Thursday, December 30, 2004

WCAG on your iPod

Dey Alexander - Web accessibility podGuide

You know can take the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), as well as UAAG, ATAG, and Section 508 with you on your iPod. After seeing what Westciv did with their CSS guide for your iPod, someone decided that we needed to put accessibility guidelines on your iPod also. This is just too cool. I am at work so i can't try this now but I will when I get home and report back.

So now as your rocking to U2's Vertigo on your iPod you can be reading up on how to make your alt attributes comply with international and national web standards. :)

What 2005 holds for Web Design

This is a good article that talks about what 2005 could possibly hold for web design. They predict that standards compliance will become even more mainstream (yay!).

Forty Media - Web Design in 2005

podcasting

For Christmas I got an iPod Mini, it very sweet. So I decided that I was going to find out what everyone was talking about with podcasting.

Podcasting is oh very sweet. It's pretty much anyone who wants to record audio can put it online and into an RSS feed. Then I can subscribe to your audio feed and download all your latest shows. I think this has HUGE implications for the future. This means anyone can have their own Talk Radio show...move over Hannity and Rush.

I wonder how long it will be before there is a podcast that is competing in audience with one of the big name radio jocks.

Wired News - Podcasts: New Twist on Net Audio

"It's aggregating audio content, but it's taking one extra step, in that it's putting it on your device," said Adam Curry, who built the first podcasting aggregator, known as iPodder. "Not only do these devices play it, but you don't have to put it there yourself. It just happens automatically."


Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Turning Lists into Nice Navigation

Are you bored with just having a boring bulleted lists for your navigation?

Today I have been working on a prototype for a system that we are revamping. I used Accessify.com's List-o-matic online tool. It's pretty cool. You plug in what you want your list items to be and what URL's you want them to go to. You then choose a design and it will spit out the HTML and the css for you to use. I just wish it had more list designs loaded into it.

It was apparently inspired by Listamatic, which has many other examples.

These are really great tools that will empower you the developer to make greater strides in web standards.

Handles CSS Better? - Dreamweaver vs. Style Master

I have recently heard a lot of really great things about Westciv's program Style Master. With the projects that I am workign on I have been doing more and more cascading style sheets, especially css layout. Dreamweaver doesn't do the best job of style sheets but I use dreamweaver ALL the time to develop pages. Hopefully CSS is something they will make better in the next release.

I am considering whether or not I should check out Style Master. It says it has a 30 day trial. Sweet! I will try it out and let people know what I think.

What you do you all think? Westciv's Style Master or Macromedia Dreamweaver to do CSS work?

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

A CMS doesn't solve All

Jeffrey Veen wrote an excellent article about how companies have wanted to find ways to get their web sites update on a more regular basis. They decide the thing that they need to do is a shell out a lot of money for a giant content management system. They think once people have the technology in their hands everything will get updated on a regular basis. But once the cms has been deployed no one ends up using. This is a people problem not a technology problem.

There needs to be a strategy. Jeffrey Veen goes into the strategy that he recommends.

This is more than just a way to manage content, it’s the beginning of a content strategy — a plan for how your site will respond to your customers, inform them, and help them make decisions that will ultimately increase their loyalty to you and your site.

And frankly, I could not care less what system you use to publish it.


adaptive path - Why Content Management Fails

We Have Work To Do

There is a story in the UK Register yesterday morning about how there has been lots of disregard for the accessibility laws that they have in the United Kingdom.

This lack of action on accessibility is creating an internet underclass, according to web testing firm Scivisium. The company has identified several different kinds of accessibility problems, where the site will only work with a particular browser, or requires the user to change their browser settings to gain access.


Ladies and Gentlemen we have some work to do. I am confident though that we will get our message across. Check out the Web Standards Project for more resources about getting the standards message out.

Monday, December 20, 2004

firefox is taking over

Eric Meyer, the css guru, recently posted that on his company's web site 43% of the users were using firefox. 69.2% of the users were using a browser that was standards compliant. That rocks guys! Way to Go!

I found this sweet standards compliant browser campaign, Browse Happy. check it out and if your viewing this blog using Internet Explorer, read why you should switch over to something better.

