[webdev] Web Design Update: November 15, 2005
lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Tue Nov 15 06:19:52 CST 2005
+++ WEB DESIGN UPDATE.
- Volume 4, Issue 21, November 15, 2005.
An email newsletter to distribute news and information about web design
++ISSUE 21 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.
07: INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE.
12: STANDARDS, GUIDELINES & PATTERNS.
16: What Can You Find at the Web Design Reference Site?
++ SECTION ONE: New references.
High Accessibility Is Effective Search Engine Optimization
By Andy Hagans.
"It's no coincidence that search engines love highly accessible
websites; in fact, by designing for accessibility, you're already using
effective search-engine optimization techniques. Andy Hagans explains
yet another reason to pay attention to accessibility."
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
Spacer Image - Disney Store's Number One Gift Idea This Christmas
By Mike Davies.
"The UK Disney Store pushed web standards into the limelight. It was an
imaginative blend of open standards and creative design. A site that
any designer could be proud of. Unfortunately, Disney has seen fit to
replace their successful site with a shambolic poor imitation."
An Open Letter to Disney Store UK
By Molly E. Holzschlag.
"I would write this to you directly via your site feedback page but it
is throwing Access database errors. The email appears to be down as
well. So instead, I'm going to write my letter here in a public forum
in the hopes that someone from your team sees it and takes heed. Your
so-called redesign is a travesty, a tragedy, and an embarrassment..."
Of Mice and Men
By Andy (Malarkey) Clarke.
"Over recent days I have received a number of emails from people asking
for my reaction to Disney Store UK's decision to move from valid and
semantic XHTML and AA-AAA WAI compliance to an invalid HTML site which
fails to meet Priority 1 accessibility guidelines..."
On Accessibility and Validity
By Matt May.
"Validity and accessibility guidelines are like matter and antimatter:
you probably don't want to be there when they collide."
A Principled Argument
By Matt May.
"The next draft of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0
probably will not require HTML content that conforms at Level A to be
fully valid. The following is my rationale for agreeing to this."
+02: CASCADING STYLE SHEETS.
One Clean HTML Markup, Many Layouts...
By Thierry Koblentz.
"It is this thread (title: "one template to rule them all") on the
CSS-Discuss List that initiated this article. The original post
included a link to a document that contained a set of images
representing different layouts, the question was: 'Is it possible to
have one HTML file, and style these pages this way only with CSS' So
here we go..."
In Search of the One True Layout
By Alex Robinson.
"Pure CSS-based layouts have come a long way but they still have
shortcomings...that fail to address certain design goals without
compromising the true separation of content and presentation. In short,
the problematic design goals are these...Total Layout
Flexibility...Equal Height Columns...Vertical placement of elements
across grids/columns...This article shows how to achieve each of these
goals, and then how to combine them, creating what could be called the
One True Layout"
By Eric A. Meyer.
"Recently, Alex Robinson published an article titled 'In Search of the
One True Layout', and it basically turns the conventional wisdom about
what CSS layouts can and can't accomplish on its ear. One of the
article's primary aims is nothing less than enabling multi-column
layout using no extra markup (beyond a div to enclose each column's
content) and allowing the columns to be in any document source order.
Impossible? No. It appears to have done just that in all current
browsers, and several non-current browsers as well."
Multi-Unit Any-Order Columns
By Eric A. Meyer.
"A way to use the Any Order Columns technique when the columns use
mixed units, such as percentages and ems or ems and pixels, in a single
Structuring CSS and Macromedia Labs Site Design
By Neil Straghalis.
"A few weeks ago we launched a new site - Macromedia Labs. It's a place
where we can post early software releases, documentation and samples,
and where developers can collaborate and contribute. You can read all
about it here, but I'd like to mention a few things about the site
design and how we put it together."
IE7: Sane and Rational?
By Ben Buchanan.
"I think it would have been much better to provide conditional comments
in the CSS rather than the page source...So why on earth was it not a
'sane and rational' approach?"
IE7 Conditional Comments
"In mid October, the IE Blog urged developers to stop using CSS hacks
to workaround IE's problems, and start relying on Microsoft's
proprietary conditional comments. I was mostly fine with the new
syntax, and it seemed practical enough considering that IE7 is looking
to address most of the reasons you'd hack in the first place. But in
the comments it became clear that some of you have discovered
non-trivial problems in working with conditional comments -- for
More Adaptations for Color Blindness
By Joe Clark.
