[webdev] Web Design Update: February 12, 2006

Laura Carlson lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Sun Feb 12 07:32:51 CST 2006

- Volume 4, Issue 34, February 12, 2006.

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:

06: FLASH.
11: PHP.
13: TOOLS.

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

[Contents ends.]

++ SECTION ONE: New references.


National Federation of the Blind v. Target
By Disability Rights Advocates.
"The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) has filed a class action 
suit in California's Alameda County Courthouse against Target 
Corporation, the nationwide discount retailer which operates more than 
1,300 stores in 47 states..."

Blind Cal Student Sues Target
By Henry K. Lee.
"Suit charges retailer's Web site cannot be used by the sightless."

Taking Aim at Target(.com)
By Derek Featherstone.
"Ten months is more than enough time to fix the issues, or at least get 
started doing so. (Word to the wise - if you are making accessibility 
changes to your site based on feedback - make sure you document your 
process so that you can at least show that you're doing something to 
address the issues, and if you are doing it incrementally make some 
sort of public announcement with each improvement you make, ok? You 
know - that would make good business sense.) here's quite a few areas 
that are described as problematic in the official NFB v Target case 
documents but the main points are..."

Staying on Target
By Derek Featherstone.
"A lot can happen in 24 hours. In the time since yesterday's post, 
Taking Aim at Target(.com), the Target.com web site has been changed to 
address at least the image based submit buttons on the Target Pharmacy 
sign in page. It no longer requires a mouse click to submit the forms. 
They literally fixed this overnight. If it took so little time to fix, 
why now and not ten months ago when the US National Federation of the 
Blind originally complained to Target?..."

Photosensitive Epilepsy
By Gez Lemon.
"Photosensitive epilepsy is a form of epilepsy that is triggered by 
visual stimuli, such as flickering or high contrast oscillating 
patterns, and it's believed that around 3% to 5% of people with 
epilepsy are susceptible to photosensitive material. Photosensitive 
epilepsy is usually triggered where the flicker rate is between 16Hz to 
25Hz, although it's not uncommon for seizures to be triggered by 
flicker rates between 3Hz to 60Hz. The condition most commonly effects 
children, and is usually developed between the ages of 9 and 15 years, 
and most prevalent in females."

Zoom Zoom, Layouts for Visual Impairment
By Alastair Campbell and Leonie Watson.
Alastair and Leonie's Techshare 2005 presentation.

Zoom Layouts Update
By Joe Clark.
"Right, so zoom layouts have had the better part of a year to take off, 
and they haven't. That's OK; they are an experimental Web standard 
within established Web standards, and it is now demonstrable that most 
Web sites are not standards-compliant. Zoom layouts remain a tool that 
can be..."

Seven Accessibility Mistakes (Part 2)
By Christian Heilmann.
"In this final installment of his two-part series, contributing author 
Christian Heilmann shares habits four, five, six and seven of the seven 
habits that fail to deliver accessibility."

Logo Claims about Website Accessibility belie Reality
By Fraser Hamilton.
"The presence of an accessibility statement or logo on a website does 
not necessarily give an accurate picture of that website's 
accessibility, according to research conducted by Helen Petrie, 
Director of Research at London-based user experience consultancy 
Designed for All..."


CSS 3 Column Layout - the Holy Grail!?
By Stefan Mischook.
"...It gets me 'hot under the collar' when I see articles that promote 
the use of CSS hacks - this is bad practice for obvious reasons. I've 
been warning about this for some time before the IE7 problem. None of 
these web standards zealots paid me much attention before the IE7 
problem came to light; and now after this problem has been well 
publicized, it seems that these people still have their heads in the 

Epicycles: Are Complex CSS Layouts the New Nested Tables?
By Bruce Lawson.
"A discussion piece on whether sometimes CSS layouts are more 
complicated than their table-based equivalents, and whether CSS as it 
stands is up to the jobs we need it to do..."

What's New for CSS in Beta 2 Preview?
By Markus Mielke.
"We have heard all your feedback asking us for full CSS compliance. 
With the now public available Beta 2 Preview build on XP, we get a big 
step closer to this goal. Chris talked about our priorities for IE7 
before, but I want to give more detail on our work with CSS..."

CSS Hacks in IE7
By Andy Budd.
"The closer Internet Explorer 7 gets to an official launch, the more 
concerned the IE dev team seem to be about the effect of CSS hacks. It 
started simply enough, with a few passing remarks that certain CSS bugs 
had been fixed and therefore hacks that use those bugs wouldn't work on 
IE7. As things have progressed, these remarks started to sound a little 
more worried while the last few remarks actually sound seriously 

IE7 Beta 2 CSS Bugs
By Al Sparber.
"Microsoft has released a public preview of IE7 Beta2. Please note the 
language. The released browser is not Beta2 - it is a preview of Beta2. 
It has CSS bugs. This section will endeavor to demonstrate some of the 
bugs and provide temporary solutions..."

Charting IE7b2
By Eric A. Meyer.
"So IE7 beta 2 is out. As you might expect in a beta, it has some 
things that don't work as one might hope, whether due to long-standing 
behaviors or brand new bugs. I've said it before, and I'll say it 
again: don't panic..."

