Current Projects: Charlotte Gray | Secret Sites TBA
Current Thinking: Alley of the Shadow
Current ALA: Getting Paid
Current Glamour: Speed of Life
Current Interviews: CNET | pixelview | Library Journal
18 January 2002
[10 pm | noon | midnight]
In Issue No. 134 of A List Apart, For People Who Make Websites: GETTING PAID. As businesses struggle to stay in business, many are short–changing vendors or woefully delaying payment. Zeldman laments the increasing difficulty of getting his hands on the money.
Chris Casciano’s Your CSS Bores Me bemoans the cookie–cutter approach many designers are taking as they transition from HTML table–based layouts to the intimidating (because less familiar) realm of CSS. Think of Chris’s complaint as a creative wake–up call. For a fresh approach to CSS, check CSS/Edge at Meyerweb.com.
Yesterday, W3C issued a CSS3 Selectors Test Suite authored by Daniel Glazman, Ian Hickson, and Tantek Çelik, intended to help browser makers test and improve their products.
Don’t expect a visual treat. In fact, don’t be surprised if much of the Test Suite looks like plain HTML (or XHTML source) in your browser. Even the latest browsers don’t claim to support a lot of what’s on these pages (CSS3, XML, and “purist” XHTML 1.0).
Mozilla appears to understand all or most of XHTML 1.0 and XML. Other compliant browsers support “compatible” XHTML, following W3C’s backward compatibility guidelines, and that’s the form of XHTML we’ll probably be writing for the next few years.
The main thing is, tests like these enable browsers to continue inching forward. To view of the state of CSS in today’s browsers, we once again suggest a visit to CSS/Edge. :::
17 January 2002
[10 am | 8 am]
“Things aren’t as bad as people are making out. Hell, some people are even working, says Jeffrey Zeldman.” Alley of the Shadow at PDN–Pix.
A reader who has since designed a successful independent site credits this 1999 article at ALA for turning on the lightbulb in his head: “Coming from the advertising world, I was preconditioned to believe that you’re either a writer or designer—never both. That one article made me realize that my ‘overlapping skillset’ was an asset, and I haven’t looked back since.”
Of related interest from ALA ’99, Whose Web Is It, Anyway? discusses the challenges faced by independent web publishers fighting for readership in an increasingly corporate medium, and presents a possible solution in the form of interdependent creative networks.
Fortunately, since both articles were written, the market crash has slowed the pace and clutter of commercialization, increasing the chance that web users may stumble onto a personal or collaborative site that speaks to them as no commercial site could hope to.
Unfortunately, a few independent sites and networks linked from both articles have since disappeared or turned useless. But fresh ones continually arise. The independent web author refuses to die!
It brings tears to our eyes when we see developers think things through this thoroughly, allowing any visitor to read a site’s content while layering in increasingly sophisticated presentational and functional niceties for those who can enjoy them. Developers of the Sacramento Bee website, we salute you! (Hat tip: Michael Bazeley, among others.)
16 January 2002
[4 pm | 10 am | 9 am]
Sid, the zeldman.com publicist, insists that we call your attention to Library Journal’s On the Same Page, a joint interview with Carrie Bickner, conducted by Leo Robert Klein.
In 2000, the Sydney Olympics site was judicially flogged for failing to provide accessible alternatives. Advocates considered the case a landmark in their struggle to make the web accessible to all. Given the harsh legal costs and embarrassing public scandal, you’d expect the Olympics 2002 site to avoid the mistakes of its predecessor. Apparently not. Brainstorms and Raves has the story.
Shane Perran’s Photoshop Wishlist (“Make a Wish”) lets you submit ideas you’d like to see implemented in future builds of everyone’s favorite image editor. The independent site sees itself as a forum for community brainstorming; great ideas will be forwarded to Adobe.
In 1992, Karl Dubost visited New York City, photographing this great, grey place in contextually appropriate black–and–white. The collection is now online, in a simple–to–use image gallery. The photos are quite striking, and will bring tears to any New Yorker’s eyes. (If you’re looking for Royalty–free NYC photos you can use in your design projects, check iStockphoto.com.)
While listing new–for–’02 CSS–only redesigns, we should not neglect sites that made the Great Change in 2001. Joe Kaczmarek’s site has been table (and even pixel) free since 14 July 2001, and uses a nifty, multi–level Style Sheet switcher to let visitors swap looks and fonts at their pleasure. The site seems rather plain at first, but spend some time in its Change section and you’ll see how cool it is. :::
15 January 2002
[1 pm | 11 am]
The deadline for submitting your site to the Communication Arts Interactive competition has been extended to 24 January.
