[webdev] Web Design Update: December 14, 2006
lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Thu Dec 14 06:26:10 CST 2006
+++ WEB DESIGN UPDATE.
- Volume 5, Issue 26, December 14, 2006.
An email newsletter to distribute news and information about web design
++ISSUE 26 CONTENTS.
SECTION ONE: New references.
What's new at the Web Design Reference site?
New links in these categories:
02: CASCADING STYLE SHEETS.
05: INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE.
14: What Can You Find at the Web Design Reference Site?
++ SECTION ONE: New references.
First Ever Global Accessibility Survey Reveals Only 3 Percent of
Websites Tested Reach Minimum Levels
"UK-based web accessibility agency Nomensa released the results of the
first ever global website accessibility survey today. The report, which
was commissioned by the United Nations (UN), reveals that 97 percent of
websites tested fail to achieve the minimum web accessibility level..."
Designing Simple, Accessible Forms
By John Oxton.
"John Oxton demonstrates how it's possible to keep forms simple in
order to attract and retain clients, while also ensuring they are in
keeping with your site..."
Web Accessibility Groups Not Sharing Best Practices With Designers?
By Steve Lee.
"...Yes, web designers need to work with accessibility experts and
usability gurus in order to learn the skills which are not trivial. No,
the accessibility guys are not holding out for profit. They want to see
a step change in accessibility of web sites and services, including
those using cutting edge features..."
Open Source Screen Readers?
By Chris Hofstater.
"A few years ago, a handful of Stanford University Computer Scientists
and professors from their business school worked together on a paper
discussing the relative security of free and open source systems versus
security in proprietary software systems..."
+02: CASCADING STYLE SHEETS.
CSS Mobile Profile 2.0
"The CSS Working Group released a Working Draft of CSS Mobile Profile
2.0. This subset of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) 2.1 is a baseline for
implementations of CSS on constrained devices like mobile phones,
written to ensure interoperability and for alignment with OMA's
Wireless CSS Specification 1.1."
Hot Dates with CSS
By Christian Montoya.
"Dressing up your dates makes them stand out nicely, and you can do it
in such a way that they scale well with the rest of your layout (even
an elastic layout like this one)."
Overlapping Tabbed Navigation in CSS
By Shape Shed.
"A tutorial showing how overlapping tabbed navigation is possible in
10 Steps to Better CSS
By Shape Shed.
"Coding CSS can quickly get out of control. By following a few simple
guidelines you can make your life a lot easier..."
Showing Good Form
By James Edwards.
"Earlier this year, I forget exactly when (it's been a good year), I
was building a client site that needed very specific form widgets,
where the fields are arranged in a grid. Building this was a challenge
not just in CSS, but in choosing the proper markup - how should such a
widget be constructed?"
A CSS-based Form Template
By Prabhath Sirisena.
"Earlier this year I posted an article on a CSS-based form template,
originally done for the Sahana interface. It was modified based on the
feedback I received from the readers who stumbled upon the article, and
the final version made it to the Sahana system..."
Setting a Decent Table
By Kathy Marks.
"So, here's my own personal take on tables. Never use them for
site-wide layout, unless you plan on leaving town soon after. Never use
them when a CSS solution is available. Never use them if you can't make
them accessible. However, if you get in a real bind and have struggled
to find a CSS solution but can't, it's acceptable to use an occasional
accessible table. Not preferable, just acceptable..."
By Dave Shea.
"Given its relative new-ness of implementation, I hadn't put the CSS
opacity property through its paces yet. I found a situation today where
it seemed to fit, and was a little surprised by the results. Seems that
of the three browsers that attempt to support it, only Opera really
does it justice. Check out this test page and you'll see what I mean.
Hover the image to see the effects I'm describing..."
How One Person Developed the Edge
By Jenny Mok.
When we redesigned the Edge, we not only gave it a fresh look, but we
made it easier to use. From the inside out, we developed a framework
that makes the newsletter more flexible to build, design, edit, and
view. To achieve this, we used Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), which
enables us to separate design from content. Creating the CSS layout
required some serious forethought because one of the requirements was
to create one Dreamweaver template that all pages would be based on.