By css-discuss Wiki.

CSS Standards Compliance in Internet Explorer 7
By Jennifer Sullivan Cassidy.
"There has been much anticipation and intense hype surrounding the 
release of Internet Explorer 7. Improvements range from better security 
issues to customization of user features; but the excitement in some 
web developers has been prompted by the compliancy standards of CSS 
that IE 7 embraces."

Writing Cross-Browser CSS
By Roger Johansson.
"Almost without exception, web professionals new to CSS run into 
problems trying to get their CSS to work as expected in all browsers. 
It doesn't have to be like that though."


Applying CSS from Screen to Print to Handheld - Part 5: Cross-Browser 
By Adrian Senior.
"The previous parts in this series have shown you how to style your 
content. Now it is time to make your design compatible across 

Applying CSS from Screen to Print to Handheld - Part 6: Simplified 
Design and Printability
By Adrian Senior.
"In Part 6 of this series, you will move on to creating a style sheet 
for the print media type."

Is There Room For Another Web Editor From Adobe?
By Vicki Berry.
"...I think that Stephanie Sullivan and Al Sparber hit the nail on the 
head. Stef said that even a tool that outputs standards-compliant and 
accessible code in the hands of an experienced and knowledgeable 
professional will in all likelihood churn out horrible code when used 
by someone who doesn't understand HTML. Al pointed out that 'easy' 
editors (ones that don't require the user to know or understand HTML) 
actually prohibit or at least deter a user from learning. It seems to 
me, however, that there are ample editors on the market that already 
churn out 'easy' and horrible code, so I can't see any need for 
another. However, I'm wondering if the idea of a 'Dreamweaver Elements' 
does, in fact, have merit. It need not necessarily (in fact, should 
not) be a tool that does everything for the user..."


Get Out of Your Lab, and Into Their Lives
By Peter Merholz.
"I want to reiterate that nothing proposed here is new or 
revolutionary. In fact, you'd be hard-pressed to find a research 
technique more rudimentary than 'watch people in their own 
environments.' But there's this unfortunate inertia in design practice 
that leads to the continuing use of ill-suited methods. Shake off your 
complacency and engage with your users more honestly. You'll be amazed 
at what you find."

Eye Tracking as Silver Bullet for Usability Evaluations?
By Mark.
"When reading articles on usability evaluation, talking to other 
usability professionals and clients, one can get the impression that 
eye tracking is perceived as silver bullet for conducting usability 
evaluations. After all, the method allows us to directly assess how 
users perceive an interface, which parts they pay attention to and 
which parts they miss. And all this just by getting them seated in 
front of the interface and tracking their gaze. Right?...So, eye 
tracking is no silver bullet for investigating usability issues. It may 
be an excellent marketing instrument, but inappropriately used, it may 

+05: EVENTS.

Waterfall 2006
April 1, 2006.
Niagara Falls, New York U.S.A.

Geek Cruises

+06: FLASH.

Can Flash be Considered Accessible Content?
By Xwerx.
"In 2000, Macromedia became aware of its obligation to make their flash 
player more accessible to all users and developed an accessibility 
development kit for Flash 5. This became common to all versions with 
the release of Flash MX in 2004 and was improved with Flash 8 in 2005. 
Currently, Flash uses Microsoft Active Accessibility, MSAA, to send 
information to screen readers and other devices. The Flash player makes 
a list of the objects being displayed and sends them to the MSAA data 
tree, which can then be read out when they are encountered onscreen. As 
screen content changes, the MSAA is updated and the screen reader 
restarts again."

Limoges, France: The Vision, The Joy, The Pain
By Molly E. Holzschlag.
"...Everything, and I do mean everything was done in Flash. Out of 
about 20 competitors, only one had valid XHTML and CSS along with 
Flash. Everything else was either pure Flash or table-based layouts 
with Flash embedded just about everywhere. The ubiquitous Flash design 
isn't unreasonable I suppose, as the standards message is just now 
getting into this particular conference, only in its second year. And, 
the main man fostering the competition is Joshua Davis, who is a 
passionate designer well known for his interest in Flash, and his deep 
understanding of the Web. That the group even brought out a posse of 
standards-oriented people and that our sessions were well attended is 
truly a comfort. But..."


Live by the Mockup, Die by the Mockup
By Luke Wroblewski.
'The mockup can either sell your design or plummet you into a cyclical 
tunnel of churn. That's why, like it or not, interface designers often 
live and die by the mockup.'


Ajax and Progressive Enhancement
By Jason Landry.
"...A quick way to improve the process is make it work for everyone by 
default it and then, if your browser is up to the task, allow for some 
enhanced behavior. This type of development is usually known as 
‘progressive enhancement‘: progressively enhance the experience based 
on the abilities of the browser..."


