[webdev] Web Design Update: October 20, 2005
lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Thu Oct 20 06:18:52 CDT 2005
+++ WEB DESIGN UPDATE.
- Volume 4, Issue 17, October 20, 2005.
An email newsletter to distribute news and information about web design
++ISSUE 17 CONTENTS.
SECTION ONE: New references.
What's new at the Web Design Reference site?
New links in these categories:
02: CASCADING STYLE SHEETS.
05: EVALUATION & TESTING.
08: INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE.
13: STANDARDS, GUIDELINES & PATTERNS.
18: What Can You Find at the Web Design Reference Site?
++ SECTION ONE: New references.
How Do You Get Your Client to Pay For Accessibility?
By Gez Lemon.
"Accessibility isn't something you sell as an alternative; building
accessible websites is what separates you from those incapable of doing
their job correctly. Anything else is immoral. It's what gives you a
competitive advantage over your competitors. It lets your clients know
that they are dealing with a professional company that will ensure
their website is not only attractively promoting their corporate image,
but is usable by the widest possible audience. Who wants a shop in the
back street of some dingy town? Your clients want you to do what's
right by them, not be scared off thinking that accessibility is some
magical ingredient that's too expensive to implement..."
No, Your Website ISN'T AAA Accessible!
By Dan Zambonini.
"OK, maybe I'm misinterpreting what these checkpoints mean. But surely
the guidelines should have been written in "the clearest and simplest
language" with no room for ambiguity? Especially as the guidelines
(http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10/wai-pageauth.html) claim to be AAA
accessible? (Actually, even without me being awkward about this dodgy
argument, I'd claim that 'R&D' towards the top of the document
constitutes an acronym, that doesn't have an expansion in the HTML -
hence no checkpoint 4.2 compliance. Goes to show how difficult these
are to implement consistently.) Having said all of this, I actually
think that these guidelines are one of the most important web
publications of the last 10 years. No matter how some accessibility
experts may argue, they have provided invaluable guidance and
techniques for the millions of users who can't afford user testing.
Possibly more importantly, they have also raised the profile of
accessibility as a core attribute of the web - it isn't an addition,
but something that sits at the heart of what the web is. And, in the
end, whether you technically achieve an A, AA or AAA is irrelevant, as
long as you've made every effort to tackle as many of the accessibility
stumbling blocks as possible. I just wish that, some of the public
sector in particular, would view accessibility as a real-world problem,
and not a points-based award system."
+02: CASCADING STYLE SHEETS.
CSS Techniques Roundup - 20 CSS Tips and Tricks
By Pete Freitag.
"I never cease to be amazed at what problems can be solved with pure
CSS. Here are 20 CSS techniques, tips and tricks that you may find
By Dave Shea.
"Some thoughts on how to go about writing a CSS optimizer..."
Another inspirational CSS and Blog Design showcase site.
CSS Color Chart
By Shailesh N. Humbad.
"This page contains a neutral colors chart and a general-purpose color
chart. You can use the colors in the palettes with either HTML or CSS.
Click on the color code to select it, then you can copy and paste it.
Click on the Toggle button to convert from Hex to RGB and back. The
charts are printed in tabular fashion so you can narrow your browser
window with the palette and compare the colors to your design
Teaching Dreamweaver the Web Standards Way
By Sheri German.
"I have been teaching Dreamweaver in various training venues since
version 2. Each new upgrade adds more features and makes my job more
complex. How does a teacher help beginners make sense of an
increasingly overwhelming interface that includes seemingly endless
choices? My syllabus has changed a lot over the years, and this is what
I have learned: pare the syllabus to the absolute essentials. Subtract,
do not add. Aim for elegant simplicity. Focus on Web Standards. This
article gives teachers a syllabus they can use to help their beginning
students learn Dreamweaver within the framework of Web Standards...So
what can my students expect when they walk into class on day one? For
starters, they won't learn a thing about Dreamweaver! After I go over
my expectations and review the syllabus, I launch right in with a
little html. It saves a lot of time in the long run, and is the
straightest path to understanding CSS...As educators, we have a great
responsibility to start our students out with proper web development
Dreamweaver 8 Accessibility: Create Accessible Forms
"...Here's how to create accessible forms using Dreamweaver 8..."
Changes in Dreamweaver 8 Templates
By Stephanie Sullivan.