A guest list for the upcoming “Meet the Makers” conference in NYC. Meet the Makers is a relationship–fostering event for senior level web professionals. Participation is by invitation only, but hot shots may request tickets. Fees raised from ticket sales will cover costs or pay someone other than us. We’re in it for the hot cheese balls, ourselves.
At Web Techniques: Raise Your Standards, by Molly E. Holzschlag, provides a fine, general introduction to everything professional web designers need to know about “web standards,” including why we’ve wrapped that phrase in quotation marks. (Hat tip: Ian Evans.)
At Brainstorms and Raves: Shirley Kaiser’s PDF and Accessibility examines the PDF format in terms of its “accessibility friendliness,” providing links for web users and tips for site developers who wish to make their PDF documents as accessible as possible.
14 January 2002
[6 pm | 1 pm | 11 am | 10 am]
Why is it? Why is it that every other personal site or weblog these days seems to be authored in valid (X)HTML and CSS, while large content sites—even really hip ones, by companies that “get it”—are so far from compliant that the W3C can only return a “fatal error” when you attempt to validate their pages?
We can understand getting some validation errors, particularly when you use the
<embed> tag to incorporate Flash and other streaming media. We’ve had the same problem ourselves. The W3C doesn’t like the
<embed> tag, though many browsers require it.
But on sites that cost millions to produce, the lack of even the most basic attempt to author valid content (or even to include a DOCTYPE) strikes us as not merely short–sighted, but borderline pathological. Don’t these companies understand what is at stake?
For reasons known only to themselves, the designers of the PDN–Pix website have moved all our 2nd SITE columns to new URLs without creating redirects or leaving forwarding addresses. Columns so moved include “You’re the Tops?”, our August 2000 deconstruction of Adweek’s Top 100 Interactive Agencies.
Because we love you—and because we hate it when site developers move or delete pages without bothering to leave a back trail—we’ve found all the new URLs and updated our listing of articles accordingly.
Lest we come off like dour Nielsenian spoilsports, let us be clear about why random URL changes mildly unhinge us. Of all the things that can make a website hard to use, hiding your content ranks high. We believe that when you publish content on the web and invite people to bookmark it, you ought not to break those bookmarks casually, as if your website were your living room and you were simply rearranging the furniture.
We’re not perfect, and we’ve deleted (or hidden) some ancient junk on this site once the referrer logs told us that nobody was bothering to look at it any more, but the durable URL principle is a good one, particularly for large content sites. If a new content management system breaks your old URLs, there are workarounds for that, too.
The Tyranny of 1024 x 768 at Interactive Design Forum comments on the absurd yet widespread practice of demanding that site visitors have “Internet Explorer 5, high–speed connection, [and] 1024 x 768 monitor resolution.”
In recent Reports, we’ve commented on the Great State of Texas’s law requiring that websites comply with web standards and WAI accessibility laws. Other U.S. states now also require compliance with WAI accessibility guidelines. Hat tip: B.K. DeLong.
“Meryl K. Evans is a geek. A very good geek.” For your edification and pleasure, the pixelview interview.
Meanwhile, Pixelsurgeon interviews Brendan Dawes. Among other things, Dawes is responsible for the brilliant Saul Bass on the Web tribute site. Saul Bass, of course, designed the title sequences for Psycho, North by Northwest, Anatomy of a Murder, and many other films, and his work continues to influence designers everywhere (see today’s Book of the Day, below). Bass also storyboarded the most–discussed sequence in film history: the shower murder in Psycho.
Thanks for the cards and letters! After a lovely birthday weekend break, we’re hard at work on the launch of a music brand (news to come) and the completion of Charlotte Gray. Others born on 12 January: Tanya Rabourn (19??), Howard Stern (1954), Joe Frazier (1944), Jack London (1876), John Singer Sargent (1856) and HAL (2001).
Book of the Day: Designer Shock: “a guide to the weird and wonderful world of the Berlin–based Designershock design group ... full of mysterious artifacts and characters.” Mainly what you get in this fascinating and somewhat cryptic hardcover publication is a collection of remarkable typefaces (including one based on the work of Saul Bass), and access to an online book companion site, where you can create artwork in real time over the web. :::