[webdev] Web Design Update: September 22, 2005
lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Thu Sep 22 06:14:50 CDT 2005
+++ WEB DESIGN UPDATE.
- Volume 4, Issue 13, September 22, 2005.
An email newsletter to distribute news and information about web design
++ISSUE 13 CONTENTS.
SECTION ONE: New references.
What's new at the Web Design Reference site?
New links in these categories:
02: CASCADING STYLE SHEETS.
03: EVALUATION & TESTING.
09: STANDARDS, GUIDELINES & PATTERNS.
13: What Can You Find at the Web Design Reference Site?
++ SECTION ONE: New references.
Facts and Opinions About PDF Accessibility
By Joe Clark.
"PDF files on the web are sometimes annoying and very often
unnecessary. But when they aren't either of those things, we need to
make them accessible for the same reasons we make other web content
accessible...This article will explain how PDF does and does not
Et Tu, Joe?
By Tommy Olsson.
"...If we take a more holistic approach to the problem, rather than
focusing on PDFs, there are some major pitfalls if we start requiring
external programs or plugins. One is that those are not always
available on every computer. Sure, you can download a program or a
plugin, provided that it's even available for your operating system.
But those of us who are limited to snail-paced dial-up connections may
not be too keen on downloading tens of megabytes. This also applies to
the rapidly growing number of people surfing on mobile devices. There,
the price of bandwidth is often forbidding, and the connection is
usually even slower than a 56K modem...Developers and designers are
human beings, and human beings are often lazy. Most of them won't do
more than they have to, especially not when it comes to boring stuff
like web standards and accessibility. If important and renowned
personalities in the business say that it's OK to build web pages that
Flash, there is a risk that many will use that as an excuse for not
making an effort..."
Accessibility and Availability
By Derek Featherstone.
"Recent debate about what accessibility means has helped me clarify my
thoughts about how I see accessibility."
By Robert Nyman.
"Personally, I definitely think there are cases when PDF files are the
right format for the task, but generally they are/have been terribly
overused on the internet. However, now at least we have a guide how to
make them accessible when we have to use them, thanks to Joe."
The Problem With Automated Accessibility Testing Tools
By Trenton Moss.
"Automated accessibility testing tools can be useful as they can save a
large amount of time in performing some very basic checks for
accessibility. However, they must be used with caution and they cannot
be used as a stand-alone guide for accessibility checking. Indeed, some
expert accessibility knowledge should always be applied in evaluating a
site accessibility, perhaps in conjunction with the fantastic web
accessibility toolbar to help dramatically speed up manual checks."
+02: CASCADING STYLE SHEETS.
footerStickAlt: A More Robust Method of Positioning a Footer
By Cameron Adams.
"Recently I've been asked to code up a few sites that require the Web
page footer to be positioned either at the bottom of the browser window
or at the bottom of the Web page ? whichever is visually lowest."
When Printing Kills
By Eric A. Meyer.
"'tags" is effectively a reserved keyword, even though no such concept
exists in (X)HTML. Use it at your (users') peril."
Reserved ID Values?
By Eric A. Meyer.
"As a follow up to my entry about id="tags" causing problems in IE/Win,
here are four test pages for IE/Win..."
How to Use CSS to Position Horizontal Unordered Lists
By Stu Nicholls.
"Let's say that you've chosen to use a horizontal styled unordered list
for your navigation and have followed the CSS methods as posted on the
web. All's well until you decide to position your menu centrally or to
the right and this is where it starts to get tricky."
+03: EVALUATION & TESTING.
Two Simple But Effective Usability Inspection Techniques
By Joanna Bawa.
"Two of the most popular belong to a set of techniques called Usability
Inspection methods, and are known as Thinking Aloud and Cognitive
Eric Meyer on Professional CSS XHTML Techniques
November 3, 2005.
Chicago, Illinois U.S.A.
CSS for Designers: Molly E. Holzschlag and Andy Clarke
November 17, 2005.
London, United Kingdom
By Christian Heilmann.
It is the extra layer above the mark-up "what is this text" and the CSS
should this element behave'".
Breaking onload Limits
By Alessandro Fulciniti.
onload limits. In this article we'll present them briefly, together
with some solutions. The window.onload event handler has two main
addEvent() Considered Harmful
By Peter-Paul Koch
"Today I found excellent evidence that addEvent() can be harmful if
it's used without intimate knowledge of the differences between the W3C
and Microsoft event registration models."
RoI: How Hard is Your Web Site Working?
By Troy Janisch.
" Accountability is a good thing ? as long as it's based on sound
objectives. RoI objectives can represent tangible things such as cost
savings and intangible tings such as the projected impact your Web site
will have on customer perception and behavior. They identify how you
plan to use the Internet recover your financial investment and to
achieve some specific communication goals and marketing efforts."
Call and Response: Handling RFP Tension
By Nick Gould.
"...So, in the interest of helping designers understand how they can
make the most out of every RFP opportunity, this article highlights
four areas of client/designer engagement tension?that is, places in
the RFP where client interests and vendor interests are most often
misaligned and cause the most friction. I have also provided some
suggestions?mostly drawn from the actual experiences of my firm?to
overcome or deal with these tensions."
The Psychology of Search: Chapter One
By John S. Rhodes.
"Search is a killer application on the web and in the enterprise.
Perhaps it is the killer app. Therefore, by definition and practice, it
is a success story. At the same time, however, no one has explained
search. That is, no one has explained the fundamental nature of search.
