[webdev] Web Design Update: December 4, 2008

Laura Carlson lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Thu Dec 4 15:33:36 CST 2008

- Volume 7, Issue 23, December 4, 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:

10: PHP.

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

[Contents ends.]

++ SECTION ONE: New references.


Pretending To Be The Blind Guy/Does It Work?
By Niels Matthijs.
"...Of course you can buy or download your own screen reader, close 
your eyes for 5 hours straight and try to empathize with the people 
you're going through all this trouble for, but that still won't lead 
you to all the right answers..."

BS 8878: draft British accessibility standard for public comment
By Bruce Lawson.
"The British Standards Institution is inviting all interested parties, 
and in particular marketing professionals and disabled web users, to 
review and comment on the draft of a new standard on accessible web 
content. DPC BS 8878 Web accessibility - Building accessible 
experiences for disabled people - Code of Practice is applicable to all 
public and private organizations wishing to offer accessible, usable 
web content to their customers..."

Making Video and Audio Usable For The Deaf
By Joseph C. Dolson.
"Using video and audio in a website increases the probability of an 
accessibility problem. Where text can be readily translated into a wide 
variety of alternative mediums for the disabled, the complex nature of 
video and audio make this kind of machine-generated comprehension 
nearly impossible. Add to that the fact that reading a transcript 
hardly conveys an experience equivalent to the excitement of an 
expertly-produced audio file, and it's clear that marketers have a 
serious challenge when targeting the disabled using video and audio."

Web Accessibility and the Law - India
By Ajay Kolhatkar.
"I would really like to thank Vijay Krishnamani for his comment on the 
previous post. Essentially, because it helped me dedicate this post 
only for the law in India..."

Making Google Maps More Accessible
By Roger Johansson.
"It has become very popular to use the Google Maps API to add maps to 
websites. While the maps work fine for most users, unfortunately Google 
Maps does not by default work without JavaScript - when there is no 
JavaScript support, you don't get a map..."

Adding a Map to Your Web Site
By Mike Cherim.
"Local brick-n-mortar businesses, those who rely on walk-in, 
on-location commerce, will often have a web site to promote their 
business. It's a good idea. The cost of having a web site is next to 
nothing, maintenance is easy if the site was built with updating in 
mind, and it can be a great service to existing and potential 
customers, depending on how it's used. One such service would be 
helping the potential client find the business's physical location. 
This can be easily facilitated by adding a location map to the site. 
How one should do this is the subject of this article."

Web Accessibility Principles
By WebAIM.
"This resource is designed to be printed as a one page PDF file. An 
HTML version is also available below..."

Testing Web Content for Accessibility
By WebAIM.


HTML/CSS Crash Primer
By Tom Muck.
"This article is intended as a re-introduction to HTML and CSS, and 
something I have used in the past to give to any new employees who may 
have had HTML experience, but exhibited some bad habits in actual 
coding. You may think HTML is simple and you may think you know all you 
need to know, but HTML is misused daily. Following are some basics to 
help correct some of the common problems."

Scalable Content Box Using Only One Background Image
By Dmitry Fadeyev.
"A colleague of mine was recently trying to cut down on image usage 
when working on a web design project. He asked me whether it was 
possible to use one image for a vertically scalable content box that 
had both, a unique heading background, a border along the sides and a 
rounded off border in the footer..."

User Styling
By Jon Hicks.
"During the recent US elections, Twitter decided to add an 'election 
bar' as part of their site design. You could close it if it annoyed 
you, but the action wasn't persistent and the bar would always come 
back like a bad penny. The solution to common browsing problems like 
this is CSS. 'User styling' (or the creepy 'skinning') is the creation 
of CSS rules to customize and personalize a particular domain. Aside 
from hiding adverts and other annoyances, there are many reasons for 
taking the time and effort to do it..."

Everything you Know is Wrong!
By Jeffrey Way.
"This tutorial will show you how you'll be building your layouts in the 
future. Actually, you should be using these methods right now! Rather 
than relying on floats and absolute positioning to build our layouts, 
we'll instead focus on utilizing css tables...This tutorial will show 
you how you'll be building your layouts in the future. Actually, you 
should be using these methods right now! Rather than relying on floats 
and absolute positioning to build our layouts, we'll instead focus on 
utilizing css tables..."

Building Floating Lists With CSS
By: Alejandro Gervasio.
"In this four-part series of articles I'm going to show you how to 
build several floating HTML lists by means of a few basic CSS styles, 
and basic markup. In this manner you can implement this useful approach 
within your existing or future web sites..."

