[webdev] Web Design Update: November 6, 2009

Laura Carlson lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Fri Nov 6 06:35:51 CST 2009

- Volume 8, Issue 19, November 6, 2009.

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.
12: XML.

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

[Contents ends.]

++ SECTION ONE: New references.


By W3C's Education and Outreach Working Group (EOWG).
Editors - Shawn Lawton Henry and Liam McGee.
"...the impact of disability is radically changed on the Web because 
the Web removes barriers to communication and interaction that many 
people face in the physical world. However, when websites, web 
technologies, or web tools are badly designed, they can create barriers 
that exclude people from using the Web..."

Use the th element to Specify Row and Column Headers in Data Tables
By Roger Johansson.
"When using HTML tables to mark up tabular data, remember to use th 
elements for cells that provide header information for rows or 

Accessible Media Player
By Sean Hayes.
Sean describes how to implement closed captions in Silverlight media.

Screen Reader Software Usage Shifts on Desktop and Mobile
By Henny Swan.
"...It's early days but the rise of VoiceOver and NVDA combined with 
alternative browsers such as Opera, Safari and Firefox may break the 
hold that screen reader giants Jaws and WindowEyes have over the 
market, helping to open up competition and with it how fast screen 
readers innovate in supporting new technologies such as HTML5, SVG and 
so on. This will be a win all round for both users and developers."

Why Universal Design is Important
By Kel Smith.
"...What we need to understand as a population is that inclusive design 
efforts benefit people who are not disabled, as well as those who are. 
Removing barriers to access provides a benefit that will likely improve 
user experiences for everyone. This is critically important for 
products that are launched on a global scale..."

Factsheet on Persons with Disabilities
By The United Nations.
"Around 10 per cent of the world's population, or 650 million people, 
live with a disability. They are the world's largest minority..."

Screen Reader User Survey Results
By WebAIM.
"The conclusion identified in the previous screen reader user survey, 
that there is no typical screen reader user, is solidified in the 
results of this survey. Perhaps most significant to us are the shifts 
we have seen in the mere 10 months between surveys - particularly in 
browser and screen reader usage, with a trend toward and increased 
favorability of free and low-cost screen readers. Some results 
solidified previous findings - that good heading structure is vital to 
accessibility, that Flash content continues to pose significant 
accessibility issues for screen reader users, and that images that 
convey content should be identified for users. It is also clear that 
the mobile web is a highly utilized resource by screen reader users, 
yet it is an area largely unnoticed by accessibility experts 


By Eric A. Meyer.
"In the course of a recent debugging session, I discovered a limitation 
of web inspectors (Firebug, Dragonfly, Safari's Web Inspector, et al.) 
that I hadn't quite grasped before: they don't show pseudo-elements and 
they're not so great with pseudo-classes. There's one semi-exception to 
this rule, which is Internet Explorer 8's built-in Developer Tool. It 
shows pseudo-elements just fine..."

Grouping CSS Selectors
By Virginia DeBolt.
"CSS rules can apply to more than one element on the web page..."

Poll: How do You Format your CSS?
by Chris Coyier.
"...I think it's an interesting topic because us all the implications 
it may have on a site and the working life of the front end coder. We 
spend so much time in CSS that how we choose to format it affects how 
efficiently we can write it, how easily re-acquainted we are with old 
CSS, and even potentially page loading times assuming you don't 
compress your CSS..."

Vertical Centering With CSS
By Douglas Heriot.
There are a few different ways to vertically centre objects with CSS, 
but it can be difficult to choose the right one. I'll show you all the 
best ways I've seen and also how to create a nice little centered 

The New W3C Website Goes Live ... With Invalid CSS!
By Craig Buckler.
"...Perhaps I'm being a little overly-critical, but shouldn't the W3C 
lead by example? I like their new site, but it would be better if the 
developers had followed the guidelines they were publishing. What do 
you think of the new W3C site? Should they fix the validation and 
accessibility problems? Or are they simply using the hacks and 
shortcuts many web developers use on a daily basis?"


"Scientific Survey" is an Oxymoron
By Indi Young.
"...If we peer at what we frequently use surveys for, if we really 
break it down to its root, it is to persuade or provide evidence to 
support a decision. Or its use is to get attention, as in the news 
media. These are valid uses of surveys; I am not judging, here. What I 
want to point out that what we do, 'design,' is not 'persuade' or 
'decide' or 'get attention.' We are doing something that is different 
than marketing departments or executives seeking to change the 
perception of a product/service on the market. 'Design' is closer to 
'invent,' 'devise,' 'formulate,' 'plan,' 'create,' or 'contrive.' We 
cannot use surveys to support our design activity."

