accessibility that I have been deeply involved in for the 
past 18 months is the TEITAC (Telecommunications and Electronic and 
Information Technology Advisory Committee). By the way, it's pronounced 
'Tie Tac' not 'Tea Tack'. TEITAC consists of 42 member organizations 
including government, industry, consumer and international (EU, Canada, 
Japan, and Australia) representatives. In short, the charter of this 
committee is to revise the US Federal Section 508   and Section 255 
laws.  Section 508 involves information technology and Section 255 
involves telecommunications. With technology convergence increasingly 
becoming the norm, is it any wonder why this committee was asked to 
revise both standards?at the same time???"

Manual for Apple VoiceOver in Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard
By Roger Johansson.
"Apple's screen reader, VoiceOver, comes bundled with Mac OS X (yes, 
it's free) and has received a number of updates in Mac OS X 10.5 
Leopard. The updates include a new voice, Braille support, and improved 
navigation and searching..."

Change the Way You See Disability
By Aardman Animations.
"Discover the world of Aardman's Creature Discomforts and change the 
way you see disability." (Hat tip to Gez Lemon)

Jeffrey Frey on Accessible Podcasts
By Dennis Lembree.
"Dennis speaks with Jeffrey Frey and discusses accessible podcasting, 
guidelines on audio/video web accessibility, and Jeff's role at Rice 

Icons, Symbols and Cognitive Disabilities
By Christopher Phillips.
"...Perhaps one day there will be an open system that will facilitate 
the collection and use of symbols in everyday tools. Until then, here 
are some other project/ideas that are exploring the use of symbols..."


CSS3 Media Queries Instead of the Media Attribute
By Emil Stenstrom.
"...Media queries are a way to check the capabilities of a user-agent 
instead of checking what kind of media type it claims to be. This makes 
a lot of sense to me..."

Introduction to Safari CSS Reference
By Apple.
Official documentation covering the CSS properties supported by Safari.

Future-Proof Your Web Site Design by Planning Your CSS In Advance
By Christian Watson.
"...Let's take a look at the more common page elements a future-proofed 
site should plan for..."


A Structured Process for Transforming Usability Data into Usability 
By Jonathan Howarth, Terence S. Andre, and Rex Hartson.
"Much research has been devoted to developing usability evaluation 
methods that are used in evaluating interaction designs. More recently, 
however, research has shifted away from evaluation methods and 
comparisons of evaluation methods to issues of how to use the raw 
usability data generated by these methods. Associated with this focus 
is the assumption that the transformation of the raw usability data 
into usability information is relatively straightforward. We would 
argue that this assumption is incorrect, especially for novice 
usability practitioners. In this article, we present a structured 
process for transforming raw usability data into usability information 
that is based on a new way of thinking about usability problem data. 
The results of a study of this structured process indicate that it 
helps improve the effectiveness of novice usability practitioners."

Clustering for Usability Participant Selection
By Juan E. Gilbert, Andrea Williams, and Cheryl D. Seals.
"User satisfaction and usefulness are measured using usability studies 
that involve real customers. Given the nature of software development 
and delivery, having to conduct usability studies can become a costly 
expense in the overall budget. A major part of this expense is the 
participant costs. Under this condition, it is desirable to reduce the 
number of participants without sacrificing the quality of the 
experiment. If a company could use a smaller participant pool and get 
the same results as the entire pool; this would result in significant 
savings. Given a participant pool of size N, is there a subset of N 
that would yield the same results as the entire population? This 
research addresses this question using a data-mining clustering tool 
called Applications Quest."


Intranet Information Architecture (IA)
By Jakob Nielsen.
"In analyzing 56 intranets, we found many common top-level categories,
labels, and navigation designs, but ultimately, the diversity was too
great to recommend a single IA."

Make Tools
By Victor Lombardi.
"In my keynote talk at the 2007 IA Konferenz in Stuttgart, Germany this 
month, I argued we need to create fewer artifacts and more tools. We're 
already doing this, but it's easy to get stuck in a 
make-more-web/mobile-sites rut and that could lead to irrelevance."


The Rules of Unobtrusive JavaScript
By Roger Johansson.
"One of the most important things to keep in mind when writing 
JavaScript for the Web is to make it unobtrusive, since You cannot rely 
on JavaScript being available. Sadly, there are many developers who do 
not seem to spend any energy at all on considering how to do that. 
Instead they choose to blindly forge ahead and assume that everybody 
who comes visiting will have full support for JavaScript and use a 

This Was @mediaAjax 2007
By Chris Heilmann.
His slides and thoughts on the conference.

@media Ajax 2007
By Peter-Paul Koch.
"This entry discusses the conference and gives links to my slides and 
example application."

@media Ajax 2007
By Stuart Langridge.
"Finally returned from @media Ajax 2007, and I had a great time. I was 
a presenter, talking about How To Destroy The Web, which I thoroughly 
enjoyed doing. My slides are here..."