Friday, December 17, 2004

web design world sessions

The Web Design World Conference 2004 in Boston sessions have been posted online. This includes TONS of helpful video. I would take the time to watch through the video. Jeffrey Zeldman gave the keynote to the conference.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

accessibility tip of the day - alt text length

from the great Joe Clarks' book, "Building accessible websites"


Keep the alt text short. There is no set limit on the length of an alt text, but as we shall see shortly, a very long alt may not be fully displayed when image-loading is turned off or when the browser cannot locate the image file. By convention, limit alt texts to 1,024 characters (1 K) or less.

When it comes to writing the actual text, remember that alt takes the place of the graphic. Tell us what the picture is or represents or sum up its function, but don¹t tell us that it¹s a picture. I¹ll give you actual examples in a moment, but steer clear of writing a sort of meta­alt text, like ³Picture of sunset over Darling Harbour² or ³Picture of company logo.²


Joe Clarks - Building Accessible Websites: The Image Problem

Updated - HTML Test Suite for WCAG 2.0 Test 3 - ALT text must be short.

a css tutorial on your iPod

I have found what seems to be one of the better CSS guides on the net.
WESTCIV - Learning Web Standards :: CSS Guide

They have also rigged it up so that you can download the css tutorial and install it on your iPod. I know i would do it ( if i had an iPod ;-) ). If a party was getting lame and you wanted something to talk about, you could wip out your iPod and show everyone how cool you are with your CSS tutorial.

They even get into the css mobile profile in the tutorial. Sweet!

browser wars - firefox vs. ie

go firefox go!
http://reviews.cnet.com/4520-3000-5568116-1.html

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

paging vs. scrolling

This is a cool paper. Someone did usability testing to see if people react better to paging through a long selection of text or just scrolling through it.

Usability News - The Impact of Paging vs. Scrolling on Reading Online Text Passages

Saturday, December 11, 2004

"Google suggest" is just too awesome.

Google just released the beta of their new search engine, Google Suggest. Ever want to search for something but not totally sure how to spell it?

Google suggest as you type entries in will give you the top searched entries starting with those letters. It is too cool.

I think between this and g-mail it shows that Google is one of the king companies of the online industry.

The Ampersand Problem

I have been working on getting our office blog started at where I work.

The latest entry that we wrote was about the Ampersand problem. We are working towards getting our web sites to comply with web standards but one thing that was tripping our pages up is the ampersand. People were using "&" instead of "&amp."

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

css design problem solving techniques

I have been working on converting some of the table-based web sites that my office is responsible for into css based layouts. So I have been spending lots and lots of time troubleshooting getting the designs to look as similar across browsers.

This article has a good list of techniques that can be used to assist in the css problem solving.
Mezzoblue - CSS Problem Solving

alt and title attributes are kind of like apples and oranges

At work for me and in web development in general there is confusion between what an alt attribute is used for and what a title attribute is used for. Here is a good article that helps to explain the difference.

456 Berea Street - The alt and title attributes

The Alt Attribute

For user agents that cannot display images, forms, or applets, this attribute specifies alternate text. The language of the alternate text is specified by the lang attribute.

Source: How to specify alternate text.


The title attribute

This attribute offers advisory information about the element for which it is set.

Source: The title attribute.


Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Fangs; Taking a bite out of inaccessible web sites

Good chance that there are a fair share of you that have wanted to test your site with a screen reader but shuddered at the idea of shelling out lots of money to purchase something like Jaws.

A developer, Standards-Schmandards.com, is working on a Mozilla Firefox extension, Fangs, that will emulate the work of a screen reader as text output.

It is still under development but the beta version that is available now would still be very helpful.

amazon.com learned their lesson

If you ever thought about using a text-only page as an accessible alternative for your web site, read this article.

Wired News - Amazon Access: How Accessible?

Amazon.com did a text-only version of their site and got really criticized. You can no longer find the text-only site linked on their page. Or at least I can't find it. Yah text-only alternatives to web sites are a bad idea. Most of the time they just aren't going to get used.

