[webdev] Web Design Update: October 27, 2005
lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Thu Oct 27 06:21:04 CDT 2005
+++ WEB DESIGN UPDATE.
- Volume 4, Issue 18, October 27, 2005.
An email newsletter to distribute news and information about web design
++ISSUE 18 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 & TESTING.
06: INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE.
11: STANDARDS, GUIDELINES & PATTERNS.
15: What Can You Find at the Web Design Reference Site?
++ SECTION ONE: New references.
By Derek Featherstone.
"The materials in this site formed the basis of a presentation at Web
Essentials 05, in Sydney, Australia delivered by Derek Featherstone."
Creating Accessible Forms
"...Forms can also pose accessibility problems. When we talk about the
accessibility of forms, we are usually referring about their
accessibility to screen readers and the visually impaired. People with
other types of disabilities generally are less affected by faulty forms
that are missing some of the HTML accessibility features. It should be
noted, however, that everyone benefits from a well-organized form,
especially those with cognitive disabilities. Visual layout can be
important to those who have sight. The less explanation that a form
needs, the better. Still, the focus of this exercise is mainly to make
a form that can be read by a screen reader."
Form Help Without Popups
By Gez Lemon.
"Thrusting new windows upon visitors of your site is frowned upon, as
it goes against device independence by assuming a windowed environment.
One situation where developers feel that a new window is appropriate is
with web forms. If the visitor requires help on a form field, a new
window saves the visitor the trouble of having to leave the form, and
possibly losing the data they have entered. This article illustrates a
scripting technique to get around the problem without having to open a
Lists and Screen Readers
By Mel Pedley.
"Use ordered lists by all means but please stay away from roman
numerals. No matter how attractive they may appear within a graphical
browser, they will almost certainly reduce your carefully marked up
text to audio garbage within a screen reader."
+02: CASCADING STYLE SHEETS.
A CSS Framework
By Mike Stenhouse.
"In my Modular CSS article I documented the possibility of breaking
down stylesheets into components that could be reused across projects.
All well and good. The next logical step is to extend this to become a
CSS framework, allowing rapid development of sites with pre-written and
tested components. All that's really required to produce this is a set
of naming conventions and a flexible base template..."
Maintainability, a.k.a. The CSS Elephant
"Now that even Slashdot has made the move to CSS it's safe to say that
the CSS advocacy battle is slowly being won. It's time to talk about
the elephant in the corner of the room: stylesheet maintainability."
By Nathan Steiner.
"Simon Willison put a call out for advice on creating maintainable CSS.
Here are some collected thoughts on the matter, please keep in mind
that quite a bit of this is just personal preference."
My Top Ten CSS Tricks
By Trenton Moss.
"For years, designers have manipulated CSS to meet their needs. Now
Trenton has compiled his favorite tips to help you get more out of your
designs. From page-width, the text-transform command, and IE-specific
tricks, to hints on creating CSS documents for hand-held devices, these
powerful tips will save you time and hassle."
Introduction to Designing with CSS--Part 1: Understanding CSS Design
By Adrian Senior.
"Use CSS to style XHTML page elements and lay out pages, and learn
about the importance of semantic markup...Note: This article has been
updated for Dreamweaver 8."
Introduction to Designing with CSS--Part 2: Defining Style Properties
and Working with Floats
By Adrian Senior.
"Learn how to set up default properties for your HTML elements and
override them with specificity...Note: This article has been updated
for Dreamweaver 8."
Using Insert Div Tag in Dreamweaver MX 2004
By Virginia DeBolt.
"One of the impediments to taking full advantage of CSS for users of
Dreamweaver in the past has been the lack of an way to create a div
with anything but the Draw Layer tool. In Dreamweaver MX 2004,
Macromedia added a tool called Insert Div Tag for just that purpose.
Unfortunately, most of the books I have seen that describe the use of
Dreamweaver MX 2004 are not giving enough information about how Insert
Div Tag can be used. This tutorial is meant to fill the gap."
+04: EVALUATION & TESTING.
