[webdev] Web Design Update: May 8, 2009
lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Fri May 8 06:17:45 CDT 2009
+++ WEB DESIGN UPDATE.
- Volume 7, Issue 45, May 8, 2009.
An email newsletter to distribute news and information about web design
++ISSUE 45 CONTENTS.
SECTION ONE: New references.
What's new at the Web Design Reference site?
New links in these categories:
02: CASCADING STYLE SHEETS.
04: EVALUATION AND TESTING.
07: INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE.
12: STANDARDS, GUIDELINES & PATTERNS.
15: What Can You Find at the Web Design Reference Site?
++ SECTION ONE: New references.
Accessibility at Recovery.gov
By Jim Thatcher.
"Continuing to look at Obama administration web sites, let's check out
http://Recovery.gov, the web site set up by the administration to
monitor and explain the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It is
disconcerting how serious the issues get..."
Postscript on Recovery.gov
By Jim Thatcher.
"...This is worse than disappointing. It is something like a bluff.
What is especially distressing is that neither Watchfire nor WebXACT
exist any more - and they have been off the air since soon after IBM"s
purchase of Watchfire around June of 2007; it seems that WebXACT was
discontinued February 1, 2008. So how then could Recovery.gov have been
tested with WebXACT? In my report on Recovery.gov, the home page has
two machine detectable errors but many other very serious accessibility
road blocks.. Those two errors are technically not violations of the
"Section 508 Accessibility Guidelines", but the depth 1 scan of
Recovery.gov turned up 69 errors that are unequivocal violations of the
Section 508 Accessibility Standards, 1194.22(a) and 1194.22(n)."
Use the Fieldset and Legend Elements to Group HTML Form Controls
By Roger Johansson.
"The fieldset and legend elements, which should always be used
together, allow you to create and name groups of related input fields
in HTML forms. By doing this you help users understand how the input
fields are related..."
Autoplay is Bad for All Users
By Emma Sax.
"Autoplay is a bad idea not just for accessibility but for usability
and general sanity while browsing. This article will explain what the
problems are, where to find backup for arguments and what you can do if
autoplay is a must have..."
Learning About Video and Captioning
By Becky Gibson.
"...I used Camtasia 6.0 to record a demonstration video using the Dojo
Sample Mail application with the JAWS 10 screen reader. I then used the
IBM DigiCape program to transcribe the audio for me. That is certainly
a big help! It is much easier to edit the captions than to have to try
to transcribe it all myself. And, the Freedom Scientific folks might
get a chuckle that 'screen reader' often got transcribed as 'supreme
The alt Attribute is NOT for Tooltips
By Robert Nyman.
"I'm am so tired of the never-ending misunderstanding of the alt
attribute versus the title attribute..."
CSS Background Images Cannot and Should Not Have Alternate Text
By Roger Johansson.
"I sometimes see people asking how they can provide alternate text for
CSS background images. The answer is that you can't. Neither should you
How to Provide Alternatives to Non Text Content on a Website
By Virginia DeBolt.
"A web content accessibility guideline published by the W3C (World Wide
Web Consortium) states that website creators should provide text
alternatives for any non-text content, so that it can be changed into
other forms people need, such as large print, braille, speech, symbols
or simpler language. Here are some tips for ways to do this..."
How POUR is Your Blog
By Glenda Watson Hyatt.
"With all of this talk about monetizing your blog and using your blog
to generate business, and hence, generate an income, how POUR is your
Comments on the Ontario Accessibility Spec, April 2009 edition
By Joe Clark.
"I submitted comments via Sharlyn and stated that the Ministry of
Community and Social Services had a week to contact me or I'd publish
my comments. They didn't, so here we are..."
+02: CASCADING STYLE SHEETS.
Hiding with CSS: Problems and Solutions
By Roger Johansson.
"...In most cases, using display:none to hide an element is a bad
choice that reduces accessibility. I thought this was a well-known
fact, but apparently there are many who are not aware of it being a
problem. For that reason, here is a quick explanation of the problem
and a suggestion for an alternative technique (that I also thought was
CSS Content, counter-increment and counter-reset
By Estelle Weyl.
"I have never used the counter or increment properties since they
aren't supported in IE7 or earlier, nor are the :before pseudo
elements, or content property. Since IE8 does support all of these,
soon we may be able to include these CSS properties, so I thought I
would explain them..."
The Problem With Rounded Corners
By Niels Matthijs.