This is how I approached and built the Edge using CSS..."
Presenting Data and Information
One Day Workshop with Edward Tufte
January 29, 2007 in San Diego, California U.S.A.
January 30 or 31, 2007 in Los Angeles, California U.S.A.
February 2, 2007 in Phoenix, Arizona U.S.A.
Annual Conference for Human Computer Interface Educators from Industry
March 29-30, 2007.
The Demise of Flash: 8 Main Reasons
By Tadeusz Szewczyk.
"As a former Flash developer turned CSS zealot in the last 3 years I
want to present the 8 main reasons for the demise of flash..."
Anti-Flash Standardistas - You're Cutting Off Your Nose to Spite Your
By P.J. Onori.
"The more I read attacks on Flash, the more I end up shaking my head in
confusion. Honestly, I am a little surprised this is still being
+05: INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE.
How to Get Clients to Look at Wireframes...Properly
By Caroline Jarrett.
"It was the same old story. I was working with Whitney Quesenbery on
some wireframes for a client's web site. As usual, she'd done a lovely
job on the design. As usual, I'd fussed around with content. We'd done
our usual cross-checking and refinement. Proudly, we emailed them
By Drew McLellan.
to help it co-exist responsibly within your pages, and other pages too.
We could all do with a little bit more peaceful co-existence over the
holidays, couldn't we auntie. Pass the gravy."
Revealing Relationships Can Be Good Form
By Ian Lloyd.
"Ian Lloyd labels up and ships out a tip for improving the usability of
form labels. Whilst checking the labels on the gifts under your tree,
why not take some time out to check the labels on your forms and see
where it might be appropriate to add some extra touches."
By Christian Heilmann.
or maintainers. Before you start a new library or expect people to be
able to use yours immediately you might want to give these points some
thought. For library users this list might be a good 'heads up' to see
how much work has to go into using a library or how to pick the right
library for the job at hand..."
By James Edwards.
"In this article, I'd like to provide a little gratification to those
attempting to make their web applications accessible. To achieve this,
I'll talk about some of the more basic, solvable issues relating to
Joe Clark Talks - 'It's time for Tim Berners-Lee to accept defeat'
By Steve Faulkner.
"When people talk about web accessibility he is hard to avoid.
Invariably Joe Clark's name, work or reputation as a fierce intellect
and his 'scorched earth' critiques of WCAG 2.0 amongst other subjects,
will be a part of the conversational landscape. You may not agree with
him, but he usually has something thought provoking to say. Joe talks
here about the Open and Closed Project and other things. "
Tips for Designing Powerful RIAs: An Interview with David Malouf and
By Jared M. Spool and Joshua Porter.
"UIE's Jared M. Spool and Joshua Porter recently had the chance to talk
with expert web application designers, Bill Scott and David Malouf, to
discuss Rich Internet Application (RIA) development, AJAX, and other
important issues surrounding the creation of sophisticated web apps..."
Project Management Made Easy
By D. Keith Robinson.
"A few months ago I had an epiphany of sorts. I realized that I was
pretty good at managing projects. Must of the projects that I manage
come in on-time, on- or under-budget and with relatively few problems.
More importantly the projects I manage usually leave everyone involved
happy and feeling like they'd accomplished something. Now, don't get me
wrong, I've been managing projects for years and it's not always been
like that. I used to really hate managing projects, probably because I
didn't really know how and I made project management into something
much more complicated than it is..."
Does Technology Make Managers Lazy?
By Gerry McGovern.
"...It amazes me the amount of organizations out there that still
believe that to create a better intranet or public website, all they
need to do is choose the right content management software. These
organizations are not thinking about the quality and effectiveness of
the content. They'll employ junior people to put up this content, and
then a couple of years later they'll wonder where it all went wrong.
I've yet to meet an organization that has successfully implemented
personalization either for their intranet or their public website. This
is not because the concept of personalization is wrong. Properly
implemented, it is a very sophisticated and powerful way to give
customers what they want. There are many reasons it fails miserably,
however. One of them is that organizations feel that all they need to
do is install this fancy software, turn it on, and, hey presto, a
wonderful website emerges. No need to worry about the quality of the
content. No need to worry about how well it is structured and
organized. The magic software looks after all that..."
