[webdev] Web Design Update: March 2, 2007

Laura Carlson lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Thu Mar 1 14:02:36 CST 2007

- Volume 5, Issue 37, March 2, 2007.

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.
10: PHP.

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

[Contents ends.]

++ SECTION ONE: New references.


Accessible Electronic and Information Technology: Legal Obligations of 
Higher Education and Section 508
By Cynthia D. Waddell.
"Both the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and Section 504 
of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), as amended, set forth 
regulations under a civil rights mandate that prohibit discrimination 
on the basis of disability in higher education. These regulations 
require the provision of auxiliary aids and services to qualified 
students with disabilities attending colleges, universities, 
postsecondary vocational education and adult education programs..."

Cultivating and Maintaining Web Accessibility Expertise and 
Institutional Support in Higher Education
By Paul Bohman.
"...The vast majority of the accessibility obstacles on the web are not 
the result of technological failings. Usually they are the result of 
human error, negligence, ignorance, or, less frequently, discriminatory 
bias against people with disabilities. None of these excuses is 
acceptable within higher education environments, where discriminatory 
practices are both unethical and illegal. Colleges and universities 
must cultivate and maintain the expertise and institutional support 
necessary to ensure the accessibility of their web content..."

Case Studies in Training and Professional Development for Web 
By Cyndi Rowland.
"Institutions of higher education who take Web accessibility seriously 
must create systems of training and professional development for their 
staffs and faculties. Case studies were gathered from 8 authors who are 
tasked to assist their institutions with Web accessibility. These case 
studies should assist higher education in understanding a range of 
personnel development practices currently used in accessibility 

BarCamp London 2: Accessibility Panel Thoughts
By Mike Davies.
"...The crux is the definition of web accessibility. The only formal 
definition we have about web accessibility is found within the web 
content accessibility guidelines. Each guideline is written with that 
definition as a fundamental basis. Fundamental as in, if the definition 
changes, the interpretation of each guideline is different - either 
drastically or subtly. Instead of solving a problem that prevents or 
hinders a person with a disability, the guideline is warped as a 
solution to a user agent problem, which is certainly not in the spirit 
of the web accessibility initiative..."

Failed? Fundamentally Flawed?
By Mike Cherim.
"...Narrowing the meaning (of accessibility) will undoubtedly narrow 
adoption, and that's something none of us wants to happen. If anything 
we want more and more people to adopt best practices, web standards, 
markup/style/behavior separation, and web accessibility to the benefit 
of the mentally, physically (or otherwise) disabled..."

Failed and Flawed Accessibility Organizations
By Ian Lloyd.
"...But the reason for posting this here is to widen the question a bit 
more and ask a very open question. If you believe that the various 
accessibility sites named in Mike's post are failures or flawed, what 
would work for you?"

Accessibility vs Universality - Implications
By Alastair Campbell.
"...For me, accessibility is a constant, things must be made in an 
accessible fashion whatever technology you are using. On the other 
hand, the importance of universality depends on the context..."

Another Black Eye for Google
By Joe Clark.
"...Never send an intern to do what an entire department should already 
be doing."


Creating a Blog Entry Date Calendar Icon Look with CSS, Mostly
By Shirley Kaiser.
"I've received numerous inquiries about how I created the entry post 
calendar icon look for Brainstorms and Raves, so today's post shares 
the basics of the CSS and the two tiny background images I created to 
achieve the calendar icon look..."

12 Lessons for Those Afraid of CSS and Standards
By Ben Henick.
"...The cries of frustration I hear from other developers about CSS are 
only an echo of the ones I made for years. As a result I like to think 
that I can relate, and I'm writing to convey the most important lessons 
I've learned so far..."

Create Better Web Sites with CSS and the Font Control Property
By Melonfire.
"...Putting font information into a CSS file has a number of important 
advantages: it's easy to do, doesn't require any special software, and 
works uniformly on most major browsers. More importantly, because 
information is centralized in a single location, altering the visual 
appearance of your pages is a snap: simply alter the font or color in 
your primary style sheet and the change will 'cascade' across your site 
Control Table Appearance with CSS
By Tony Patton.
"...This week, I conclude this three-part series with an examination of 
spacing issues and overall table layout..."

Improving Your Process: CSS Techniques Part 1
By Jonathan Christopher.
"This article is the first of an upcoming series that will...attempt to 
provide some tips and tricks as far as design and development is 
concerned. The contents are purely my opinion, and take into account 
what helps me do my job."


Marking Up Your Site for Easier Redesign in Five Steps
By Frederick Townes.
"Understand the techniques to separate presentation from markup to 
facilitate easier execution of user interface changes."