"Rounded corners. They were already a big deal a couple of years ago,
and even though several solutions exist today, they still present a
hurdle which can't be taken with much grace. When CSS3 was revealed,
one of the first announced features was the border-radius property,
enabling us to apply rounded corners through css. Remember how happy we
all were? Hold that thought, and run through this article to see how
that idea is already failing, even before it found its way into each
Better Font Families in CSS
By Lorraine Nepomuceno.
"font-family is one of the most widely used CSS properties, and with
good reason: sometimes you can change the entire feel of a design with
this one property. But selecting fonts for your stack also greatly
influences your design's readability and accessibility- which,
ultimately, is what's most important in any web design. That is, if you
want your visitors to actually read your content..."
By Jeremy Keith.
"...Either a whole swathe of my peers are confusing elastic and liquid
layouts or I'm missing something fundamental..."
Shifting my Opinion on CSS Animations
By Jonathan Snook.
"...I believe I have done a 180 on this. Why and how, you might ask?..."
Covering the Implication and Basics of CSS Animation
By Jonathan Christopher.
"Over the past few months, I've been embracing progressive enhancement
on a new(er) level..."
Standards and Accessibility with Dreamweaver
By Virginia DeBolt.
"...Emily Lewis and I gave a talk for Webuquerque. Here's the
presentation: Standards and Accessibility with Dreamweaver..."
+04: EVALUATION AND TESTING.
Where Do Heuristics Come From?
By Dana Chisnell.
"Recently I had the honor and pleasure of working on a project for the
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to develop style
guidelines for voting system documentation. Yawner, right? Not at all,
it turns out. It made me think about where guidelines and heuristics
come from for all kinds of design..."
October 8-9, 2009.
Effectively Providing Alternate Content for a Flash Application
By Todd Perkins.
"Flash has an undeserved bad wrap in the Search Engine Optimization
world. Some SEO experts even warn not to use Flash, because many search
engines have trouble indexing Flash content. While Flash content is
searchable by Google, it's critical to use Flash wisely if you want
your applications to be searchable by all search engines..."
Debugging Flash Applications with Firefox Extensions
By Tiffany B. Brown.
"...ExternalInterface requires you to test interaction between the
movie and its container. One way to do this is using the Firebug
+07: INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE.
Information Architecture and Design Strategy: The Importance of
Synthesis during the Process of Design
By Jon Kolko.
"During the process of design, Designers attempt to draw connections
between seemingly disparate ideas; they examine quantitative data
provided from marketing and qualitative data gathered from end users,
and before they can begin designing, they must make order out of the
chaotic mess of research. The connections that can be formed during
this synthesis phase frequently hold the keys to 'innovation'.
Designers visually explore large quantities of data in an effort to
find and understand hidden relationships. These visualizations can then
be used to communicate to other members of a design team, or can be
used as platforms for the creation of generative sketching or model
making. Frequently, the action of diagramming is a form of synthesis,
and is a way to actively produce knowledge and meaning...This paper
investigates the elements of Design Synthesis that are common to both
Information Architecture and Design Strategy."
Information Architecture: Synthesis Techniques for the Muddy Middle of
the Design Process
By Jon Kolko.
"Information Architecture has arisen as a field related to interaction
design. It is commonly found embedded within the profession of computer
science, and is associated with the creation of complicated software.
This relatively new field exists to make meaning out of data, and can
be applied to disciplines that have little to do with computing or even
technology. This paper provides an overview of established Information
Architecture modeling techniques, and discusses how they can be applied
to the industrial design process during the synthesis phase of design.
The text reflects on the nature of this messy and critical period in
the design process, and offers methods of quickly making information
and even knowledge out of data. Finally, the text briefly describes the
changing nature of professional demands on students entering industry,
indicating that Information Architect may be a lucrative alternative
job title for students graduating from Industrial Design programs."
Using Fieldsets Outside of Forms
By Mike Davies.
pages has raised an interesting problem about the use of form elements
outside of a form. And using a fieldset to group these elements
together is proving to be a very useful way of making them
By Rob Gravelle.
"The Error object provides a number of properties to help you display
more meaningful error messages to the client and more useful debugging
information to you, the developer. In this article, we'll go over how
to use the Error object to handle runtime exceptions."
Jaws Scripting Accessibility Links
By Leonie Watson.