How Google Finds Your Needle in the Web's Haystack
By David Austin.
"As we'll see, the trick is to ask the web itself to rank the
importance of pages..."
Dropdown Low Down
By Tyssen Design.
"Dropdown (horizontal) or flyout (vertical) menus abound on websites
and come in many different flavors. They are also put together in a
CSS and some a mixture of both. They also have varying degrees of
usability and accessibility..."
Debugging Techniques for PHP Programmers
By Tyler Anderson.
"Explore various methods for debugging PHP applications, including
turning on error reporting in Apache and PHP, and by placing strategic
print statements to locate the source of more difficult bugs through a
simple example PHP script. The PHPeclipse plug-in for Eclipse, a slick
development environment with real-time syntax parsing abilities, will
also be covered, as well as the DBG debugger extension for PHPeclipse."
Securing PHP Contact Forms
By Jonathan Nicol.
"One of the great benefits of PHP is that it is quick and easy for
non-programmers to learn the basics of the language and begin to add
server-side logic to their websites. This simplicity is a double edged
sword, as many novice programmers are unaware of PHP's security
vulnerabilities and inadvertently create web applications that..."
Batch Processing with PHP
By Jack Herrington.
"What do you do when you have a feature in your Web application that
takes longer than a second or two to finish? You need some type of
offline processing solution. Check out several methods for offline
servicing of long-running jobs in your PHP application..."
The Basics of Implementing Adapter Objects with PHP
By Alejandro Gervasio.
"DevShed takes a look at another of the design patterns in a new series
starting with this new tutorial a look at the implementation of Adapter
objects in PHP. You may have already encountered situations in coding
PHP applications in which you would like to use inheritance, but could
not for one reason or another. Fortunately, there is an alternative for
these situations that can help you achieve the same result. In this
first article in a two part series, you'll learn about the adapter
pattern.They start off with the basics of the Adapter pattern and move
quickly into the first definition of a class using them a directory
processor. Once that's built, they show how it all works with a more
Supporting Legacy Browsers, or Not
By Mike Cherim.
"So what are the goals: 1. The content itself must be accessible to all
users. 2. Styling support for older browsers isn't necessary..."
Supporting Legacy Browsers, or Not
By Mel Pedley.
"Following a conversation about the problems of supplying accessible
content to old (legacy) browsers Mike Cherim came up with a PHP
solution that would allow developers to serve very plain content to
legacy browsers but rich content to everyone else. There's nothing
wrong with Mike's code but I felt it could be tidied up and, possibly,
tweaked to give faster performance. After all, if you're going to use
this on a big, high traffic site, performance could become an issue."
Firebug 1.0 Beta
By Joe Hewitt.
Firebug 1.0 Beta is out. It has some wonderful new features. "Firebug
integrates with Firefox to put a wealth of development tools at your
fingertips while you browse. You can edit, debug, and monitor CSS,
By Pete Freitag.
"I have just launched another documentation shortcut site, this time
for CSS: cssdocs.org. It allows you to get to CSS documentation from
the url, for instance type in: cssdocs.org/text-decoration to go to the
W3C documentation for the text-decoration property."
Compose to a Vertical Rhythm
By Richard Rutter.
Richard Rutter scrutinizes the typographical proportions and spacing
that gives a written page its rhythm. Help your page sing like the
herald angels, and still have time for a mince pie and brandy.
What Did We Learn This Year?
April McGee and Mary Michaels.
"...annual year-end summary of usability research."
Web Browsing on Mobile Phones - Characteristics of User Experience
By Virpi Roto.
"...In her dissertation research, Virpi Roto has interviewed users of
mobile browsers in several countries, and identified characteristics
that help improve the mobile browsing user experience if taken into
consideration. In addition to user and use context, all the system
components should be taken into account: device, browser, network
infrastructure, and web site. A partial outcome of the research is a
visualization method called Minimap, which has gathered publicity as
the first practical way to view Web pages on a mobile phone. The method
has been used in Nokia S60 phones since 2006..."