"I've seen a few confused posters on the various Dreamweaver forums
since the release of Dreamweaver 8 that relate to templates. These
templates were created in Dreamweaver MX or Dreamweaver MX 2004 and now
they're not acting/updating the same."
+05: EVALUATION & TESTING.
Recipe For an App Dev Disaster
Expect trouble when users don't have time to test drive your software.
In a nice post-mortem of a tortured CMS project, an anonymous developer
in InfoWorld describes how a lack of user testing nearly doomed the
effort. It turns out that --surprise, surprise -- the written
functional specifications didn't convey what the editors really needed.
Documents almost never can. With usability paramount for CMS success,
it behooves you and your content contributors to come up with a plan
their active participation in a more agile development process. If they
won't test screens out, or you don't give them a chance, there's
trouble ahead for everyone.
South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive
March 10-14, 2006.
Austin, Texas U.S.A.
The New Face of Flash
By Andy Budd.
"Some of you may be surprised that prior to developing an interest in
web standards, I was actually an ActionScript programmer. I used to
really enjoy building flash based games and application, although I
tried to steer clear of the ubiquitous 'skip intro'. However I became
increasing frustrated with the Flash development environment. By the
time Flash MX came out, ActionScript was a fairly reasonably formed
object oriented programming language. However all of your development
happened in an environment designed for visual animation. Frustrating
to say the least..."
+08: INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE.
The Web, Information Architecture, and Interaction Design
By Jonathan Korman.
"The impact of digital technology in all faces of our lives has meant a
proliferation of terms for the work people do to define digital
products and services. In this article, interaction designer Jonathan
Korman unpacks some of these distinctions to help product teams assign
the right people to the right jobs."
By Cameron Adams.
"Although you won't be able to get the full effect of my crazy spinning
bow tie and manic grin, you can download my presentation notes and
Web Development Trends for 2006
By Anil Dash.
"The Bottom Line...If you have a friend who's looking to change jobs,
or know a disgruntled person who's been laid off and Lou Dobbs has
convinced him to blame Indian engineers for it, send them this list,
and check back with them in a few months to see if they've taken the
time to learn some new skills. No whining, just go do some reading. Buy
some O'Reilly books or Google up some docs online, and then get
hacking. By the time you're good enough to start posting your sample
applications, employers will be searching for your blog just to find
the talent they need."
Navigation - Our Visitors' Travel Guide
By Chris Heilmann.
"...Navigation is one of the most important parts of the site; however,
the most important part of a page is the content. If our navigation
grabs the visitors' attention and distracts from the content, then it
failed its purpose. The content should determine the navigation, not
the other way around. This is easy to forget, as navigation is one of
the few things us web developers and designers can play with. At the
start of the project we have a rough idea of the sitemap, whereas the
content is not always ready or even planned out. It is up to us to tell
the client that the content is what people will look for and come for,
not how cool or usable the navigation is. The best navigation on the
web are the ones we cannot remember, but pointed us quickly to the
right place. If there is a lot of time and budget to be spent, then it
should go into proper search functionality and defensive measures - the
error pages, warning messages and information pages, not a singing and
PHP 101 (part 8): Databases and Other Animals
All about connecting to a MySQL database from PHP, using the mysql or
By Vikram Vaswani.
"In this issue of PHP 101, I'm going to show you how to use PHP to
extract data from a database, and use that data to dynamically build a
Web page. In order to try out the examples in this tutorial, you'll
need a working MySQL installation, which you can obtain from the MySQL
Web site at http://www.mysql.com/. If you have some knowledge of SQL
(Structured Query Language, the language used to interact with a
database server) you'll find it helpful, but it's not essential."
PHP 101 (part 9): SQLite My Fire!
Introducing another database: SQLite.
By Vikram Vaswani.
"Built-in SQLite support is new to PHP 5.0, and offers users a
lightweight database system that is fast, efficient and gets the job
done. Since it's enabled by default in PHP 5.0, it provides a viable
alternative to MySQL; you can use it out of the box, without spending
time on version checks and library downloads; just install PHP 5 and
start typing. That's why I'm devoting a whole tutorial to it - so get
out of bed, make yourself some coffee and let's get started!"
PHP 101 (part 10): A Session In The Cookie Jar
Sessions and cookies - how to keep track of visitors to your site.
By Vikram Vaswani.
