[webdev] Web Design Update: November 21, 2008

Laura Carlson lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Fri Nov 21 06:26:12 CST 2008

- Volume 7, Issue 21, November 21, 2008.

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.
06: PHP.
10: XML.

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

[Contents ends.]

++ SECTION ONE: New references.


This is How the Web Gets Regulated
By Joe Clark.
"As in finance, so on the web: self-regulation has failed. Nearly ten 
years after specifications first required it, video captioning can 
barely be said to exist on the web. The big players, while swollen with 
self-congratulation, are technically incompetent, and nobody else is 
even trying. So what will it take to support the human and legal rights 
of hearing impaired web users? It just might take the law, says Joe 

Guidelines for the Description of Educational Media
"The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) was part of a U.S. 
Department of Education grant awarded to the Described and Captioned 
Media Program (DCMP) of the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) to 
define guidelines for media description of educational materials."

Description Key
Description resources available to teachers and parents. "Developed 
through a partnership between the Described and Captioned Media Program 
(DCMP) and the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), the Description 
Key began as recommendations, suggestions, and best practices culled 
from an extensive literature search and meta-analysis [PDF] in 2006. 
AFB assembled an expert panel in media description and education for 
children with visual impairments to help evaluate media description 
strategies for educational material. The list of recommended practices 
was then subjected to a consensus review process by these leading 
experts, resulting in a reduction from 204 to 63 critical indicators. 
This work was opened to an extensive public review in the spring of 
2008 that invited comments and rankings of each indicator's importance. 
The expert panel met a final time in July 2008 to review these public 
comments, the rankings, and to discuss each indicator before adopting 
the final document presented here. (For a more detailed look at how 
(and why) the Key was developed, please read AFB's 'Background of the 
Description Key.')"

The Way of the Accessibility Wiki
By Henny Swan.
"I'm not sure why but 2008 has been the year of the wiki in 
accessibility circles. As the field of accessibility has got more vast 
and complex so have people's need for detail and areas of specialty 
making it almost impossible to stay on top of everything. This can be 
quite bewildering for anyone trying to build accessible web pages, 
especially when knowledge is spread around countless blogs and forums, 
so wiki's really do seem like the way forward. But are we in danger of 
spreading ourselves too thin?..."

Development of the Accessible Information and Communications Standard: 
Where We Are Now
By Government of Ontario.
"On November 17, the Ontario government released the proposed 
Accessible Information and Communications Standard for a 60-day public 
review period. A standards development committee, composed of 
representatives from the disability and business communities, developed 
the proposed standard..."

Differences Between the WAI Standards Developer and User Perspectives
By Brian Kelly.
"...In is not in scope for people at WAI to address the resource 
implications of conforming with their guidelines, the complexities of 
implementing the guidelines or to consider alternatives ways in which 
accessibility challenges can be addressed. If these issues are 
out-of-scope for WAI, then there's a need for the issues to be 
addressed by the user community.  And this will include addressing 
these difficult issues. It is the user community to decide when the WAI 
guidelines may be the best way of providing accessible services, when 
other solutions may be relevant and to ensure that cost-effective and 
sustainable solutions are provided..."

Embedding Time-Aligned Text into Ogg
By Silvia Pfeiffer.
"As part of my accessibility work for Mozilla and Xiph, it is necessary 
to define how time-aligned text such as subtitles, captions, or 
annotations, are encapsulated into Ogg..."


Aural CSS Notes Updated Following Tests With Opera Voice and FireVox
By Jon Gibbins.
"Opera with Voice and the FireVox extension for Firefox both claim to 
support some of the CSS 3 Speech module properties. Following some 
quick tests on Windows, Opera 9.62 seems to work reasonably well, but 
the latest FireVox appears to have broken support..."

Tables: The Next Evolution in CSS Layout
By Kevin Yank.
"Crafting CSS layouts is tricky. In this article, Kevin Yank introduces 
CSS tables (which, once IE 8 is released, will be supported by all 
major browsers). They promise to make CSS layouts much easier for 

Terrific Tables with CSS
By Jonathan Snook.
"HTML tables have gained a new lease of life in the CSS era, now that 
they have been freed from misuse as a layout element. In this article, 
Jonathan demonstrates how you can use CSS to create exciting, colorful 
tables, which will work successfully across browsers, as well as taking 
a peek at what the future holds."

+03: COLOR.

The Web, What's in a Colour?
By Adrian Rayfield.
"The Web is a colourful medium and colour plays an important role in 
all Web sites. Colour can draw your attention to certain areas of a 
page, clearly showing navigation and links, as well as make the site 
look more inviting..."


User Research Friday
By Lane Halley.
"One thing I was really listening for was how people actually use 
research to do design. In my practice as an interaction designer, I 
find user research to be extremely important. I'm a strong advocate of 
ethnographically-inspired fieldwork...because it helps me understand 
how people really work and think."

The More the Merrier?
Mariana Da Silva.
"When it comes to deciding how many users to recruit for user testing, 
nobody seems to agree on an ideal sample size...Of course, in any case, 
the more the merrier, but this is only possible in a world where 
resources, such as time and money, are infinite. In the real world, we 
compromise, and the trick is in being able to achieve a good balance 
between rigor and value."

Sample Size Oddities
By Steve Baty.
"It might seem counterintuitive, but the larger the proportion of a 
population that holds a given opinion, the fewer people you need to 
interview when doing user research. Conversely, the smaller the 
minority of people who share an opinion, the more people you need to 


HTML History
By Mike Smith.
"This page records a history of milestones in the development of the 
HTML language (in the  two forms of the language understood by most 
current browsers), from the publication of the HTML4 recommendation on 
through to the publication of the first public working draft of the 
HTML5 specification..."