Time Budgets for Usability Sessions
By Jakob Nielsen.
"Up to 40 percent of precious testing time is wasted while users engage
in nonessential activities. Far better to focus on watching users
perform tasks with the target interface design."
November 11, 2005.
Brighton, United Kingdom
Web Essentials 05 Podcasts
If you missed Web Essentials 05 in Sydney, you can listen to many of
the sessions. Download their podCasts and tune into a web development
conference 'by developers for developers'.
+06: INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE.
By Peter Morville.
This article talks about the subjects of Wikipedia, folksonomy, tag
clouds, and social facts. It raises issues of accuracy, objectivity,
currency, and the judgment of authority.
By Guyon Roche.
"One of the obstacles that programmers encounter when developing with
different programming languages is that each language has its own
"culture" and ways of getting things done. Sometimes different
instances of the same language can suffer from this malady. This adds a
complexity to software development that would be a waste of time if it
weren't so necessary. In the C++ programming language (where I spend
the other half of my programming life), a solution to this kind of
problem has been developed, standardized and wholeheartedly adopted by
developers worldwide. It's called the Standard Template Library or STL
for short. I won't go into too much detail about the specification of
the STL as a quick search on the Internet will bring up numerous sites
implementation of the STL and that is what I will focus on."
By Guyon Roche.
"The list collection is organized as a linked list of nodes that hold
references to the values stored in the list..."
By Guyon Roche.
"In the first two articles of this series I introduced three
and deque. This week, I explore the magic of iterators and introduce a
new class of sorted collection that includes set, map, multiset and
Ten Questions for Patrick Lauke
By Russ Weakley.
"Patrick Lauke talks about photography, CSS, the Zen Garden,
SMIL and the WASP accessibility Task Force."
Interviews: Jeremy Keith
By Aaron Gustafson.
"A lot of Web developers who tried DHTML years ago got burned, and
theyre wary of getting burned again. Applying the term DOM scripting
it from the stigma of old-school DHTML."
Never Get Involved in a Land War in Asia (or Build a Website for No
By Greg Storey.
"If you don't know what the website you're working on is supposed to
_do_, it's going to be really hard to succeed. Greg Storey offers a
simple web strategy development process for everyone."
Ambient Findability: Findability Hacks
By Peter Morville.
"In this excerpt from his new book, Ambient Findability, Peter Morville
explains why findability is a required element of good design and
engineering--and what that means for you."
The 7-11 Milk Experiment: How Does Site Design Affect Revenue?
By Christine Perfetti.
"In our latest study, users only purchased 30% of the time! So, what
was happening here? We found that on most of the sites, users just
couldn't find what they were looking for and that the sites
organization was to blame."
Milk vs. Wood Screws
By Eric A. Meyer.
"Over at UIEs Brain Sparks, the brilliant and lovely Christine
Perfetti talked recently about the 7-11 Milk test, and how web sites
fail this test 70% of the time. I'm glad to see that they intend to do
more research on the topic, because I think theres a lot more to the
story than just buying milk, and I hope thats factored into the future
research. Buying on web sites, to me, is not really a 7-11 milk
purchase. Its more like trying to buy a wood screw for a specific
purpose at Home Depot when I'm used to buying them at a corner
PHP 101 (part 11): Sinfully Simple
An introduction to PHP's easiest method for dealing with XML. (PHP 5
By Vikram Vaswani.
"Unless you've been hiding in a cave for the last few years, you've
heard about XML - it's the toolkit that more and more Web publishers
are switching to for content markup. You may even have seen an XML
document in action, complete with user-defined tags and markup, and you
might have wondered how on earth one converts that tangled mess of code
into human-readable content. The answer is, not easily. While PHP has
included support for the two standard methods of parsing (read: making
sense of) XML - SAX and DOM - since version 4.0, the complexity and
inherent geekiness of these methods often turned off all but the most
dedicated XML developers. All that has changed, however, with PHP 5.0,
which introduces a brand-spanking-new XML extension named SimpleXML
that takes all (and I do mean all) the pain out of processing XML
documents. Keep reading, and find out how. "
PHP 101 (part 12): Bugging Out
Basic error handling in PHP 4 and PHP 5.