"...while built-in database support makes programming with PHP easy, it
isn't the only thing that makes PHP so popular. An easy-to-use XML API
and new exception handling mechanism (in PHP 5), support for pluggable
modules, and built-in session management are just some of the many
other features that make PHP rock. And all these capabilities are going
to be explored, in depth, right here in this very series, if you can
just find it in yourself to hang around a little longer. So close your
eyes, take a deep breath, and read on to find out all about this
tutorial's topic: sessions and cookies..."
PHP Form Validation System: An Object-Oriented Approach
By Mike Weiner.
A PHP equivalent of Struts ActionForms for validating form data.
+13: STANDARDS, GUIDELINES & PATTERNS.
An Open Letter to WaSP
By Robert Nyman and Vlad Alexander.
"...We therefore ask that WaSP put together a task force to create a
Web Standards Charter. The Charter will define what Web Standards are
and recommend a single implementation approach. When necessary the
Charter will be updated as dictated by the current state of the art and
the latest best practices. The Web Standards community will then be
able to direct newcomers to the Charter as a solid starting point from
which they can proceed to implement standards-compliant projects with
confidence. Once they have gained confidence, newcomers can join us in
ongoing debates about Web Standards, adding to the strength and
diversity of our community."
Government Web Standards Usage: USA
By Peter Krantz.
"This is the first in a series of articles where we look at how
government organisations use web standards. Using the mass validation
tool from a previous article Validating an entire site, we have a look
at our first contestant: USA. The result: only 14 of 546 government web
sites tested use valid HTML."
"ATutor is an Open Source Web-based Learning Content Management System
(LCMS) designed with accessibility and adaptability in mind.
Administrators can install or update ATutor in minutes, and develop
custom templates to give ATutor a new look. Educators can quickly
assemble, package, and redistribute Web-based instructional content,
easily retrieve and import prepackaged content, and conduct their
courses online. Students learn in an adaptive learning environment."
ATalker add-on for ATutor
"ATalker is a Web-based text-to-speech add-on for ATutor, based on the
Festival text-to-speech system. Using synthesized speech, ATalker can
read text out loud over the Web. With the ATalker Theme installed, the
ATutor interface and feedback messages can be read out loud. ATalker
can currently produce English and Spanish voices. The potential for
many other languages is available through the Mbrola Project."
Typography and the User Interface
By Daniel Kuo.
"While processing speed and computational flexibility have grown at
incredible rates, our displays, the most human-facing elements of our
digital lives, lag behind. Visual designer Daniel Kuo explores the
issues related to selecting fonts that don't just look good on paper,
but that work on a wide variety of display qualities."
Top Ten Web Design Mistakes of 2005
"The oldies continue to be goodies -- or rather, baddies -- in the list
design stupidities that irked users the most in 2005."
The Struggles of Having an Elastic Layout
By Robert Nyman.
For the moment, I'm working on a fairly big project where the interface
design will be elastic. What do I mean by elastic? Basically, there are
three ways one can choose to design the interfaces relation to the
visitors resolution and web browser window size.
By Christian Montoya.
"The purpose of Liquid Designs is to promote the use of liquid layouts
in CSS based design. There are a lot of gallery websites out there, and
most of the websites featured are less than 800 pixels wide, while a
few are 1000 pixels wide...Liquid Designs exists to showcase those
websites that have succeeded at liquid design, and serve as a resource
to those exploring it. Liquid Designs includes layouts that are purely
liquid (also called fluid), mixed liquid and fixed, and progressive."
Free Usability Advice
"The 'Free Usability Advice' weblog is a service provided by the design
and usability experts at Expero Inc., creators of user experience
solutions for software products and websites."
The More Things Change
By Micah Dubinko.
"In the final XML-Deviant column, Micah Dubinko offers a retrospective
of XML and discusses some of the enduring topics of debate in the
[Section one ends.]
++ SECTION TWO:
+18: 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.]
+ SUBSCRIPTION INFO.
WEB DESIGN UPDATE is available by subscription. For information on how
to subscribe and unsubscribe please visit:
The Web Design Reference Site also has a RSS 2.0 feed for site updates.
+ TEXT EMAIL NEWSLETTER (TEN).
As a navigation aid for screen readers we do our best to conform to the
accessible Text Email Newsletter (TEN) guidelines. Please let me know
if there is anything else we can do to make navigation easier. For TEN
guideline information please visit:
+ 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
More information about the Webdev