Ideal UX Team Makeup: Specialists, Generalists, or Compartmentalists
By Jared Spool.
"...What makes an effective UX team is the completeness of the skill 
set across all the members. The roles of individuals are secondary -- a 
team with generalists will always be more flexible than a team of 
specialists. Specialists help when the local economic conditions 
support their being there. Yet, specialists have general knowledge, so 
they can be flexible and interact with the rest of the team in a 
productive manner."

Four Internet Design Considerations Every Client Should Know
By Tedd Sperling.
"The Internet is a medium unlike any other. The Internet provides new 
and exciting opportunities in product presentation and ways to attract 
and cultivate customer's interest. Tapping the true power of the 
Internet lies in understanding the difference between the Internet and 
all other mediums and then using those differences to promote business 
in new ways..."

+06: PHP.

10 Advanced PHP Tips To Improve Your Programming
By Glen Stansberry.
"...This tutorial is aimed at people who are just past the beginning 
stages of learning PHP and are ready to roll up their sleeves and get 
their hands dirty with the language. Listed below are 10 excellent 
techniques that PHP developers should learn and use every time they 
program. These tips will speed up proficiency and make the code much 
more responsive, cleaner and more optimized for performance..."

PHP Tip: Classes Aren't Derived From stdClass
David Otton.
"Many OO languages have the concept of a single base class from which 
all other classes are explicitly or implicitly descended. For example, 
Ruby, Java and .NET all have Object. It's a very common belief that PHP 
implements stdClass as a base class for all objects, but this is in 
fact not the case."


HTML 5, the Markup
By Karl Dubost.
"...Mike Smith has extracted the parts of HTML 5 related to the content 
model. This document is aimed at people who would like to focus on the 
content model, be reviewers, authoring tools implementers, 
documentation writers..."

HTML: The Markup Language
By Mike Smith.
"This specification describes the fifth major version of the HTML 
vocabulary. It provides the details necessary for producers of HTML to 
create conformant HTML documents. By design, it does not describe 
related APIs nor attempt to describe how consumers of HTML are meant to 
process HTML documents..."

What HTML 5 is and What it is Not
By Scott Loganbill.
"An update by the working group behind HTML 5 defined what HTML 5 will 
not do this week, both putting a limit on HTML 5's seemingly endless 
ambitions and also suggesting we may someday see a final version of the 

Well-Formed Mark-Up?
By Adrian Bateman.
"There's an interesting debate going on in the W3C HTML working group 
about whether well-formed HTML is important in the specification 
process for HTML5..."

More on Developing Naming Conventions, Microformats and HTML5
By Andy Clarke.
"Not quite a lifetime, but it was way back in May 29th 2004, on my 
retired blog And All That Malarkey, when I surveyed forty designers' 
sites "to see what conventions they used for common page elements like 
headers and banners, navigation, content and footers" (the results at 
the time)..."

How to Learn HTML5
By Kroc Camen.
"Once you have made a decent HTML4 site, then you will look at the 
HTML5 specification, and it will make sense-you will know what to do 
with it."

The March of Access Control
By John Resig.
"The web is changing. Historically it's been painfully easy to request 
resources from remote locations (such as stylesheets, scripts, images, 
and loading pages in iframes) - but this has brought along a whole 
world of security issues that browsers are continuing to try and 

This Week in HTML 5 - Episode 13
By Mark Pilgrim.
"The big news this week is a major revamping of how browsers should 
process multimedia in the <audio> and <video> elements."


Improve Your Typography with 'Typographic Contrast'
By Ross Johnson.
"Having just spent a week in various countries through out Europe I 
found myself studying the design techniques of thee various different 
cultures as well as how it compares to that of the US. Interestingly 
enough I found myself able to look at the typography of design 
completely independent of the message (as I did not know the language). 
This is an oddly effective way to see what techniques of displaying and 
using type were effective, for what reasons, and why..."


Business Case for Deleting Content
By Gerry McGovern.
"The more you delete, the more you simplify. The more you simplify, the 
more you increase the chances of your customers succeeding on your 

People Are From Earth, Machines Are From Outer Space
By Don Norman.
"Norman's law: The number of hours per day spent maintaining our 
equipment doubles every 18 months..."

PDF Manuals: The Wrong Paradigm for an Online Experience
By Mike Hughes.
"I'm not down on every use of PDF files online. Campus maps, article 
reprints, and my aunt's Christmas letters all work quite well as PDF 
files. What I want to challenge in this column is the use of PDF files 
for distributing user assistance online, in the form of large books." 

Agile Development Projects and Usability
By Jakob Nielsen.
"Agile methods aim to overcome usability barriers in traditional
development, but pose new threats to user experience quality.
By modifying Agile approaches, however, many companies have realized the
benefits without the pain..."

Designing Tables for Usability
By Aenui.
"...We want to achieve tables which are more scannable, with data that 
is easily findable, more aesthetically-pleasing and also easier to 
style using CSS...."

Error Message Design Showcase
Christian Watson.
"An important part of designing any kind of registration or login form 
is how you handle when things go wrong ? a required field is missed or 
data is entered incorrectly..."

+10: XML.

Why Did SMIL and SVG Fail?
By Brian Kelly.
"...I think it is clear that W3C have failed to deliver a solution 
which is being widely deployed.  Now this may not be of concern to W3C 
- they may regard their role as simply developing standards and are 
happy to leave it to the marketplace to adopt or reject the standards. 
However as user organizations we can't take this stance.  So we will 
need to ensure that we have learnt form the failures of well-promoted 
standards to have any significant impact. Or perhaps we should simply 
be prepared to wait for a longer period for new standards to gain 
impact.  Perhaps we may find greater take-up of SMIL and SVG, with the 
mobile market providing the arena for the standards to demonstrate 
their worth...."

[Section one ends.]


+11: 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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