"...Now, then: Ken Wakita and Kenta Shimamura have written a paper,
'SmartColor: Disambiguation Framework for the Colorblind,' which sets
out some algorithms to automatically convert colour in images (mostly
charts and illustrations) into analogues that colourblind people can
Colour Blindness on the Web
By Richard Rutter.
"Colour blindness has crept back on to the agenda recently. Joe Clark
recently pointed to SmartColor: Disambiguation Framework for the
Colorblind, a proposed algorithm for converting colours in a document
(or more likely an image) into colours that a colour blind person can
distinguish. Also doing the rounds is Etre's Colour Blindness Simulator
which enables you upload images to see how they look to some colour
blind users. The thing is, colour blindness on the Web isn't a big
deal. You do have to bear it mind (as I will show later on), but there
is no need to let it dominate any design decisions..."
"Color blindness, or color vision deficiency, in humans is the
inability to perceive differences between some or all colors that other
people can distinguish..."
Dreamweaver 8 Does Standards!
By Rachel Andrew.
"If you're reading this article, you probably already have an interest
in the subject of "Web standards," and are curious about the
application of standards in a site that's built with Dreamweaver."
Creating Accessible Tables for Data Using Dreamweaver 8
"Here's a basic overview of how to create accessible tables using
Macromedia Dreamweaver 8 Review
By Roger Johansson.
"...All in all, Dreamweaver 8 is a decent application, but its flaws
outweigh its benefits, at least for me. I find it especially hard to
deal with the unpolished GUI, the sluggishness, and the instability. So
I will not be spending my money on a Dreamweaver license until it
improves. This is just my personal opinion. Dreamweaver may be perfect
for you, so if you like it and feel it's worth the money, by all means
Dreamweaver TechNote: The Paste HTML option is missing from the
Dreamweaver 8 Edit menu
"In Macromedia Dreamweaver 8, under the Edit menu, the Paste HTML and
Copy HTML options are missing..."
+05: EVALUATION & TESTING.
Is Lab Usability Dead?
By Peter Merholz.
"...let's get out of our labs and conference rooms and into our users'
environments. It's becoming clear that it's the only way to truly
understand, and meet, their needs."
Design Choices Can Cripple a Website
By Nick Usborne.
"Do you test your designs? If not, Nick Usborne wants you to take
responsibility for your design choices and the very quantifiable effect
they can have on websites that are built for business."
Student Information Systems and Individuals with Disabilities Webcast
November 30, 2005.
"The National Center on Disability and Access to Education (NCDAE) will
host another in their series of webcasts with a focus for those in
education. A discussion will be held on the accessibility of student
information systems used for registration, grading, student services,
and financial aid. Join them Wednesday, November 30th, 2005 for the
live audio Webcast. The broadcast is free and will begin at 1PM
Mountain Daylight Savings Time (12:00PM Pacific; 2:00PM Central; 3:00PM
Eye Tracking Research and Applications
March 27-29, 2006.
San Diego, California U.S.A.
+07: INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE.
Information Architecture 2.0
By Dan Brown.
"The typical information architect thinks about structure - how one
item in a group relates to all the other items in the group and how
that group relates to all other groups. In the early days of
information architecture (IA), groups and their related items tended to
be well defined. For example, in the heyday of e-commerce, an
information architect translated a product catalog into a storefront on
the Web. Today, these problems seem old hat..."
By Jeremy Keith.
very powerful tools have been appearing lately. Sometimes though, you
don't need all the power and complexity that a fully-fledged logger
brings. Sometimes, you just want to know what's happening at a certain
point in your script - you might want to find out the value of a
particular variable, for instance. In those cases, the humble alert
function can be very handy."
AJAX: How to Handle Bookmarks and Back Buttons
By Brad Neuberg.
brings bookmarking and back button support to AJAX applications. By the
end of this tutorial, developers will have a solution to an AJAX
problem that not even Google Maps or Gmail possesses: robust, usable
bookmarking and back and forward behavior that works exactly like the
rest of the Web."