Can You Say That in English? Explaining UX Research to Clients
By David Sherwin.
"It's hard for clients to understand the true value of user experience 
research. As much as you'd like to tell your clients to go read The 
Elements of User Experience and call you back when they're done, that 
won't cut it in a professional services environment. David Sherwin 
creates a cheat sheet to help you pitch UX research using plain, 
client-friendly language that focuses on the business value of each 

Moderating with Multiple Personalities: 3 Roles for Facilitating 
Usability Tests
By Jared M. Spool.
"Usability tests are a core design tool and, when done well, they 
deliver tremendous insights to the team. However, when a usability test 
is done poorly, it can be a disaster for everyone involved. An 
important key to their success is the work of a great moderator..."

Six Deadly Mistakes Of Web Page Testing & Tuning
By Khalid Saleh.
"...Here are six of the most common mistakes I see clients fall into 
while conducting online testing..."

+04: EVENTS.

Usability Training
December 1, 2009.
Sydney, Australia

Usability Evaluation & Testing Training Workshop
December 2, 2009.
Sydney, Australia


Easy ARIA Tip #4: Landmarks
By Marco Zehe.
"This article aims to provide an easy to follow guide to implement 
landmarks in a matter that makes sense, in the hopes that more folks 
will start using them in their web projects and more screen reader 
users will take notice and utilize them in their daily surfing 

YUI Theater - Douglas Crockford: 'The State and Future of ECMAScript'
By Eric Miraglia.
"Yahoo!'s JavaScript architect Douglas Crockford gave the closing 
keynote at YUICONF 2009 last week. His talk, 'The State and Future of 
ECMAScript,' was a detailed take on the events that Brendan Eich 
discussed the night before. Douglas addresses the current ECMAScript 5 
proposals (coming up for vote at ECMA in December), details some of the 
remaining sticking points, and then goes on to distill some of the 
lessons learned in the course of the ECMA 4/3.1/5 process and what they 
tell us about the process of creating standards. As Brendan did the 
night before, Douglas looks ahead to the version of ECMAScript that 
will follow the current proposal."

YUI Theater - Brendan Eich: 'ECMA Harmony and the Future of JavaScript'
By Eric Miraglia.
"Brendan Eich, JavaScript's creator, gave the opening-night keynote at 
last week's YUICONF 2009..."


Meet Victor Tsaran of Yahoo! Accessibility
By Yahoo.
"Victor runs accessibility programs at Yahoo!. He's an accomplished 
musician. He's also blind."

Geek of the Week: Wendy Chisholm
By Monica Guzman.
"Wendy Chisholm will tell you how she plans to make the world more 
inclusive. Just don't ask her how she kills time. The research 
consultant and champion of tech tools for the disabled is 
seattlepi.com's Geek of the Week..."

Steve Smith on HTML5 and CSS3
By Keir Whitaker.
"Next up in our series of web design interviews is Steve Smith from 
Ordered List. Steve is a recognized authority on front-end development, 
interface design and is also the co-founder of Sidebar Creative. As an 
author, public speaker, and University of Notre Dame professor, he is 
passionate about sharing his knowledge with others..."

Internet Turns 40, Just Might Catch On
By Adrian Roselli.
"Media outlets seem to have settled on October 29, 2009 as the official 
birthday of the Internet. This date has been chosen because it's the 
day that Leonard Kleinrock at the University of California-Los Angeles 
sent a message over a two-computer network (the other end being a 
computer at Stanford Research Institute) with Charley Kline manning the 
UCLA keyboard and Bill Duvall on the Stanford site. It's worth noting 
that the computer carrying the first ever transmission on the Internet 
("LOGIN") crashed after only two letters ('LO'). I believe that Kline 
actually typed an "L" for the third letter (instead of 'G') and in a 
fit of future-sensing self-sacrifice, executed a core dump all over the 

Why Do We Have an IMG Element?
By Mark Pilgrim.
"...Why an <img> element? Quite simply, because Marc Andreessen shipped 
one, and shipping code wins. That's not to say that all shipping code 


Why Web Links Are Calls To Action
By Gerry McGovern.
"The exact words you choose on the Web can have a huge impact on 
behaviour. Finding the right combination of words takes testing  and a 
focus on the action..."

The Importance of Links as Calls to Action
By Christian Watson.
"...One solution to this is to write a web style guide that 
specifically explains how content should be optimized for web 
presentation (headings, links, lists, etc). It's not hard to do and has 
the added advantage of creating a common understanding of how content - 
which can often be so subjective - should be written for the web within 
an organization."

+08: PHP.

PHP and MySQL. Programming for Beginners.
By eTutorials.
"Web pages are interesting, but on their own they are simply documents. 
You can use PHP to add code to your Web pages so they can do more. A 
scripting language like PHP can convert your Web site from static 
documents to an interactive application. In this chapter, you'll learn 
how to add basic PHP functionality to your Web pages..."


HTML5 Accessibility
By esw.w3.org.
"This section of the ESW wiki is dedicated to HTML5 from an 
accessibility standpoint. It is a directory to HTML5 accessibility 
meetings, reviews, processes, bugs, issues, proposals, and related 
resources from 2007 to date."