CSS Angles: Just the Edge Your Web Page Needs!
By Tim Wright.
"With the influx of JavaScript libraries like jQuery and Prototype, a 
lot of the more basic elements of front-end development have fallen 
through the cracks. Gone are the days when we would sit down for a 
couple of hours to find a creative way to solve a CSS problem; now we 
immediately turn to JavaScript. Not to say that it's a bad thing-it is 
what it is in the current state of web development. But sometimes we 
have to look back on those old techniques to find a new way of 
achieving a solution..."

CSS Boundaries/Stopping the Cascade
By Niels Matthijs.
As css developers, we all love the cascade. It brings us many great 
opportunities and saves us heaps of time. But below that shiny surface 
of the cascade is a darker streak, popping up at the most annoying of 
times. Sometimes the cascade tires me, sometimes I just want to build a 
wall and tell the cascade to go and bug someone else. Sadly I cannot do 
that, and a while ago I wondered why it was I couldn't do just that.


Dreamweaver CS4: A Powerful Tool for an Imperfect World
By Kevin Yank.
"With the just-released Dreamweaver CS4, Adobe has conceded that web 
design has moved on. No longer are designers content to limit 
themselves to what can be built with WYSIWYG tools; instead, 
Dreamweaver CS4 shifts focus to providing powerful tools for code-savvy 
front-end designers like you and me! With the WebKit rendering engine 
at its core, Dreamweaver CS4 embraces best practice in every aspect of 
client-side design. If only it went as far on the server side..."


Heuristic Evaluation Quality Score (HEQS): Defining Heuristic Expertise
By Shazeeye Kirmani.
"This paper identifies the factors affecting heuristic expertise and 
defines levels of expertise permissible to conduct an evaluation. It 
aims to standardize skills or define heuristic expertise worldwide and 
also suggests ways to improve issue categorization..."

Stop Calling it Usability Testing
By Patrick Kennedy.
"...usability testing' often gets misconstrued by technical types, 
project managers and business analysts. It gets turned into a stale, 
rigid, bureaucratic affair. The old 'unit, integration, system' mantra. 
It's done as a matter of course, at the end of the gantt chart, to tick 
a box. That's pointless..."

5 Ways to Get Usability Testing on the Cheap
By Josh Catone.
"Usability testing is a good idea for any new web site. Increasing the 
usability of your web site is a good idea because it will increase 
visitor satisfaction, which in turn increases sales and user loyalty. 
On the business savings side, usability testing can also save you money 
in development, maintenance, and support costs. Unfortunately, 
traditional usability tests is pricey - it can cost up to tens of 
thousands of dollars to run a usability test..."

+05: EVENTS.

California Web Accessibility Conference (CalWAC4)
January 12-14, 2009.
California State University, Long Beach, California, U.S.A.

UX Book Club
A UX (User Experience) Book Club is a get-together in which people 
interested in the area of user experience come to discuss a book 
relevant to the discipline.


Flexible Fuel: Educating the Client on IA
By Keith LaFerriere.
"IA is about selling ideas effectively, designing with accuracy, and 
working with complex interactivity to guide different types of 
customers through website experiences. The more your client knows about 
IA's processes and deliverables, the likelier the project is to 

Card Sorting: Current Practices and Beyond
By Jed Wood and Larry Wood.
"...Not surprisingly, a set of common practices in conducting card sort 
studies and analyzing the resulting data has developed over time. 
Although the results of these efforts have produced valuable results on 
balance, the practices are based more on anecdotal evidence than 
systematic research. We discussed what we consider to be the 
limitations of current practices and made recommendations based on our 
own experience (both as users of the methodology and as vendors of a 
leading online card sorting tool). We also suggested research studies 
that we believe need to be conducted and that we are in the process of 

A Modified Delphi Approach to a New Card Sorting Methodology
By Celeste Lyn Paul.
"...There is a proven benefit of participants working with a single 
model, rather than many. The information evolutionary model influenced 
by the Delphi method helps control randomness and outliers that are 
commonly encountered when analyzing multiple models as a single set of 
data. Results from the studies conducted also suggest the superiority 
of results generated from the Modified-Delphi card sort over the Open 
card sort..."

The Usability of Computerized Card Sorting: A Comparison of Three 
Applications by Researchers and End Users
By Barbara Chaparro, Veronica Hinkle, and Shannon Riley.
"Results from this two-part study are interesting in that the 'best” 
electronic card sort application appears to be dependent on the 
participant group using it. Researchers preferred WebSort to set up and 
analyze an open card sort while end users preferred OpenSort to do the 
actual card sorting..."