Ajax in Action. Chapter 6: The User Experience
By Dave Crane and Eric Pascarello with Darren James.
Excerpt from the book "Ajax in Action".
Interview with Matt May
By Ian Lloyd.
"Much of WCAG 1.0 is anchored to HTML as the dominant technology, and
expects textual documents as the delivery method. It's too spread out,
as well, with 14 guidelines and 68 checkpoints. WCAG 2.0 is more
technology-agnostic and wide-ranging, but with a more compact set of
guidelines. The Working Group wants to put everything they know out
there so that authors can understand how a problem impacts users with
different disabilities, what part of the process is failing the user,
how the problem can be fixed sufficiently in a number of technologies,
and why we took the approach that we did. It's a lot different from the
'do this, don't do that' mode of accessibility we see in laws such as
Section 508. But it will ultimately answer a lot of the whys individual
developers may have been afraid to ask. That's good, because it lets
them experiment, and improve on that knowledge. It also boils the
guidelines down into four driving principles, and explains in detail
how to meet those needs using various Web technologies. And that's
important in itself, because it removes the excuse that accessibility
is some kind of black magic that is incomprehensible to the outsider.
Every guideline exists for a reason, and all those reasons are now
Ambient Findability: Talking with Peter Morville
By Liz Danzico.
"Can we reasonably judge authority? How can we make good decisions in
the information age? How do we know enough to ask the right questions?
Peter Morville takes a moment to talk with us these and other potential
answers, his most recent book, the death of data, and our fascination
with the future.."
The Top 5 Red Flags of Software Development
By Jason Fried.
"1. Wouldn't it be easy to...(the hidden cost of change)..."
Rethinking Application Design
By Dirk Knemeye.
"...Our industry generally does not know how to design great user
experiences, so the blind are always leading the blind. This is
amplified when firms copy the methods of teams that have produced
successful products. Unfortunately, successful product design sometimes
occurs despite the structure and process of the design team-not because
of it. So What Should We Be Doing? Here are my recommendations, based
on working with and for numerous companies, and seeing success with my
How To: Anchor Text (Don't Click Here!)
By Matt Bailey.
"It never fails to amaze me when I browse sites. One of the most
critical factors on the page that affect everything from rankings,
accessibility and usability is overlooked. Many times it is abused to
the point of ridiculousness..."
Should Nav be on the Left or on the Right?
By Jared Spool.
"On the often interesting Interaction Design Association discussion
list, David Hatch from Macromedia asked if people liked their
navigation panels on the left side better than on right side."
By Tedd Sperling.
"The question has been asked numerous times, in the css forum, if there
is a way to use a variable from inside css and the answer has always
been 'No'. Well... technically, if you are using just css, then that
answer is correct. However, with just a minor amount of php code (7
lines), you can use variables in css."
PHP 101 (part 15): No News is Good News
By Vikram Vaswani.
"After the workout I gave you last time, you're probably either
chomping at the bit to build another PHP application or you've decided
to give up PHP programming and try growing cucumbers instead. If it's
the latter, you should stop reading right now, because I can guarantee
you that this concluding installment of PHP 101 has absolutely nothing
to teach you about vegetable farming. If it's the former, however, then
you're going to enjoy what's coming up. Over the next few pages, I'm
going to be building a simple RSS news aggregator using PHP, SQLite and
SimpleXML. With this news aggregator, you can plug into RSS news feeds
from all over the web, creating a newscast that reflects your needs and
interests for your website. The best part: it updates itself
automatically with the latest stories every time you view it!Come on
in, and let's get this show on the road!"
These Things I Know, PHP Tips
By Nick Schaffner.
"There is more than one way to achieve the same result when programming
in PHP. There are many shortcuts I wish someone had explained to me
when I began learning the language. Here are my favorites."
+12: STANDARDS, GUIDELINES & PATTERNS.
By John Allsopp.
"To my recent post on semantics, a couple of comments touched on the
wider issue (and one I have never really understood) that somehow by
standardizing, you stifle creativity. It's an argument I've heard for
many years in criticism of web standards, and one that I fail to see
any logic in. But I've never really seen it discussed in detail, and as
it simply won't go away, I want to address it here..."
Why Valid HTML Code is Important to Your Web Site
By Goran Mitic.
