[webdev] Web Design Update: May 27, 2010

Laura Carlson lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Thu May 27 06:19:51 CDT 2010

- Volume 8, Issue 48, May 27, 2010.

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: TOOLS.

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

[Contents ends.]

++ SECTION ONE: New references.


WCAG Rethink?
By Roger Hudson.
"...In the real world, most people now accept that the needs of people 
with disabilities should be accommodated in public transport and 
building design. When it comes to the web however, I am concerned that 
many still view accessibility through the lens of charity and not 
rights. Too often the needs of people with disabilities who use the web 
are dismissed and web site accessibility is considered an add-on, 
something to be done only when time and money permit. Rules alone are 
not enough. Attitudes and behavior both also need to change...I am 
fearful if we don't take a more active approach to accessibility and 
rely just on rules and regulations alone, the web will increasingly 
become a communication medium that only an able-bodied, tech-literate 
elite will be able to participate in."

Checklists Are Useless. Really?
By UsabilityOne.
"...This is why guidelines (like WCAG) and checklists have been written. 
They are very useful and effective at identifying many common and 
serious accessibility issues so that they can be resolved. Sure, 
complying with WCAG does not guarantee that a website is 100% accessible 
either, but it is a very good starting point to efficiently address many 
common accessibility issues..."

Why Should My Website Be Accessible?
By John Eric Brandt.
"It occurred to me while I was posting a response to a potential client 
that I didn't have a resource I could point them to as an answer to the 
question in the subject line. Certainly, after doing this work for over 
10 years, I know the answer to the question, but I had never written in 
down in exactly that form. Indeed, I have given innumerable workshops 
and talks over the years and always covered this in the first five 
minutes. But I guess I have always assumed that everyone already knew 
this. Silly me..."

The Evolution Towards a Personalized Web and the Impact on Education
By Martyn Cooper.
"A highlight for me of the IMS Learning Impact conference was the 
keynote talk by Rich Schwerdtfeger (IBM) entitled 'The Evolution towards 
a Personalized Web and the Impact on Education'.  Rich co-chairs the IMS 
Accessibility group currently finalizing the AccessForAll 3.0 

Learning Not to See
By Sarah Bourne.
"...Fortunately, there are tools for desktop testing that can give a 
visual interpretation of what a non-visual user 'sees' on a web page. If 
you find using a screen reader too difficult, you may be more 
comfortable using some of these for day-to-day testing. You can think of 
them as assistive technologies, compensating for your visual bias..."

Do Your Flashing Ads Cause Seizures?
By Glenda Watson Hyatt.
"Flickering, flashing and strobing effects on webpages can cause some 
people to have photosensitive seizures..."

Access Keys
Web Aim Thread.
"I read the statement below on a website and wondered what the 
International recommendations for access keys are?..."


Responsive Web Design
By Ethan Marcotte.
"Designers have coveted print for its precision layouts, lamenting the 
varying user contexts on the web that compromise their designs. Ethan 
Marcotte advocates we shift our design thinking to appropriate these 
constraints: using fluid grids, flexible images, and media queries, he 
shows us how to embrace the “ebb and flow of things” with responsive web 

Basic Web Page Background Techniques with CSS
By Chris Spooner.
"The good old background property is one of the core elements we can 
play around with in our web designs. Here's an overview of the four most 
common approaches to styling your web page body, from the basic solid 
color through to large detailed background images. If you're just 
starting out in web design, you'll find some basic CSS techniques for 
you to put into practice into your future projects..."

Efficiently Rendering CSS
By Chris Coyier.
"I admittedly don't think about this idea very often - how efficient is 
the CSS that we write, in terms of how quickly the browser can render it..."

An Event Apart: Everything Old Is New Again
By Luke Wroblewski.
"In his Everything Old Is New Again talk at An Event Apart in Boston, MA 
Eric Meyer highlighted how new CSS3 capabilities can be used to tackle 
long-standing Web development issues with a lot less effort and code. 
Here's my notes from his presentation..."

An Event Apart: The CSS3 Experience
By Luke Wroblewski.
"At An Event Apart in Boston, MA Dan Cederholm illustrated the potential 
of CSS3 to enhance the user experience in modern Web browsers by walking 
through The CSS3 Experience. Dan used a showcase site he created to 
illustrate CSS3 in action at: Things We Left on the Moon..."