Where is the psychology behind search? And quite seriously I ask, What
The Psychology of Search: Chapter Two
By John S. Rhodes.
"No one really understands search, or searching. Don't be fooled! There
is a poverty of understanding on this topic for many reasons, but the
primary reasons are hubris and ignorance. Too many people are reluctant
to admit they don't understand search, and too many in turn are too
weak to resist those that claim they do...."
The Psychology of Search: Chapter Three
By John S. Rhodes.
"Human memory is incredibly bad. In fact, it is so bad that you
probably don't remember what you ate for breakfast just a few days ago.
The interesting thing is that human brainpower is pretty impressive; we
are outstanding at pattern matching and problem solving. Memory has
everything to do with search."
PHP 101 (part 1): Down The Rabbit Hole
An introduction to PHP's variables and operators.
By Vikram Vaswani.
"The Only Acronym You'll Ever Need If you're new to Web development,
you could be forgiven for thinking that it consists of no more than a
mass of acronyms, each one more indecipherable than the last. ASP, CGI,
SOAP, XML, HTTP - the list seems never-ending, and the sheer volume of
information on each of these can discourage the most avid programmer.
But before you put on your running shoes and flee, there's a little
secret you should know. To put together a cutting-edge Web site, chock
full of all the latest bells and whistles, there's only one acronym you
really need to know: PHP Now, while you have almost certainly heard of
PHP, you may not be aware of just how powerful the language is, and how
much it can do for you..."
PHP 101 (part 2): Calling All Operators
The rest of the PHP operators (there are many), and simple form
By Vikram Vaswani.
"In the first part of this series, I gave you a brief introduction to
PHP, and how it fits into your Web application development environment.
I also taught you the basics of PHP variables, and showed you how to
add, multiply and concatenate them together. Now that you know the
basics, it's time to focus in on one of PHP's nicer features - its
ability to automatically receive user input from a Web form and convert
it into PHP variables. If you're used to writing Perl code to retrieve
form values in your CGI scripts, PHP's simpler approach is going to
make you weep with joy. So get that handkerchief out, and scroll on
Advanced PHP V5 Objects
By Matt Zandstra.
"Get introduced to more advanced and design-oriented PHP v5 features,
including object types, which allow for the decoupling of system
components, creating reusable, extensible, scalable code. You might
want to take a look at Getting started with objects with PHP V5, which
will give you the basics of classes and objects in PHP."
+09: STANDARDS, GUIDELINES & PATTERNS.
My Experiences with Web Standards
By Rob Dickerson.
"It's been about eighteen months since I first encountered Web
Web Standards, Part I: Conversion to Web Standards
By Rose T. Pruyne.
"Just having served on a panel that presented to Penn State Web
developers about converting to Web Standards, I'm reminded once again
that the biggest challenge with talking (or writing) about this subject
is figuring out what on earth can be said that already hasn't been
discussed six ways to Sunday."
Colour Contrast Check Tool
By Jonathan Snook.
"The Colour Contrast Check Tool allows to specify a foreground and a
background colour and determine if they provide enough of a contrast
'when viewed by someone having color deficits or when viewed on a black
and white screen'".
Open New Windows for PDF and other Non-Web Documents
By Jakob Nielsen.
"When using PC-native file formats such as PDF or spreadsheets, users
feel like they're interacting with a PC application. Because users are
no longer browsing a website, they shouldn't be given a browser UI."
Back to the Opening New Windows Issue?
By Shirley Kaiser.
"Open New Windows for PDF and other Non-Web Documents is Jakob
Nielsen's latest Alertbox article, dated August 29, 2005. Although he'd
previously stated not to force links to open new windows, he now feels
that you should indeed set links to open in new windows for PDF and
other non-Web documents. Even after reading this new article, I still
feel strongly about considering the website's target audience, letting
the user choose, and avoiding accessibility problems..."
Is 1024 OK?
By Jon Hicks.
"As a designer (coming from a print design background) I'm with Jason.
I would LOVE to think 'to hell with 800X600', and get that bigger
canvas to work on. However, I also know that not everyone maximizes
their window. They may have 1024, or much higher, but that's not to say
that they don't keep their browser windows at only 800px wide. For the
record I have mine in a widescreen letterboxy format- full width, but
leaving room so that I can see my Stattoo dock. That's what its all
about - everyone has their own preference."
A List Too Far Apart?
By Jeremy Keith.
"I have a problem with the fixed 1024 pixel wide layout of [the newly
redesigned] A List Apart. Now, don't get me wrong: I'm not saying that
they should have stuck with 800 pixels. Arguments have already started
raging about this with some people fighting for 800 and others
campaigning for 1024. To me, the whole debate seems pointless. Arguing
about 640, 800 or 1024 pixels is like arguing about whether Pepsi
tastes better than Coke when really, a nice glass of water would be
much more refreshing. The numbers game is a red herring. A big
fixed-width red herring. When you nail a layout to a set number of
pixels, you're bound to alienate some people. It's inevitable. The best
you can do is try to alienate the least number of people possible."
Changing (X)HTML page encoding to UTF-8
By Richard Ishida.
"Aimed at newcomers to internationalization who want to change the
encoding of their (X)HTML pages, this article provides an answer to the
question: How do I change the encoding of my (X)HTML pages to UTF-8?"
[Section one ends.]
++ SECTION TWO:
+13: 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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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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