[webdev] Web Design Update: February 12, 2006
lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Sun Feb 12 07:32:51 CST 2006
+++ WEB DESIGN UPDATE.
- Volume 4, Issue 34, February 12, 2006.
An email newsletter to distribute news and information about web design
++ISSUE 34 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.
07: INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE.
12: STANDARDS, GUIDELINES & PATTERNS.
16: What Can You Find at the Web Design Reference Site?
++ 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?..."
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
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..."
+02: CASCADING STYLE SHEETS.
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..."
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..."
+04: EVALUATION & TESTING.
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?
"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
April 1, 2006.
Niagara Falls, New York U.S.A.
Can Flash be Considered Accessible Content?
"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
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..."
+07: INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE.
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."
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
+12: STANDARDS, GUIDELINES & PATTERNS.
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."
By Andy Mutton.
Free Firefox extension. "Screengrab saves entire webpages as images."
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)
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.]
++ 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.]
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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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