Tim Berners-Lee Sees Promise, Challenges in HTML5
By Michael Calore.
"The man credited with founding the world wide web is both excited and 
cautious about its future..."

The Address Element
By Jack Osborne.
"The address element has been around for a good few years now. In fact, 
it's been around since HTML3, remember that? However since the elements 
creation there have always been problems; knowledge and implementation. 
So with it once again being incorporated into the HTML5 specification 
how should we be using it? A quick look at the spec will tell you..."

Making Your Site HTML5 Ready part 1: The Time is Now
By Niels Matthijs.
"If you have anything to do with html and/or css you should already 
know about the recently heightened interest in html5. Of course it's 
all very cool and exciting, but where do we stand (being the eager web 
developers we are) if we want to start implementing these new tags? Can 
we simply start using them and assume that all browsers will handle 
them seamlessly? Are we really web developers if we dare to ask such 
silly questions? Here's the breakdown. "

Structured Meaning in HTML5
By David Lantner.
"HTML4 provides limited ways to give meaning to content through markup 
alone. In this post, we examine Microformats that provide real-world 
design principles, RDFa which enables extensible vocabularies and the 
new Microdata features of HTML5. All three seek to combine 
machine-readable data with human-readable content..."

Authoring Invalid HTML - A key Factor in the Web's Success?
By Vlad Alexander.
"...By the year 2000, the Web was wildly successful. Its success was a 
combination of many significant factors including the role of the US 
government, availability of software to connect PCs to server 
computers, affordable Web server software and development tools, a 
vision of the future of the Web, availability of restricted content, 
and entrepreneurship. The Web became successful before browsers had 
good auto-correction of invalid HTML. The lack of browser error 
feedback often frustrated Web site builders and made their job of 
creating Web sites more difficult. So silent auto-correction of invalid 
HTML by browsers played no significant role in the success of the Web 
and may have caused more problems than it solved. The conclusion must 
therefore be that the Web would have been successful with or without 
silent auto-correction of invalid HTML."

Emotion Markup Language (EmotionML) 1.0
Editor Marc Schroder.
"As the web is becoming ubiquitous, interactive, and multimodal, 
technology needs to deal increasingly with human factors, including 
emotions. The present draft specification of Emotion Markup Language 
1.0 aims to strike a balance between practical applicability and 
scientific well-foundedness. The language is conceived as a "plug-in" 
language suitable for use in three different areas: (1) manual 
annotation of data; (2) automatic recognition of emotion-related states 
from user behavior; and (3) generation of emotion-related system 

+10: TOOLS.

IBM Accessibility Internet Browser for Multimedia (aiBrowser)
The IBM Accessibility Internet Browser for Multimedia (aiBrowser) is an 
Internet browser for visually impaired users that provides multimedia 
control features and alternative user interfaces with external metadata.


Revisiting 'The Fold'
By Jeff Atwood.
"In treating user myopia, it's not enough to place important stuff 
directly in the user's eyepoint. You also need to ensure that you've 
placed the absolute most important stuff at the top of the page -- and 
haven't created any accidental barriers to scrolling, so they can find 
the rest of it. The fold is far less important than it used to be, but 
it isn't quite as mythical as Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster quite 

Infuse Emotion Into Experience Design
By Bruce Temkin.
"...Our research shows that most sites have poor usability and they 
don't reinforce key brand attributes. That's why I worked with Ron 
Rogowski (the primary author) on a research report that created a 
concept called Emotional Experience Design, which we define as..."

You Can Get There From Here: Websites for Learners
By Amber Simmons.
"Content-rich is not enough. Most websites are not learner-friendly. As 
an industry, we haven't done our best to make our content-rich websites 
suitable for learning and exploration. Learners require more from us 
than keywords and killer headlines. They need an environment that is 
narrative, interactive, and discoverable. Amber Simmons tells how to 
begin creating rich content sites that invite and repay exploration and 

Agile User Experience Projects
By Jakob Nielsen.
"Agile projects aren't yet fully user-driven, but new research shows 
that developers are actually more bullish on key user experience issues 
than UX."

Short Words, Sentences and Paragraphs
By Rachel McAlpine.
"Three principles will take you a long way towards writing clearly..."

8 Tips and Tricks on Developing Usable Websites
By agrublev.
"I feel like so many web developers whether beginners or experienced 
make little mistakes that make the overall website usability diminish. 
So I have come up with a list of tips/tricks that will help you either 
fix your existing websites or help you create better websites from the 
get go. So here we go..."

+12: XML.

Automatic XML Namespaces
By Liam R. E. Quin.
"...In this paper the author proposes a simple system to simplify 
namespace declaration, and to enhance namespace functionality 
considerably by introducing a single new feature, without losing the 
existing benefits. The paper first describes in more detail some of the 
issues, then summarizes the issues with requirements for change, then 
discusses other proposals, and finally makes a concrete proposal..."

[Section one ends.]


+16: 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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