[webdev] Web Design Update: July 3, 2007

Laura Carlson lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Thu Jul 3 06:29:17 CDT 2008

- Volume 7, Issue 01, July 3, 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.

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

[Contents ends.]

++ SECTION ONE: New references.


Why PDFs Suck!
By Henny Swan.
"PDFs get a rough press when it comes to accessibility and 
understandably so as most PDFs on the web today are not accessible. I 
thought I'd turn the spotlight on the much maligned thorn in many a web 
site owners side, and look at some of the reasons why PDFs are 
inaccessible. What follows is a list of some of reasons behind why PDFs 
suck that are not about the technology itself but how we (the web 
designer, the content author, the content commissioner, the manager, 
the policy maker) use it and what we can do to start changing PDFs on 
the web..."

Accessibility of Visual and Auditory Captchas
By Web In Sight.
"Welcome to the Accessibility of Visual and Auditory Captchas web 
survey. We are conducting this study to determine the usability and 
accessibility of captchas on the web. A captcha is a computer-generated 
challenge-response test that is intended to be easily solved by a 
human, but difficult for a computer to solve. Captchas are often used 
to prevent automated software from performing unauthorized actions, 
like creating user accounts or downloading software..."

Poetry, Punctuation, Markup; Screen Readers
By Jon Gibbins.
"...I've done some brief tests of poetry with screen readers to see how 
these two semantic constructs are handled..."

Opinion - Web Accessibility. Life In the Post-Guideline Age.
By Julie Howell.
'...If we really want equality on the web, it strikes me that we must 
adopt the language that businesses are using when they talk about 
creating websites that maximize profit. Right now, businesses are 
really interested in how the web can quickly deliver return on 
investment through increased sales. They are looking to web usability 
techniques to achieve the creation of excellent user experiences for 
everyone because they know this leads to increased sales. We need to 
make sure that businesses understand that disabled people have a right 
to excellent user experiences too and to view disabled people as simply 
another target audience. If we can do this, our goal of online 
inclusion and equality really could become reality."

Spam vs. Accessibility
By Joe Dolson.
"...I'm not aware that there's any solution which has 100% success at 
differentiating humans from bots. Any barrier put in place to spam will 
also create a barrier for somebody. However, this is a decision that 
must be made for any site: when you're receiving thousands of spam 
messages a day through an insecure contact form, is it better to stop 
the occasional human or massively reduce your daily spam-killing time 
commitment? Ultimately, there isn't a real answer. Spam is too great of 
an issue to simply ignore. However, any time you create a CAPTCHA - of 
any sort - just remember this: provide an alternative. If you provide a 
phone number to those who have failed your little test, they may be 
able to reach you. If somebody needs to reach you, make it possible: 
even if they'll have to write you a letter in order to post a comment 
on your blog."

Update on the ADA
By Cyndi Rowland.
"There have been some confusing messages coming out recently regarding 
changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). WebAIM readers 
may want additional information so they can provide comments and 
feedback on an issue that continues to be conspicuously absent from the 
ADA, namely the Internet. Let me review what has happened in the past 
couple of weeks. "


CSS Nesting Specifics - When CSS Misbehaves
By Niels Matthijs.
"There are plenty of css bugs one can write about. Some are worth 
tracking because they are annoying and have a huge impact on our every 
day work, others are interesting because they haven't received too much 
attention yet. But most interesting are the ones that allow us to touch 
upon deeper, underlying problems. This article will focus on a css 
issue that will allow us to do just that..."

CSS Variables News
By Daniel Glazman.
"Dave Hyatt and I are finalizing a new version of our CSS Variables 
specification based on both readers' feedback and implementation..."

Flexible Layouts: Challenge For The Future
By Dirk Jesse.
"This article is a guest post written by Dirk Jesse, the developer of 
YAML (Yet Another Multicolumn Layout), an (X)HTML&CSS framework which 
explains his motivation for YAML in the last paragraph of the article. 
This article is supposed to initiate the discussion about the need for 
more flexible layouts in modern web design and explain why flexible 
designs are still important - even despite the Full Page 
Zoom-functionality implemented in most modern browsers."

Creating Scalable Layouts
By Craig Grannell.
"Craig Grannell is a master of getting around varied screen sizes and 
resolutions that affect how users view websites. This issue, he shows 
you a flexible method..."

 From Pixels to Print
By Aron.
"Print stylesheets are an excellent way of providing refined content to 
your readers without having to maintain multiple versions of the 

HTML vs CSS part 3, Heading Headaches
By Niels Matthijs.
"In this article I'll be continuing my quest for leaner css at the 
expense of slightly more convoluted html. I hope last week's example on 
navigation lists was clear enough as to remove any remaining confusion. 
Today we'll be looking at html headings (<h1> - <h6>) and why they are 
such a drag to style..."