@media Ajax - The Presentations
By Robert Nyman.
"As promised in my @media AJAX - Journeys and stories post (now updated 
with pictures!), this one will focus on the presentations during the 

Transcript of the Paris Web 2007 Workshop on Unobtrusive JavaScript
By Chris Heilmann.
"This is a step-by-step description accompanied by code examples of the 
'Unobtrusive JavaScript' workshop at Paris Web 2007 in Paris, France..."

High-Performance JavaScript
By Joseph Smarr.
A set of slides from a talk given by Joseph Smarr, Chief Platform 
Architect at Plaxo, at Oscon.

ECMAScript 3 Regular Expressions: A Specification That Doesn't Make 
By David Andersson (Liorean).
"So, what was that A quick JS quiz for anybody who think they know 
regex thing that I posted all about? It was about a flaw, a nonsensical 
behavior that the ECMAScript specification makes standard. Let me 
expand a bit on what ECMAScript 3 does wrong..."

JavaScript Events
By James Payne.
"In our last article we left off with a glimpse of JavaScript Events. 
In this tutorial we are going to go through each one and learn how to 
use them to create more dynamic web sites. So slap on your seat belts 
and get your helmets ready. This is gonna be an action-packed 

JavaScript Shortcut Notations that Shouldn't Be Black Magic to the 
'Average Developer'
Christian Heilmann.
"When publishing articles about JavaScript development you run into 
many rules set by publishers and editors. This is a great thing as it 
keeps us authors on our toes and makes us understand more about how 
much work successful publishing really is. However, it can also be 
terribly annoying, especially when older idioms just stick. One of them 
is that 'the average developer' does not quite understand JavaScript 
shortcut notations. Now, if you are 'the average developer', please 
give me 5 minutes of your time to get through the following, you'll 
understand a lot more code out there and also spend a lot less time 
writing your own scripts."


Giant Global Graph
By Tim Berners-Lee.
"...I'll be thinking in the graph. My flights. My friends. Things in my 
life. My breakfast. What was that? Oh, yogurt, granola, nuts, and fresh 
fruit, since you ask."

In Defense of Eye Candy
By Stephen P. Anderson.
"Bottom line? Visual design is more than styling. It is function. And 
not only because it communicates, but also because it makes us feel. 
And between feeling and communication, people find things easier to 

Don Norman Interview: Tech Design with Thought
By Candace Lombardi.
"If anyone knows a thing or two about designing for human-computer 
interaction, it's Don Norman, professor at Northwestern University, 
author of 'The Design of Future Things', and co-founder of the Nielsen 
Norman Group."

The Web's Future: Peering into the Crystal Ball
By Kristin Vincent.
"In the future, we will see modules on the page that are triggered to 
appear dynamically as a result of user actions. These modules will 
contain content from multiple sites. The number and arrangement of 
modules on the page will be rules based, and the possibilities will be 
infinite because designers can't possibly predict or plan for the 
series of user actions that will kick off different combinations on the 
page. Joshua Davis, the first speaker at the conference, talked about 
the idea of computational design in art, where he builds design rules 
and elements of randomness into a program and then runs the program to 
create artwork. But I'm speculating about a new implementation of 
computational design that was not influenced by programmatic 
randomness, but by actions performed by users. And instead of creating 
art, this would create new transactional e-commerce or learning spaces. 

Building the UX Dreamteam
By Anthony Colfelt.
"...Aimed at managers and those involved in the hiring decision 
process, this article looks at the facets of UX staff and offers ways 
to identify the skills and influence that will tune your team to 
deliver winning results..."

Consensus is For Losers
By D. Keith Robinson.
"...I've been designing for years now and it's become crystal clear to 
me that the very best designs, based on just about any standard of 
quality you can think of, are not, ever, done by committee..."

Slideshows From Parisweb 2007


Collecting for Design
By Matthew Smith.
"'Genius,' Thomas Edison once said, 'is 1% inspiration, and 99% 
perspiration.' While we can't help with the latter, one way to oil your 
creative gears is to maintain a collection of inspiring design. Join 
Matthew Smith on a scientific journey of discovery? all for the sake of 
a simple navigation bar."

+08: PHP.

Introduction to PHP Programming
By PHP Catalyst.
Topics covered in the tutorial include: the basics of PHP, variables 
and data types, expressions, functions, scoping, and strings/arrays.

Dangers of Remote Execution
By PHP Discovery.
"...PHP has numerous ways to execute raw PHP code unless you the 
programmer stops it. Best way in preventing these methods is making 
sure you check the input of what your users are inputting, and making 
sure you escape all malicious actions that a hacker,cracker, kiddy 
scripter might want to do to your website..."