Creating Your First Website - Part 3: Adding Content To Pages
By David Powers.
"Welcome to the third part of this tutorial series on creating your 
first website. This tutorial shows you how to add content to web pages 
in Adobe Dreamweaver CS5. You can add many different kinds of content to 
web pages, including graphics, text, links, and Spry widgets-to name 
just a few. After you've added content to your pages, you can preview 
your work in Dreamweaver so that you can see what it will look like on 
the web."


Rocket Surgery Made Easy by Steve Krug: Usability Demo
By Steve Krug.
"Steve Krug's video demonstrates how simple usability testing can and 
should be. The test conducted on this demo is an abbreviated version of 
the one Krug recommends you perform on your own site."

Encouraging Negative Feedback During User Testing
By Michael Wilson.
"Have you ever sat in a user testing session, watching a user really 
struggle with the task at hand only to have them tell you at the end 
everything was easy and straight forward? How do you encourage these 
participants to be negative? I've discovered a few techniques that might 
be able to help."

Involving Stakeholders in User Testing
By Jakob Nielsen.
"Besides usability specialists, all design team members should observe 
usability. It's also good to invite executives. Although biased 
conclusions are possible, they're far outweighed by the benefits of 
increased buy-in and empathy."

Quick and Dirty Remote User Testing
By Nate Bolt.
"User research doesn't have to be expensive and time-consuming. With 
online applications, you can test your designs, wireframes, and 
prototypes over the phone and your computer with ease and aplomb. Nate 
Bolt shows the way."

+05: EVENTS.

The InterACT Summit: Virtual Book Launch and Conference
June 10, 2010.
Online Conference.


Javascript Shorthand for Cleaner Code
By Emma Sax.
"A few ways to save on some bytes in your Javascript code, as well as 
making it more readable and quicker to write..."


The Digital Divide of Disability (Sharron Rush and Desiree Sturdevant 
By Bob Garfield.
Knowbility is an organization that advocates for technology that allows 
blind, deaf and otherwise disabled people to use the net. Knowbility's 
Sharron Rush and Desiree Sturdevant talk about the challenges they face 
in raising awareness and changing the laws surrounding online usability.

Don Norman at IIT Design Research Conference 2010
Video of Don Norman's presentation.
"There is a great gulf between the research community and practice. 
Moreover, there is often a great gull between what designers do and what 
industry needs. We believe we know how to do design, but this belief is 
based more on faith than on data, and this belief reinforces the gulf 
between the research community and practice. I find that the things we 
take most for granted are seldom examined or questioned. As a result, it 
is often our most fundamental beliefs that are apt to be wrong. In this 
talk, deliberately intended to be controversial, I examine some of our 
most cherished beliefs. Examples: design research helps create 
breakthrough products; complexity is bad and simplicity good; there is a 
natural chain from research to product."

John Foliot Interview on HTML5
By Dennis E. Lembree.
Dennis interviews John Foliot on the topic of HTML5.


Understanding the Cost of We Can't Find Anything
By Thomas Vander Wal.
"One problem I often hear when talking with any organization about new 
solutions is understanding the cost and inefficiency of their existing 
way solutions, processes, or general way of doing things. In the past 
year or two I have used various general measurements around search to 
help focus the need for improvement not only on search, but the needed 
information and metadata needed to improve search."

Imposing Order Versus Observing Order
By Tom Johnson.
"It's easy to postpone organization. We begin writing discrete help 
topics, hundreds of them, and then try to group them together in a 
logical way. But here's where the problem starts. What does it mean for 
a system of organization to be “logical”? And how does the user navigate 
this logic we create?..."

Topic-Based, Hierarchical Navigation
By Tom Johnson.
"Just because topic-based navigation is often frustrating, as I hope I 
demonstrated in the examples above, it doesn't mean we should abandon 
this system of organization entirely. From a help-authoring perspective, 
you usually have to group your topics into some containers simply to 
work with the topics. But whatever containers we ultimately choose, in 
the end, if these containers do not exactly match the organizing logic 
in the user's mind, the user will take one glance at the help, maybe 
expand a few folders to peer inside, and then give up. This is why 
topic-based navigation shouldn't be the main system of navigation for 
help content..."