Usability Weaknesses Inherent In Portals
By Joe Lamantia.
"Portal user experiences suffer from a number of inbuilt usability
weaknesses that the building blocks are designed to eliminate. For
instance, flat tile schemes assume all tiles are structurally the same,
and that they have no relationship to any other tiles. This makes all
tiles of equal importance to the portal's information architecture.
[Welcome to Flatland...] Yet any designer or information architect
addressing diverse user needs and goals knows that the priorities of
users make some content more important than others, and that the
structure of the user experience should reflect these priorities and
any necessary relationships..."
Designing Web Applications for Use
By Larry Constantine.
"Web-based applications, like all software systems, are obviously
intended for people to use. Not so obvious is that users may not be the
single most important factor in the application design equation. This
is not an academic argument, particularly for the harried designer or
development manager who must decide how and where to spend limited time
and other resources. What should be the real focus of your design
Simplicity Is Highly Overrated
By Don Norman.
"Yes, we want simplicity, but we don't want to give up any of those
cool features. Simplicity is highly overrated."
By Joel Spolsky.
"...If you're using the term 'simplicity' to refer to a product in
which the user model corresponds closely to the program model, so the
product is easy to use, fine, more power to ya. If you're using the
term 'simplicity' to refer to a product with a spare, clean visual
appearance, so the term is nothing more than an aesthetic description
much in the same way you might describe Ralph Lauren clothes as
'Southampton WASP,' fine, more power to ya. Minimalist aesthetics are
quite hip these days. But if you think simplicity means 'not very many
features' or 'does one thing and does it well,' then I applaud your
integrity but you can't go that far with a product that deliberately
leaves features out. Even the iPod has gratuitous Solitaire game. Even
Ta-da List supports RSS..."
Simplicity Ain't So Simple, Part I: Decide What to Hide
By Nick Bradbury.
"...If you're a developer, take a look at your UI and try to figure out
whether all those tool buttons really need to be there by default.
Chances are you can hide a lot of them, which will make your
application simpler to learn without making it any less powerful..."
Simplicity Ain't So Simple, Part II: Stop Showing Off
By Nick Bradbury.
"One mistake I see developers make over and over again is that we make
a feature look complicated just because it was hard to create. We may
not be aware of it, but we want our customers to know when we sweated
blood during development, so we'll design a feature's user interface in
a way that shows off how much work went into it. We're doing our
customers a disservice when we do this. We should instead show off how
good we are at making complex things simple..."
Simplicity Ain't So Simple, Part III: Don't Add Features You Can't
By Nick Bradbury.
"...before you add that cool new feature to your software, take a
minute to consider whether the benefit to your application is worth the
time you'll spend supporting it. You don't want to find yourself
unable to keep up with the competition because you're spending too much
time supporting features you didn't really need to add in the first
The Gift to Be Simple
By Leo Robert Klein.
"People want the features but they don't want the complexity.
Furthermore, they'll prove extremely reluctant to try out a site, if in
order to accomplish their goals they've got to master every feature on
the thing. If this weren't the case, 'Advanced Search' would be the
first stop of even our most neophyte users."
XML and the Next Web (and the Previous...)
By Simon St. Laurent.
"XML has changed the Web dramatically over the last decade, though not
at all as originally planned. XQuery, though, is gathering steam to
drive a new round of potentially invigorating changes, even as Ajax
heads down the JSON path..."
Making XML Beautiful Again: Introducing Client-Side XSL
By Ian Forrester.
"Ian Forrester gives an introduction to using XML's forgotten child,
XSL, as a client-side transformation language. Like a warming wooly
scarf against the biting winter wind, Ian shows how XSL can be used to
take the edge of even the ugliest XML documents to make them beautiful
again. Thou shalt find the winter's rage freeze thy blood less coldly."
[Section one ends.]
++ SECTION TWO:
+14: 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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+ TEXT EMAIL NEWSLETTER (TEN).
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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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