HTML Design Principles, First Public Working Draft
By Anne van Kesteren and Maciej Stachowiak, editors.
"Publication as a Working Draft does not imply endorsement by the W3C 
Membership. This is a draft document and may be updated, replaced or 
obsoleted by other documents at any time. It is inappropriate to cite 
this document as other than work in progress."
Post your comments to:
mailto:public-html-comments at w3.org

W3C Seeks Community Support for HTML Design Principles (First Public 
Working Draft)
By HTML Working Group.
"The HTML Working Group has published the First Public Working Draft of 
HTML Design Principles. This document describes the set of guiding 
principles used by the HTML Working Group for the development of HTML5, 
expected to define the fifth major revision of the core language of the 
World Wide Web. These design principles are an attempt to capture 
consensus on design approach in the areas of compatibility, utility, 
interoperability, and universal access. Learn more about the HTML 

HTML Activity Statement
By W3C.
"HTML is the family name for the group of languages that form the 
lingua franca of the World Wide Web..."

Email Standards Project
"The Email Standards Project works with email client developers and the 
design community to improve web standards support and accessibility in 

In All Fairness - Internet Explorer Still Stinks
By Kevin Yank.
"This is the story of how SitePoint tried to give Internet Explorer a 
fighting chance...and it lost anyway..."

Google Can't Code
By Joe Clark.
"Why do some of the least competent HTML coders on the planet work for 

Markup Map for hCard Microformat
By Christopher Schmitt.
"Knowing what elements are available in the hCard microformat is 
important when trying to apply CSS rules. The main problem is that 
there are so many elements it's easy to get tripped up on how to best 
styling an hCard..."

+10: TOOLS.

CSS Editor Bookmarklet for IE
By Steve Faulkner.
"For times when CSS styles need to be tested, on the fly, in Internet 
Explorer, the CSS editor bookmarklet can come in handy. It was 
originally developed from the test styles bookmarklet by Jesse 
Ruderman. When Internet Explorer 7 came along it ceased to work, but 
after much fiddling around I was able to get it working in IE 7. The 
CSS editor has the same functionality as the 'test styles' function on 
the Web Accessibility Toolbar."


One More Time: No text-Resize 'Widgits'
By Joe Clark.
"One disagrees with his esteemed colleague Grant Broome, who believes 
text-resize 'widgits' (that's not how it's spelled) really should still 
be used. His reasons?..."


Web Form Design: ZIP Codes and Locations
By Luke Wroblewski.
"People need to parse every question a Web form asks them, formulate 
their response to that question then enter their response into the 
space the form has provided. The best way to speed up that process -of 
course- http://www.lukew.com/ff/entry.asp?605

Screen Resolutions and Better User Experience
By Vitaly Friedman and Sven Lennartz.
"...Don't optimize your web designs for your personal convenience. 
Don't guess blindly; instead try to estimate the profile of your 
visitors and leverage your design accordingly. In most cases you can 
improve the user experience by keeping the width of your layout at most 
1000px. Design for your visitors, even if it means that your design 
looks terrible on your high-resolution wide-screen laptop."

Thinking Web, Not Website
By Gerry McGovern.
"The Web is the network. The Web is the organization. Your website is 
not important. Reaching your customers is."

Meta-Usability: When the Method is Not the Message
By Kath Straub.
"Kath Straub looks at the gap between what researchers study and what 
practitioners want - and the gap between what practitioners present and 
what clients want to hear."

7 Critical Considerations for Designing Effective Applications, Part II
By Jared M. Spool.
"Our user, a regular business traveler trying to quickly book a flight, 
was reviewing a selection of flight options supplied by USAir.com. 
While there were plenty of flights, the user felt these weren't meeting 
her needs -- either the flight arrived too late or made risky 
connections. Thinking leaving a little earlier would give her better 
flights, the user tried hitting the back button only to receive an 
error message..."

The Joys of Consistent Web Practices
By Mike Cherim.
Ever since I have been flying the web developer pennant in my 
occupational corner I have been trying to develop my own best practices 
based on existing web standards and accessibility requirements, and 
then applying them consistently. My goal is to gain the ability to 
perform a task the same way time and time again without having to think 
about it, meanwhile ensuring my works conform to standardized usability 
practices to guarantee at least satisfactory experiences for my site's 
users. Consistency, after all, can be a very good thing for everyone. 
Let me explain..."

The Fine Line Between Security and Usability
By Sunnet Beskerming.
"Finding the right balance between security and usability is difficult 
for any software developer. Recently a set of issues were disclosed 
where it was apparent that Microsoft had worsened the security 
situation for their users based on the software provided with Windows, 
or based on their response to reported problems."

We Know Security and Usability are Orthogonal - Do You?
By Sunnet Beskerming.
"...While a greater understanding of secure development practices and 
security as a part of the design process means that more applications 
are being created without needing to sacrifice usability for security, 
many users have been conditioned into thinking that a tightening of 
security means reduced usability. If you still think that is not the 
case, consider two recent examples that have affected both Apple and 

[Section one ends.]


+13: 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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