"Many webmasters overlook a very important aspect of web site
promotion: the validity of the HTML code."
Government Web Standards Usage: New Zealand
By Peter Krantz.
"In this article we have a look at government web sites in New Zealand.
Testing NZ government websites is interesting as there is an official
document, the e-government web guidelines, that regulate how they
should be made. Out of 280 tested sites 16 (5.7%) were using valid
HTML. However, 30 sites had between 1 and 5 errors. Read on for the
Colour Blindness Simulator [Beta]
"Use our Colour Blindness Simulator to reveal how your images may
appear to users with a variety of colour blindness conditions. Upload a
JPEG image of no more than 1000 pixels x 1000 pixels (100 KB filesize
or less) to see how colour blind users may see it."
Rapid Web Development and Testing with Firefox
By Leslie Franke.
Leslie's slide presentation showcases many useful extensions. They are
in my toolbox.
By Pabini Gabriel-Petit, Publisher and Editor in Chief.
"We are very pleased to welcome you to UXmatters - a Web magazine
created by and for UX professionals."
Graphic Design Plays a Minor Role on the Web
By Gerry McGovern.
"The best websites are highly functional. They are task-focused.
Graphic design has an important, though limited role. Don't try
and force the Web to be what it's not."
Graphic Design on The Web
By D. Keith Robinson.
"Gerry McGovern, a Web content expert, wrote a bit entitled Graphic
Design Plays A Minor Role On The Web. It's a short read that makes a
few good points. I think what he's saying is that 'visual' or 'graphic'
design should not be the focus of most Web sites. And to that point I
generally agree with him. However, to imply that 'style' or visual
graphic design isn't important on the Web at all is dead wrong in my
opinion....I feel that the best Web sites are usable, functional and
have a good visual aesthetic..."
Is Beauty The New Usability Attribute?
By Mark Hall and Kath Straub.
"Hassenzahl's studies suggest that the emotional aspects of the design
are important in attracting customers in the first place. Hedonic
properties around beauty clearly influence first impressions. However,
when getting stuff done matters, perceived usability - judged through
usage over time - is what matters most."
Usability Doesn't Have to be Ugly
By Gerry McGovern.
"There is a balance that needs to be struck between a website that is
truly functional and one that is elegant and stylish."
Weblog Usability: The Top Ten Design Mistakes
By Jakob Nielsen.
"Weblogs are often too internally focused and ignore key usability
issues, making it hard for new readers to understand the site and trust
Jakob Only Has Two Weblog Mistakes Right
By Garrick Van Buren.
"I read through Jakob Nielsen's Weblog Usability: The Top Ten Design
Mistakes. As someone with a couple of weblogs, I only agree with two of
his 'mistakes'. The rest of them have valid, strategic uses..."
In Praise of Web Experts
By Gerry McGovern.
"The Web is maturing. It needs more people like Jakob Nielsen who
propose, explain and defend rules. There is a best way to manage a
website. There is a best way to combine the talents of the editor with
the opinions of the audience. Rules will not restrict the future growth
of the Web. Rather,
they will allow it to truly mature and flourish."
Business Blog Web Design Mistakes
By Meryl Evans.
"With more companies adopting blogs, it's no surprise Jakob Nielsen
looks at the top ten blog usability design mistakes."
If You're Reading This, You Are a Low-Value Demographic
By Jeff Atwood.
"Jakob Nielsen may not be today's hip and trendy Web 2.0 fixture, but
he's still dispensing solid advice. Check out his Top Ten Blog Design
Mistakes...It's a great set of guidelines that I completely agree with.
However, it is missing one humongous mistake: disabling comments. You
don't have a blog until you allow public, two way communication between
the author and the reader. And when I say communication, I mean it: the
author has to actually read and even (gasp!) respond to the comments.
Otherwise you're just publishing content, like every other newspaper
since the printing press was invented..."
By Kevin Yank.
"XForms is a complex but powerful replacement for HTML forms that
relies heavily on cutting-edge XML technology. As a result of its
complexity, browsers have been typically slow to implement it. But with
working plugins for Internet Explorer and a pre-release extension now
available for Firefox, the time is right to give this technology
[Section one ends.]
++ SECTION TWO:
+16: 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
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