Nifty Navigation Tricks Using CSS
By Rachel Andrews.
"...an article that is still popular for beginners looking to create 
visually interesting site navigation elements that are based on 
semantic markup."

Breaking Out of the Box With CSS Layouts
By Jina Bolton.
"...example of what can be done to dispel the myth that all CSS layouts 
are boxy."

Warning: This Secret CSS Technique Will Surprise You!
By Alex Walker.
"...just when you thought you'd seen everything that could be done with 
CSS, Alex, comes up with this crazy effect."

Fancy Form Design Using CSS
By Cameron Adams.
"...consistently the most popular article on SitePoint, month upon 
month upon month"


10 Measures for Continuous Website Maintenance
By Jens Meiert.
"Website maintenance and quality assurance mean the backbone of high 
quality offers of information, and they represent the difference 
between an amateurish or professional approach to web design and 
development. Consequently, guidelines for quality web design define 
maintenance and quality assurance as important process ingredients 
which have to be applied continuously. But let's see what this really 
means for our work..."

+04: EVENTS.

Scripting Enabled
September 2008.
London, United Kingdom

The Ajax Experience
September 29 - October 1, 2008.
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.

User Interface 13 Conference
October 13-16, 2008.
Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.A.

+05: FLASH.

SWF Searchability FAQ
By Adobe.
"...Adobe is providing optimized Adobe Flash Player technology to 
Google and Yahoo! to enhance search engine indexing of the Flash file 
format (SWF) and uncover information that is currently undiscoverable 
by search engines..."

Improved Flash Indexing
By Ron Adler and Janis Stipins.
"We've received numerous requests to improve our indexing of Adobe 
Flash files. Today, Ron Adler and Janis Stipins - software engineers on 
our indexing team-will provide us with more in-depth information about 
our recent announcement that we've greatly improved our ability to 
index Flash..."


More on Wireframes
By Chris Baker.
"Since composing my last post on wireframes I came across a couple of 
articles on the subject which reinforce the point of needing to keep 
wireframes simple - in terms of what they are for as well as how they 

An Activity-Theory-Based Model To Analyze Web Application Requirements
By Lorna Uden et al.
"Few proposals for modeling and developing Web applications, deal with 
how to properly elicit and represent Web application requirements. Web 
applications introduce unique characteristics such as navigation that 
are not properly considered at the requirements level. In this paper, 
we seek to improve on improve on existing methods through the use of 
cultural-historical activity theory."


Getting Out of Binding Situations in JavaScript
By Christophe Porteneuve.
"Every wonder who you really are? Congratulations! You have a lot in 
common with JavaScript. Learn once and for all how to train your 
JavaScript to remember who it is and what it's doing."

ARIA Slider, Part 3
By Hans Hillen.
"After covering a basic ARIA slider as well as a more complex slider 
component, we will take a closer look at how a slider can be used to 
create a more obscure but very powerful widget: the double slider (or 
'range slider'). We will discuss what to think about when creating a 
double slider, and what changes to make to your slider's ARIA 


Building and Managing Virtual Teams
By Chris Nagele.
"I constantly get the same question, 'How do you manage a virtual team 
and actually get stuff done..."

Luke Wroblewski On Web Form Design (Interview)
By Reshma Kumar.
"...how do we ensure that in creating web forms, we get them right? I 
am speaking with Luke Wroblewski, Senior Principal at Yahoo! and author 
of a new book 'Web Form Design: Filling in the Blanks'..."

+09: PHP.

PHP Security
By Daniel Egeberg.
"Writing PHP applications is pretty easy. Most people grasp the syntax 
rather quickly and will within short time be able to produce a script 
that works using tutorials, references, books, and help forum forums 
like the one we have here at PHP Freaks. The problem is that most 
people forget one of the most important aspects that one must consider 
when writing PHP applications. Many beginners forget the security 
aspect of PHP..."

Three Quick Tips To Make Your PHP Understandable
By Nick Miller.
Producing code that clearly conveys a developer's intent is key to any 
well written application. That not only applies to PHP, but every 
programming language. Developers who emphasize the creation of legible 
code tend to create applications which are easier to both maintain and 
expand upon. After seven years of programming in PHP I've worked on a 
variety of projects where well organized and legible code were set 
aside for numerous reasons. Some of those reasons include time 
constraints, lack of experience, lost enthusiasm, misdirected 
pre-optimizing, and the list goes on. Today we'll look at three simple 
methods which are commonly ignored by developers for some, if not all 
of the reasons described above."