According to the W3C guidelines, developers should create an alternative solution only as a last resort:

"Content developers should only resort to alternative pages when other solutions fail because alternative pages are generally updated less often than 'primary' pages.... Before resorting to an alternative page, reconsider the design of the original page; making it accessible is likely to improve it for all users." - Wired Article

Web Standards, "It's Whats For Dinner"

Have you been looking for a material that you can use to show your friends, family, and co-workers about the positives of web standards?

I ran across a good presentation this morning.

Max Design - The benefits of Web Standards to your visitors, your clients and you!

Monday, December 06, 2004

a web development tool bar for Firefox

Recently I posted about web development tool bar that was an add-on to Microsoft Internet Explorer. I am sure that I got a lot of sighs because people despised the idea of having to Internet Explorer.

The Mozilla web site has recently posted a web developer tool bar for Mozilla Firefox. It looks excellent. You can do all kinds of stuff like disable the css, change page sizes, enable showing of various html elements, disable images, and much much more. It also has a validate button; yay standards validation!

Check it out and let me know what you think.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

designing web sites for the pda.....come on you can do it

Lately at work I have been convincing the higher ups to let me design the web sites that they already have using CSS and making them XHTML 1.0 Strict. The idea is that we could move in the direction of making multiple style sheets to fit whatever environment someone could be using. I wonder how long this is going to take to catch on?

I have been reading the A List A Part article called, Pocket Size Design.

When am I going to be able to surf with ease on my pda?

Every web site that I go to I am faced with the dreaded horizontal scrolling. Or I use the pda browser to mess with the layout to get it in a way where I can read it, but even that is not pretty at all.

Help me move the web in the right direction, follow web standards and design a css for a pda.



Thursday, December 02, 2004

"Whats In Your Wallet?" An Accessibility Quicktips Card

Capital One has great commercials. "What's in your wallet" has become of the phrases that if you say it everyone knows what your talking about.

I am on a discussion list for the Web Standards Group and someone was looking for a resource that she could point novices to to tell them about web accessibility. The quick tips card that the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative provides is really a great resource. It is just 10 quick items that you if you do them it will help to make your web site more accessible.

If your a developer take this card and use it as a mini-checklist to make sure that you are doing all these things in your web site.

The great thing is these cards are FREE. Just send a request for them via the Web Accessibility Initiative web site.

The quick tips:

For Complete Guidelines & Checklist: www.w3.org/WAI

  • Images & animations: Use thealt attribute to describe the function of each visual.

  • Image maps. Use the client-side map and text for hotspots.

  • Multimedia. Provide captioning and transcripts of audio, and descriptions of video.

  • Hypertext links. Use text that makes sense when read out of context. For example, avoid "click here."

  • Page organization. Use headings, lists, and consistent structure. Use CSS for layout and style where possible.

  • Graphs & charts. Summarize or use the longdesc attribute.

  • Scripts, applets, & plug-ins. Provide alternative content in case active features are inaccessible or unsupported.

  • Frames. Use the noframes element and meaningful titles.

  • Tables. Make line-by-line reading sensible. Summarize.

  • Check your work. Validate. Use tools, checklist, and guidelines at http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG


(c) W3C (MIT, INRIA, Keio) 2001/01

If you have any problems getting quick tips cards let me know. I can inquire for you.

the quick tip card back and front

.php stylesheets

At work today I was helping a colleague work on a web system. It was an open-source calendar program. We had some new features that we were adding on to customize it more to what we wanted to accomplish. We were trying to add a style sheet to the new feature pages.

The system was using a .php file as it's style sheet. The file had all the normal css stuff in it but with some dynamic content. The styles were being dynamically created based on what type of situation it was being used. It was really wierd. I had never seen a .php dyanmic style sheet before. It's very non-compliant solution but interesting.

Anybody else tried this before?

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

quick guide to making forms accessible

One of the biggest areas that people have trouble making accessible is forms. Web credible has written a great article, Making Accessible Forms Part 1.

Forms are one of the most crucial parts of your website. Forms are used to:

* Buy products
* Sign up to newsletters
* Contact you

These are the goals of your website! When a web user fills out a form they're doing something you want them to do. Unless you make sure they're accessible to one and all, some of your site visitors may not be able to perform some of these crucial tasks.