Create Your Own Magnetic Prototype
By Alexa Andrzejewski.
When I moved to California, my going-away gift from my ever-hands-on 
coworkers at the design research firm, Lextant, was a metal lunchbox 
filled with inkjet-printed and hand-written magnets - a personalized 
magnetic poetry kit. Ever since, I've been looking for an opportunity 
to introduce those printable magnetic sheets to interaction design..."


Testing WAI-ARIA Role Support
By Steve Faulkner.
"For WAI-ARIA to be useful, to people with disabilities who use 
assistive technology, access to the information that ARIA roles and 
properties provides must be well supported across a range of browsers 
and assistive technologies. One of the activities going on over at 
codetalks is the development and testing of ARIA test cases. As part of 
this effort, I have been developing simple test cases for ARIA role 
support and testing them using the Firefox browser and a range of 
commonly used assistive software..."

Make OOP Classes in JavaScript
By cpeterpan.
"Anyone who has tinkered with the prototype model in JavaScript to 
produce classes as we know them in other languages has generally left 
web programming all together and taken up a career as a bus driver. 
There are a coterie of frameworks designed specifically to address this 
problem. But what if you're not wild about frameworks, preferring 
instead to build tools specifically suited to your needs and style? For 
you, there is some black magic that can revolutionize the way you 
interact with the current JavaScript standard (someone please thaw me 
out when the 2.0 standard is implemented in June 2134, or whatever the 
projected date is)..."


Easing The Path from Design to Development
By Drew McLellan.
"...When asked the question of how to smooth hand-over between design 
and development, almost everyone who has experienced this situation 
could come up with their own list. This one is mine, based on some of 
the more common experiences..."


Site Wide Search On A Shoe String
By Christian Heilmann.
"...Times have moved on and nowadays you can have the same 
functionality for free using Yahoo's 'Build your own search service' - 
BOSS. The cool thing about BOSS is that it allows for a massive amount 
of hits a day and you can mash up the returned data in any format you 
want. Another good feature of it is that it comes with JSON-P as an 
output format which makes it possible to use it without any server-side 

+10: PHP.

Using PHP for the Creation of SVG Images
By Ken Coar.
"As with many of the pages on my Web site, my SVG images are in fact 
generated by PHP scripts. I end up including many of the same images in 
other pages, but not always with the same size or colors, so making 
them customizable on a case-by-case basis is a useful thing. Attributes 
such as size, scale, colour, rotation, and position are obtained from 
arguments in the URL."


Proposed Change to Dialog Example in HTML5 Section 4.6.26
By Gregory J. Rosmaita.
"The dialog example in section 4.6.26 of the 3 December 2008 version of 
the html5 draft should use ABBR not SPAN to gloss the colloquial 
pronunciation and should use EmotionML to express that the shopkeeper 
is lying, rather than using SPAN to "convey" such information..."


The Biggest Web Site Usability Mistakes You Can Make
By Kim Krause Berg.
"...To understand if your web site is meeting its usability 
requirements, ask people to take it for a spin and try it out-and more 
specifically, to see if they can answer the following questions..."

When Technology Fails
By John Horrigan and Sydney Jones.
"Some 48% of technology users usually need help from others to set up 
new devices or to show them how they function. Many tech users 
encounter problems with their cell phones, internet connections, and 
other gadgets. This, in turn, often leads to impatience and frustration 
as they try to get them fixed."

American English vs. British English for Web Content
By Jakob Nielsen.
"Users pay attention to details in a site's writing style, and they'll 
notice if you use the wrong variant of the English language."

Getting Real About Agile Design
By Cennydd Bowles.
"Agile development was made for tough economic times, but does not fit 
comfortably into the research-heavy, iteration-focused process 
designers trust to deliver user- and brand-based sites. How can we 
update our thinking and methods to take advantage of what agile offers?"

The Greatest Secret in Web Design
By Jens Meiert.
...Even if you hired the greatest designers and developers and aimed 
for high quality, your website will become bad if you don't focus on 
adding value as well as continuously maintaining your site. However, 
even if you screwed it up in the first place you can make a horrible 
site okay or even good when you focus on adding value as well as 
continuously maintaining your site..."

Save the Earth. Everybody's Doing t.
By Kath Straub.
"There are certain studies that should be replicated. Not because the 
findings are controversial. Rather, because the findings are so 
uncontroversial that you have to experience it to get how powerful the 
effect is..."

[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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