Mediocrity by 'Areas of Improvement'
By Kathy Sierra.
"How many times in your life (school, career, relationships) have you 
been told about your 'areas of improvement'? How much time and energy 
have you spent working on those areas? If you're a manager, how much 
emphasis do you put on those areas during a performance review? Maybe 
instead of working on our weaknesses, we should be enhancing and 
exploiting our strengths...What if let ourselves (and those we manage) 
spend a lot more energy in the areas where we are--or could 
be--amazing? I suggest taking a very hard look at the 'areas of 
improvement' list and see if we can rearrange the context so that those 
things become less important..."

Interview with Don Norman
By Bjoern Hartmann.
"My goal is to put structure to the field of design. Design has no real 
theoretical structure and I'm trying to find one."


Alphabetized Links Are Random Links
By Jared Spool.
"Unless you can be absolutely sure that users will know the exact terms 
in your list, alphabetical order is just random order, Jared thinks."

Search Should Work Like Magic
By James Robertson.
"Thanks to Google, intranet users expect to be able to type in a word 
(or two) and find the page they are looking for, preferably in the 
first few results."

+11: PHP.

Using PHP Includes
By Christopher Jason.
"By using PHP server-side includes, you can greatly increase the 
scalability and ease of maintenance of your Website."

String Manipulation in PHP
By Christopher Jason.
The ability to manipulate string variables in PHP is extremely helpful. 
This tutorial will outline some of the more common situations you'll 
encounter when working with PHP string variables.

Formatting Money / Currency using PHP
By Christopher Jason.
"As a web developer, there will come a time when you'll need to work 
with money. Whether it's for a fully operational shopping cart or a 
simple calculator, PHP makes this an incredibly simple process."

How Do I Print the Date Using PHP?
By Christopher Jason.
"PHP offers an excellent built-in function for printing dates. Here are 
some of the most common date formats and how you can print them using 


Web Standards. Should my Business Website be Compliant?
By Thomas Ashworth.
"Web standards is the new buzz phrase on the web. What are web 
standards? Web standards are basically the use of correct web coding 
standards as laid out by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The web 
standards which are of most concern to modern business are XHTML and 
CSS coding practices. In the words of the W3C, 'The XHTML family is the 
next step in the evolution of the internet.' Should your website 

Failed Redesigns Update
By Joe Clark.
"...I should be rather proud if I played a small part in killing off 
any taste for the abominable sites these people come up with. In 2006, 
it simply is no longer cool to like these kinds of sites and hold them 
up as some kind of exemplar. Phony Beatlemania has bitten the dust. 
Right. Shall we update our list?..."

IE 7 Preview
By Eric Tribou.
"So I bit the bullet and downloaded the IE 7 Beta 2 Preview. First 
thing: this overwrites your old IE 6 install. If you want to be able to 
use IE 6, do not install this preview."

+13: TOOLS.

By Andy Mutton.
Free Firefox extension. "Screengrab saves entire webpages as images."

Page Saver
By Pearl Crescent.
"...a free extension for Mozilla Firefox that lets you save an image of 
a web page to a file in PNG format."

This online tool takes podcast feeds, runs voice recognition over them 
to produce a full text version of each podcast, and then provides a 
full text search capability.


Five Simple Steps to Typesetting on the web: Introduction
By Mark Boulton.
"It's been quite a while since the last Simple Steps series, but this 
new series of articles has been brewing for a while. Before I go into 
the first installment I'd like to clarify what exactly I mean by 
Typesetting and how that differs from Design, Typographic Design or 
Typography. Each 'Simple Step' will be just that, clear simple rule(s) 
to follow..."

Five Simple Steps to Typesetting on the Web - Dashes
By Mark Boulton.
"In this installment I'll be talking about three dashes which are often 
used, but frequently misused. The Hyphen, the En Dash and the Em Dash."


Selling Older Users Short
By Susan Weinschenk.	
"Susan Weinschenk, Ph.D., CUA, Chief of Technical Staff and Director of 
Training, looks at recent research on the use of the Internet and 
hand-held devices by older adults and the impact on user interface 

Is Your Content a Waste of Time and Money?
By Gerry McGovern.
"Most content gets in the way. It's poor quality. Nobody's
interested in it, except those who create it. How much of this
sort of content are you publishing?..."

Users Interleave Sites and Genres
By Jakob Nielsen.
"When working on business problems, users flitter among sites, 
alternating visits to different service genres. No single website 
defines the user experience on its own."

Interface Design, Web Portals and Children
By Andrew Large and Jamshid Beheshti.
"Children seek information in order to complete school projects on a 
wide variety of topics, as well as to support their various leisure 
activities. Such information can be found in print documents, but 
increasingly young people are turning to the Web to meet their 
information needs. In order to exploit this resource, however, children 
must be able to search or browse digital information through the 
intermediation of an interface. In particular, they must use Web-based 
portals that in most cases have been designed for adult users. 
Guidelines for interface design are not hard to find, but typically 
they also postulate adult rather than juvenile users. The authors 
discuss their own research work that has focused upon what young people 
themselves have to say about the design of portal interfaces. They 
conclude that specific interface design guidelines are required for 
young users rather than simply relying upon general design guidelines, 
and that in order to formulate such guidelines it is necessary to 
actively include the young people themselves in this process."

[Section one ends.]


+16: 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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