Usability Testing is an Excellent Training Tool
By Jared Spool.
"I've seen a lot written about usability testing over the years, but I 
can't recall seeing anyone talk specifically about it's value as a 
training tool, to bring the entire team on the same page about who the 
users are and what they are trying to accomplish. Stretch your thinking 
of usability testing as a design validation tool or an idea generator 
into a team education technique. You won't regret it."

Usability Testing. Oh, The Things You Can Learn
By Jared Spool.
"Jared Spool sheds light on the aspects of usability testing nobody 
ever talks about, and catalogues some of the things a team learns when 
they put together their own usability tests, starting with recruiting 
and ending with analysis."

Browser Testing CSS and JavaScript
By Roger Johansson.
"...here is my personal browser testing order..."

+05: EVENTS.

e-Access '07: Technology for All
May 2, 2007.
London, United Kingdom

+06: FLASH.

Semantic Flash: Slippery When Wet
By Dan Mall.
"Love it or hate it, Flash has become a fixture of modern web design. 
Author Dan Mall cuts through the misconceptions to show us how Flash 
can be used to enhance our standards-based web designs."


A Guide to Unobtrusive Javascript Validation
By Chris Campbell.
"...it turns out that the world of unobtrusive Javascript is a giant 
Pandora's box of trouble..."

Handling JavaScript-Disabled Browsers
By Kevin Yank.
"Previously, I mentioned that you should consider three main groups of 
people when adding JavaScript to your site-users without JavaScript 
capabilities, users without a mouse, and users of screen readers-and 
that supporting each of these three groups becomes progressively more 
difficult. In this post, we'll focus on the first group, and discover 
how very easy it is to accommodate them with the right approach..."


Interview with Jeremy Keith
By Carolyn Wood.
"This week, Digital Web Magazine is proud to feature an interview with 
Jeremy Keith, the codemonger behind the new book Bulletproof Ajax as 
well as his previous book, DOM Scripting, his web agency Clearleft and 
his long-running blog Adactio. Carolyn Wood and Mr. Keith talk about 
the new book, how he approaches AJAX with a mind to bulletproofing, and 
the pitfalls of over-AJAXing user experiences."

Gender Diversity at Web Conferences
By Jason Kottke.
"I'm reasonably sure that the organizers of these conferences were 
aware of at least one of the above recent complaints about gender 
diversity at conferences (they were both linked widely in the 
blogosphere), so it will be interesting to see if those complaints were 
taken seriously by them..."

Jason Kottke's post sparked much reaction...

Diverse It Gets
By Eric A. Meyer.
"...as a conference organizer, I don't care about diversity. All right. 
Take a minute to reduce the boil in your blood to a bare simmer, and 
bear with me. I'm going to explain what I mean, and illustrate as best 
I can. I hope that by the end, you'll better understand my point of 
view, even if you don't agree with it..."

Diverse Reactions
By Eric A. Meyer.
"I am deeply sorry today, but not for what I was trying to say. I might 
be sorry for how I said it, or for a number of other things..."

Diversity Isn't Important and Neither are Standards or Accessibility
By Shelley Powers.
"...You know, Eric has a point: why should we worry about diversity in 
conferences? Or within technology, as a matter of fact?..."

Gender Diversity at Web Conferences
By Dori Smith.
"...If you're starting up a conference and you'd like more women 
attendees/speakers, go where the women already congregate and tell them 
about your event. It could be that they'd like to attend, if they could 
just find out about it in advance..."

Gender and Ethnic Imbalance in Web Design
By Jeffery Zeldman.
"...The problem is visible at the top because it exists at the bottom. 
There are barriers to entering the field and barriers to doing well in 
it. Some of these barriers are economic: not everyone has access to 
needed tools and training. We are interested in systematic and 
permanent change in the field, not merely the appearance of change as 
represented in a conference speaker lineup. Soon we will announce real 
steps to put these concerns into action."

Notable Web Experts Who are [x]: Women and Non-Caucasians
By Ben Henick.
"...This is a standards issue, too. For reasons of culture and 
temperament, people who aren't white men bring something to the theory 
and practice of Recommendation track technologies that would otherwise 
be totally absent from the evolution of those technologies..."

I Decided to Quit Complaining and Take Action
By Virginia DeBolt.
"...Here's what I commit to do...Send proposals for presentations to at 
least two conferences where I've never presented...Send proposals for 
articles to at least two publications where I've never published..."