"...The script enables the user to move backwards and forwards between
links with the rel="accessibility" attribute value. Where no such links
are present, Jaws reports using the standard short or long message
formats, depending on the user's verbosity settings..."
Multitasking is a Myth
By Rachel McAlpine.
"It's about concentration..."
The Shelf Life of a Skip Link
By Henny Swan.
"Most things have a shelf life and technology on the web is no
different. Tricks and hacks that once seemed to save the day sometimes
need to be retired as newer technologies or techniques get
Swine Flu, H1N1 Virus, Novel Flu
By Gerry McGovern.
"...if you want to tap the full potential of search you must add human
management: analysis, trend spotting, connecting the dots. Search is
the greatest laboratory of human behavior that has ever existed. When
words such as "swine flu" go wild on the Web, you must use those words
because otherwise you will not be found. If you are not found then you
are not useful. Before you have any chance of shifting the debate, you
must first become part of it. Using the wrong words is like ships
passing in the night: you are going one way and your customer is going
Introduction to Arrays and Hashes in PHP
By Peter Shaw.
"An array is a list of a certain variable type, where each item in the
list can be referenced by a unique index number, usually starting at 0.
Think about it in real terms as you might think about a shopping
Loops and Decisions in PHP - The ABC's of PHP Part 8
By Peter Shaw.
"In any given computer language (PHP is no exception) there has to be a
way to allow the running code to decide between doing 2 different
+11: STANDARDS, GUIDELINES & PATTERNS.
By Shelley Powers.
"I noticed a passing twitter message from Laura Scott. It said One
word: standards. Firefox follows w3c standards. Internet Explorer does
not. She wrote it in response to another Twitter message from tutu4lu,
who was having problems with a web page appearing differently with IE
Comic Update - HTML5 Manners
By Kyle Weems.
"...These people aren't average developers trading insults about
trivial code snippets on small-scale projects. These are industry
movers-and-shakers who are supposed to be working together to help
create the standards that will define how we use HTML and other web
technologies for years to come. I expect professional disagreement to
occur (I'd be worried and concerned if that didn't happen). But to
start insulting one another personally in a public discussion (or
frankly, privately) is shameful to the entire process and the entire
community that is depending on them to do a good job..."
Accessibility of HTML 5 Video and Audio Elements
By Bruce Lawson.
"HTML 5 has the audio and video elements that conveniently allow an
author to add multimedia to their pages in an intuitive way. The
advantage to the consumer is that the files will play in the browser
with no plugins, and the data will be in the browser and therefore can
be manipulated with scripts..."
Multimedia Accessibility <Audio> <Video>
By ESW Wiki.
"HTML 5 needs a mechanism to allow people with disabilities to access
multimedia content. In particular the new audio and video elements need
accessibility evaluation and review..."
This Week in HTML 5 - Episode 32
By Mark Pilgrim.
"Topping our list of changes this week is the new <hgroup> element..."
The Sorry State of WYSIWYG Web Editors
By Mike Davidson.
"We got into a heated discussion in the office about WYSIWYG web
editors today. While heated discussions are nothing new to us, neither
side even being happy with their own argument was. When people are
arguing over things they don't even believe in, there can be no
7 Tips for Designing for Older Users
By Marianne Markowski.
"The diversity of the 65 user group online is enormous. Designing for
older web users is not solely about disabilities that the elderly may
develop - it's also about their natural user behaviour and attitudes.
Our feature article this month offers a digestive list of he most
important design tips based on research with older users."
The Poverty of User-Centered Design
By Andrew Dillon.
"...the set of methods employed by most user-centered professionals
fails to deliver truly user-centric insights. The so-called 'science'
of usability which underlies user-centeredness leaves much to be
desired. It rests too much on anecdote, assumed truths about human
behavior and an emphasis on performance metrics that serve the
perspective of people other than the user. - If we could de-couple
user-centered design and usability then there might be some benefit but
I don't think this is as important as it might first appear. More
important is the very conception we have of users and uses for which we
wish to derive technologies and information resources. Designing for
augmentation is a very real problem and a great challenge for our field
theoretically and practically."
[Section one ends.]
++ SECTION TWO:
+14: What Can You Find at the Web Design Reference Site?
Cascading Style Sheets Information.
Evaluation & Testing Information.
Information Architecture Information.
Miscellaneous Web Information.
Sites & Blogs Listing.
Standards, Guidelines & Pattern Information.
[Section two ends.]
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+ SIGN OFF.
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
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