Faceted Classification, Faceted Search
By Tom Johnson.
"In the last post, I argued that topic-based navigation systems 
generally fail for users. Topic-based navigation has some merits, such 
as allowing users to see topics in context, to discover other topics 
through browsing, and to provide one perspective on the organization of 
the material, but topic-based navigation shouldn't be the only means of 
navigating the content. Another way to allow users to find your content 
is through faceted classification and faceted search..."

Implementing Faceted Classification/Search with a Help Authoring Tool
By Tom Johnson.
"While faceted navigation systems are common on the web, implementing a 
faceted navigation system to describe help content using one of the 
common help authoring tools, such as Flare, RoboHelp, Author-It, 
Doc-to-Help,  is more challenging..."

Second-Level Faceted Navigation
By Tom Johnson.
"In contrast to topic-based hierarchies, faceted navigation provides 
multiple paths into the same content. These multiple paths increase the 
likelihood that users find the right content..."


HTML5 Video: Not Quite There Yet
By Jeroen Wijering.
"Video is an important part of today's internet. It deserves to become a 
first-class citizen and the video tag provides the opportunity to make 
that happen.  Browser vendors should be stringent when building 
solutions that are both practical and compatible.  If not, crossbrowser 
HTML5 video will be too difficult, not to mention expensive, to 
implement.  This presents the risk of web development regression. In 
favor of its advancement, we cannot allow this to happen.  Online video 
will go mobile and big screen.  It also needs to become accessible and 
searchable.  HTML5 video will advance the progress in these areas, if 
developed carefully and intelligently.  However, without compatible 
solutions, online video is in definite jeopardy of a setback."

When Can You Use HTML5 and CSS3?
By Stefan Mischook.
"I wrote an article about this recently but I figured that since a 
picture is worth a thousand words, a video must be worth 30 million 
words. When can web designers use HTML 5 and CSS3 in your average web 

Chasing the Shiny - HTML5, CSS3, Transitions - Oh My!
By Christian Heilmann.
"...I am not saying that Paul and Divya did something bad - I am big 
fans of their work - I am just saying that we keep doing the same 
mistakes. If you would not write some HTML by hand and only need it for 
an effect - you are doing things wrong."

The Web Stack
By Eric Meyer.
"Following on my 'HTML5 vs. Flash' talk of a couple of weeks ago, I'm 
hoping to do a bit of blogging about HTML5, Flash, mobile apps, and 
more. But first I need to get some terminology straight..."

Google Announces New WebM Video Standard, Open-Sources VP8
By Louis Simoneau.
"Yesterday Google announced WebM, a new web media project that combines 
the VP8 codec (which Google acquired in its purchase of On2) with the 
Vorbis audio codec and parts of the Matroska multimedia container. As 
part of this project Google has open-sourced the VP8 codec, which could 
have far-reaching consequences for the future of video in HTML5.

+10: TOOLS.

CSS Generator
By Westciv.
This tool provides a GUI that generates code for CSS gradients, shadows 
and transforms.


The Need for Speed on the Web
By Gerry McGovern.
"Customers crave speed on the Web, and they reward organizations that 
make things fast and simple."

Too Much Stress Results In Poor Performance
By Susan Weinschenk.
"...If you might have people using your site when they are under stress, 
keep in mind that too much stress will change the way they see and use 
the web site..."

4 Easy Steps to Make Your Site More Usable to Older People
By Tom Babinszki.
"When you find a huge population of Internet users, you definitely want 
to target them and make them want to visit your site. And one of the 
major groups that many web developers are aiming to target is that of 
the aging population..."

Usability Ain't Everything - A Response to Jakob Nielsen's iPad 
Usability Study
By Fred Beecher.
"The conclusion of the Nielsen Norman Group’s April 2010 study of iPad 
usability is that it has problems and more standards are the solution. 
Yes, the iPad is imperfect, but resorting to standards as the solution 
is an antiquated reaction that fails to consider how interactive systems 
have evolved. We’re not Usability Engineers anymore (not most of us, 
anyway); we’re User Experience Designers. Experience is more than just 

[Section one ends.]


+12: 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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