By Vikram Vaswani.
"Even the best developers make mistakes sometimes. That's why most
programming languages - including PHP - come with built-in capabilities
to catch errors and take remedial action. This action can be as simple
as displaying an error message, or as complex as sending the site
administrator an email with a complete stack trace. To make it easier
to do this, PHP comes with a full-featured error handling API that can
be used to trap and resolve errors. In addition to deciding which types
of errors a user sees, you can also replace the built-in error handling
mechanism with your own custom (and usually more creative) functions.
If you're using PHP 5, you get a bonus: a spanking-new exception model,
which lets you wrap your code in Java-like try-catch() blocks for more
efficient error handling. In this edition of PHP 101, I'm going to
discuss all these things, giving you a crash course in how to add
error-handling to your PHP application. Keep reading - this is pretty
Core Web Application Development with PHP and MySQL, Part 1
By Marc Wandschneider.
This content is excerpted from Chapter 13 of the new book, "Core Web
Application Development with PHP and MySQL."
+11: STANDARDS, GUIDELINES & PATTERNS.
W3C Compliance and SEO
By Dave Davies.
"With more and more competition for top search engine positioning every
advantage helps. This article outlines how W3C compliance can help your
SEO efforts (and visitor experience) and provides resources to help you
bring your site into compliance."
By Eric A. Meyer.
"Slashdot, the venerable geek portal so infamous for its ability to
kill web servers with a single link that the sites name is a verb
meaning 'to bring a server grinding to a halt'."
Back Links Analyzer
By Aaron Wall.
"A free link popularity / link analysis tool. It shows what anchor text
is linking into a page or site...System Requirements: Backlink Analyzer
currently is a Windows only application. Going forward I am hoping to
make it system independent. "
Is Home Page Design Relevant Anymore?
By Jared Spool.
"...In studying users visiting sites, we learned a long time ago that
there are only two important functions for a home page: 1.) The home
page delivers the content to the user that they are seeking, such as
the top story on CNN, OR 2.) The home page provides strong scent to
those pages that contain the content the user seeks. Those are the only
two things users care about on a home page..."
University Websites Come of Age
By Gerry McGovern.
"University websites have matured significantly over the last 2-3
years. There are fewer pictures of buildings and smiling faces,
and greater focus on helping students decide why they should
By Jakob Nielsen.
"Macintosh-style interaction design has reached its limits. A new
paradigm, called results-oriented UI, might well be the way to empower
users in the future."
Beware of False Prophets...
By Peter Merholz.
"Causing a buzz among folks who design websites and software is Jakob's
latest Alertbox 'R.I.P. WYSIWYG'...What not mentioned until the very
end (after the content) is that a Design Research Lead is speaking at
the User Experience event on the Results-Oriented UI. By not mentioning
it at the outset, it feels like Jakob is marketing Microsoft in his
Alertbox to promote his workshop. And I strongly question this part..."
Scary Download Times at Halloween Sites
By Andy King.
"We test five top Halloween shopping sites for speed and accessibility.
Ghouls, goblins, and usability gotchas await visitors brave enough to
browse these haunted home pages. Pull up a crypt, we'll leave the
fright on for you."
HOWTO Avoid Being Called a Bozo When Producing XML
By Henri Sivonen.
"There seem to be developers who think that well-formedness is awfully
hard?if not impossible?to get right when producing XML programmatically
and developers who can get it right and wonder why the others are so
incompetent. I assume no one wants to appear incompetent or to be
called names. Therefore, I hope the following list of dos and don'ts
helps developers to move from the first group to the latter...This
document focuses on the Unicode layer, the XML 1.0 layer and the
Namespaces in XML layer. Getting higher layers like XHTML and Atom
right are outside the scope of this document. Also, anything served as
text/html is outside the scope of this document, although the methods
described here can be applied to producing HTML. In fact, doing so is
even a good idea."
[Section one ends.]
++ SECTION TWO:
+15: 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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