Removing Microformats from bbc.co.uk/programmes
By Michael Smethurst.
"...Unfortunately there have been a number of concerns over hCalendar's 
use of the abbreviation design pattern...Until these issues are 
resolved the BBC semantic markup standards have been updated to prevent 
the use of non-human-readable text in abbreviations..."

hAccessibility Redux?
By Patrick Lauke.
"...Here's hoping that high-profile announcements like the BBC's (and 
those less public, but nonetheless significant ones) will help create 
some momentum and a concerted effort to find a robust substitute for 
ABBR. And, once that's happened, can we finally take this flawed design 
pattern out of circulation, educate the early adopters of microformats 
about the new and improved pattern(s), and move on to bigger and better 

ABBR Pattern Accessibility
By Alastair Campbell.
"...The bottom line is that the BBC's decision to ditch hCalendar is a 
reasonable one, and every UK/US organization has to (by law) consider 
the accessibility of what they produce. For me it's similar to the 
table accessibility issues with HTML5. Although using multiple layers 
of headings (and other 'edge cases') are difficult to do without more 
complex markup like header/ids, it has to be possible to achieve it 
accessibly. Even if it doesn't pave a cow-path, or it is difficult for 
any regular developer, it has to be possible. Otherwise large 
organizations will have to look elsewhere when producing that type of 
content (e.g. PDF)."


Better CSS Font Stacks
By Nathan Ford.
"One aspect of designing for the web that almost immediately offends 
designers is the lack of fonts that are considered safe to use. While 
it is true that there are only a handful of web safe fonts, the ones we 
do have at our disposal can be quite powerful and diversely useful. On 
top of that, CSS gives us a nice little thing called a font stack..."


Extreme Usability: How to Make an Already-Great Design Even Better
By Jakob Nielsen.
"The 1% of websites that don't suck can be made even better by 
strengthening exceptional user performance, eliminating miscues, and 
targeting company-wide use and unmet needs."

Designing Ethical Experiences: Understanding Juicy Rationalizations
By Joe Lamantia.
"Designers rationalize their choices just as much as everyone else. But 
we also play a unique role in shaping the human world by creating the 
expressive and functional tools many people use in their daily lives. 
Our decisions about what is and is not ethical directly impact the 
lives of a tremendous number of people we will never know. Better 
understanding of the choices we make as designers can help us create 
more ethical user experiences for ourselves and for everyone."

The State of the UX Community
By Jonathan Follett.
"Over the past three decades of computer/human interaction, we've seen 
digital technology evolve from a curiosity to a convenience to an 
integral part of our everyday lives. For UX professionals, the demand 
for our skill sets and the opportunities to practice seem only to grow, 
whether we be designers or developers, usability specialists or 
information architects, working in fields as diverse as Web, mobile, 
desktop, and embedded software systems. The UX professions are at a 
stage that could very well be a tipping point where the rapid rise of 
digital devices, services, and connectivity converge to create a 
massive need for UX professionals. The mobile space alone could 
generate demand that we can only begin to imagine."

Interaction Design - It's All About the  Subtleties
By Jared Spool.
"Pop-ups have earned a bad reputation, mostly because design teams 
often use them to distract users with unwanted advertising. However, a 
well-designed pop-up with useful information can add real value to a 
web experience..."

Why Does the OK Button Say OK?
By Gerry McGovern.
Words are critical to task completion on websites and in applications. 
Yet they are still chosen carelessly."

Reduce Bounce Rates, Fight for the Second Click
By Jakob Nielsen.
"Different traffic sources imply different reasons for why visitors 
might immediately leave your site. Design to keep deep-link followers 
engaged through additional page views."

The Future of Usability is Mobile
By John S. Rhodes.
"About 10 years ago I would have told any new usability specialist to 
spend time learning about the Internet. I might have even encouraged 
that person to learn about web site hosting, HTML, and JavaScript. I 
would have made these recommendations because the web ushered in such a 
profound change. These days, I would not talk about the web that 

Usability and Security: Unlikely bedfellows?
By Mrudula Kodali.
"Any website that requires users to logon or provide sensitive 
information (e.g. credit card details) has to have some level of 
security. With people getting more and more overwhelmed with the number 
of usernames, passwords and PINs they have to remember, it's becoming a 
challenge to ensure that online security remains usable and safe. This 
month's feature article provides some top tips to help your customers 
remember their passwords and continue using your website in the 

Should Links Open In New Windows?
By Vitaly Friedman and Sven Lennartz.
"No, they shouldn't..."

[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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