Make Me A Speaker (Wiki)
By Meri Williams.
"This wiki is intended to be a place where those who are interested in 
becoming speakers (particularly, but not exclusively, in the web world) 
can come to get advice, mentoring and help. It is also intended to be a 
meeting place for those who are interested in helping others become 
speakers..."  Many of the A list, including Molly E. Holzschlag, Jeremy 
Keith, Derek Featherstone, Andy Clarke and Dave Shea have signed up to 
offer help and mentoring.

For more info on the diversity of web conferences visit:


Non Hierarchical Navigation
By Paul Boag.
"...There are lots of reasons why a normal information architecture 
might not work for your site. However, probably the most common is that 
your site has simply outgrown the constraints of a hierarchical tree 
and that your users are getting lost deep in the information 
architecture. Often the answer is simply to do some radical pruning to 
remove much of the deadwood, however occasionally a different approach 
needs to be found. So what are the alternatives available to you?..."

Right-Hand Navigation
By Free Usability Advice.
"Question: Our site uses a right-hand navigation, rather than the 
traditional left-hand navigation. We've tested this extensively and the 
results have always been very positive. Experts tell us to move the 
navigation to the left. Should we listen to experts or our users?"

+10: PHP.

Going Deep Inside PHP Sessions
By Joseph Crawford.
Joseph Crawford looks at the way PHP handles session and session 
information as it relates to the security for both the user and the 
server admin. He looks at pitfalls and method for creating a custom 
sessions handler to replace PHP's built-in one.

Big Arrays in PHP
By Brian Moon.
Brian Moon looks at using big arrays in PHP - how efficient it is and 
what can be done to ease things a bit.


Where Our Standards Went Wrong
By Ethan Marcotte.
"To validate or not to validate; that is the question. A List Apart's 
own Ethan Marcotte helps us to re-examine our approach to standards 
advocacy and how we can better educate our clients on the benefits of 
web standards."

Validation is More than Pretty Fonts and Unencoded Ampersands
By Christian Montoya.
"...Validation and web standards are actually hugely important, but not 
to your every day web designer. They are important to researchers and 
scientists who are trying to solve the greater problems of the web; 
semantics, device-compatibility, information retrieval, and so on. It 
was standardization that brought us where we are today, far past the 
days when many websites worked in Netscape or Internet Explorer? not 
both. It is standardistas that are trying to ensure that designers can 
do their jobs with less hassle, but more importantly, that users can 
really use the web efficiently..."

HTML Well-Formedness Requires Validation
By Sean Fraser.
"...Ill-formed (X)HTML can (and, often does) affect any page. It 
doesn't matter if pages are generated by hand-coding, HTML editors or 
Content Management Systems (CMS): ill-formed content may strike at any 
time. Any where. And, until an HTML Well-Formedness (or, Semantics) 
Validator or Conformance Checker is invented, the W3C HTML Validation 
Service remains the best tool but only if it's used. Do not rely on 
browsers! Validate!"


Do You See What I See?
By Kath Straub and Spencer Gerrol.
"Exploring cross cultural variation in looking behavior"

The Twilight Of Print
By Gerry McGovern.
"When the tool changes, so too should the skill and the technique. More 
and more, hypertext is replacing text and the Web is replacing 
print...Make sure you don't confuse the tool and the technique. Some 
say: 'But this is simply good writing.' No. It is good print writing. 
Learn to embrace the new skills of web writing, and to lose the old and 
increasingly archaic skills of print."

Life-Long Computer Skills
By Jakob Nielsen.
"Schools should teach deep, strategic computer insights that can't be 
learned from reading a manual."

Is Podcasting the New PowerPointing, Or Will We Finally Teach that the 
Audience Matters?
By Christian Long.
"...While we're moving quickly into a brave new Web 2.0 (or School 2.0) 
world with an infinite array of proprietary or open source technologies 
at our fingertips, I wonder how well we 'teach' our students the 
underlying presentation strategies inherent to successfully impacting 
an audience via each of these tools. Are we spending time on the 
PresentationZen site, reading Cliff Attkinson's anti-bulletpoint 
strategies, exploring Edward Tufte's visual philosophy? Or are we 
simply assigning a PowerPoint, a blog, a podcast, or whatever the 
multi-media tool du jour in hopes that something wonderful may happen 
serendipitously in spite of what typically takes place? This is not a 
suggestion that we choose not to use the great ranges of multi-media 
technologies at our fingertips. Quite to the contrary. Many of them 
allow for a more exciting 'process' experience that has as much to do 
with learning as the eventual presentation itself.  But that no matter 
what traditional or School 2.0 tool we use to work through and share 
our ideas or content or expertise, that we at least consider that 
without an audience it matters little."

[Section one ends.]


+13: 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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