22 Feb. 2002
[9 am | 8 am]
In this week’s double issue of A List Apart, for people who make websites:
SLASH FORWARD, by waferbaby: Some URLs are better than others. The effect of web addresses on usability and design. Short, sweet, simple, and useful. Plus:
HOW TO WRITE A BETTER WEBLOG, by Dennis A. Mahoney. Great writing can’t be taught, but bad writing can be avoided. Mahoney shares tips that may enhance the writing on your personal site.
The S.O.E. and French Resistance sections of the Charlotte Gray website are now live in The Time (1942–45), an area of the site dedicated to the real–life heroines and heroes whose stories inspired the novel and film. And with that, Charlotte Gray is complete.
Of the 506 W3C members, only 18 have sites with valid HTML (or XHTML). That’s a whopping 3.6% of W3C members. Conspicuously missing from the ranks of the standards–compliant: Microsoft, Netscape, IBM, Sun Microsystems, and Apple Computer. Details on Marko Karppinen’s homepage.
21 Feb. 2002
Lynda Weinman is a superb teacher and a gracious leader. Matt Owens and Hillman Curtis are warm, engaging speakers as well as inspiring visual talents. We thank all three for making today’s panel such a delight.
Speaking of Matt, his self–published Codex Three is now available. Released in a limited edition of 2,000 copies, Codex Three features works by ALT77, K10k, Presstube, Mike Young, and other gifted visual artists.
Tired of rumors that they were secretly gay, in 1999 Tom and Nicole ran a full–page ad proclaiming their heterosexuality. Rather than extinguish the gossip, the couple’s public response refueled it.
On the web, where tutorials are misread as manifestos, and wee improvements are heralded as breakthroughs, controversies of little merit erupt as predictably as farts in a taco shop. Let the rumpus rage without us. :::
20 Feb. 2002
[7 pm | 1 pm]
As many readers have noted, W3C’s validators appear to be going on and offline for reasons unknown. Fortunately, an alternative HTML validator run by the Web Design Group is working just fine.
Tomorrow morning at 9 am, we’ll join Lynda Weinman, Matt Owens, and Hillman Curtis for a Seybold panel on Interface Design. We hope to see some of you there. Details in World Tour.
We don’t speak the language, but we know how to use this site. Good design is hard precisely because it looks easy.
At Apple Internet Developer: Introduction to CSS Layout, by Eric Costello of The Web Standards Project, is an excellent tutorial on the techniques and benefits of designing with style sheets. Hat tip: Greg Storey, whose lovely site will also repay your attention. (You may have trouble viewing Greg’s site; if so, try again later.)
At Meryl.net, Blast Sites with User Style Sheets shows how to conduct fast usability testing, help ensure that your site is accessible, and understand how a website you’re viewing was laid out.
Omitted from yesterday’s browser report were the generations used to visit this site. Last week, MSIE 6.0 led the pack, followed closely by MSIE 5 (Win). Older versions of MSIE were few; instances of the excellent Mozilla/Netscape 6.x, fewer still. Stats vary from site to site and are often content–driven. Zeldman.com is read mainly by web designers and developers, who skew toward newer browsers. :::
19 Feb. 2002
[1 pm | 10 am]
Eric Meyer’s Liberty! Equality! Validity! (5 Dec. 2001) discusses common validation problems and solutions, including many not covered in Better Living Through XHTML or the NYPL Style Guide.
After a pleasant “day off” (only one client conference call), we’re crunching through the final design phase of a music brand launch, preparing for Thursday’s Seybold, and putting our taxes in order prior to a Friday sit–down with The Man, a.k.a. our accountant, Jerry. We sensed we were working too hard when we wrote, “Thanks, will look into it” in reply to a long, heartfelt email from a close family member.
Zeldman.com Browser Report for the week of 11–18 February, 2002: 88.06% MSIE (an unknown percentage of which may be Opera cloaked as MSIE); 8.68% Netscape; 0.64% Opera reporting itself as Opera. Your stats may vary. :::
18 Feb. 2002
[8 pm | 9 am]
In the U.S., it’s President’s Day.
Following up on yesterday’s Report about the character entity chart at Evolt, Iain Tucker shares his nifty click–and–pick character entity converter (we’ve bookmarked it).
An earlier link to a similar resource has been deleted, because that resource listed invalid entities—i.e. entities that work but that are not part of any web standard.
17 Feb. 2002
We’ve been looking for a simple, usable Character Entity Chart, and Evolt’s Adrian Roselli has put a nice one together. Worth a bookmark.
This Thursday, we’ll join Lynda Weinman, Matt Owens, and Hillman Curtis for a Seybold panel on Interface Design. Details in World Tour.
Not covered in Better Living Through XHTML, a key benefit of converting to XHTML in combination with CSS is that doing so makes it easier to prepare your content for multiple media delivery.
For instance, at A List Apart, we can easily generate wireless versions on the fly, because our markup contains just a few simple tags. Nested table layouts are much harder to translate to Wireless Markup Language (WML), because the parser must cope with heaps of semantically meaningless markup.
Not every site can convert to XHTML or CSS layout today—we use table layouts here and on some client projects. But for those that can switch, there is a payoff in reduced bandwidth and increased ease of translation from one XML language to another. Our thanks to Steve Champeon for a timely reminder. :::
16 Feb. 2002
Yesterday’s Better Living Through XHTML has been updated, along with the Dreamweaver & XHTML tips section of the NYPL Style Guide. An upcoming ALA article will help Dreamweaver 4 users modify the program to generate valid XHTML by default.
A CSS theme for the Manila web publishing system. Neat.
We still have a head cold and it still stinks. We’re judging a design contest, and, between naps, we’ve viewed hundreds of sites over the past few days—many of them excellent. Viewing hundreds of sites, you can’t help but notice patterns:
- Joe Gillespie’s Mini 7 typeface (used on our own menu bar) is more popular than the Backstreet Boys, particularly on Flash sites, where it often ends up oversized and antialiased, thus defeating the font’s purpose. (Minifonts: tips explains how to avoid that problem.)
- Many site designers think of web users the way TV producers think of their viewers. But web use is not passive, and if you make us wait and wait for a presentation to load, it had better be incredible. Damn good isn’t good enough.
- If Joshua Davis had a nickel for every Flash site that’s made use of his scrolling image interface, he’d have a buttload of nickels.
These qualms (and others we're too sniffly to jot down) aside, the overall quality of submitted sites has been high, and anyone waiting for the web to mature should be told that it already has. :::
15 Feb. 2002
[5 pm | 9 am]
In Issue 137 of A List Apart, for people who make websites: Better Living Through XHTML, by Zeldman—an unauthorized companion to the NYPL Style Guide. Everything you wanted to know about converting from HTML to XHTML, including why you’d want to, tools that help, changes in the way browsers display XHTML pages, shortcuts, bugs, workarounds, and other tips you won’t find elsewhere. Bookmark this page. You’ll need it sooner or later.
In yesterday’s Report, we mentioned that Spamcop had named our site as an offender in a consumer complaint about spam. Turns out the third–party newsletter in which we were quoted was not spam to begin with, but an opt–in mailing list run by a legitimate retailer. Let’s replay that in slo–mo:
A consumer forgets that he signed up to receive a newsletter, wrongly reports the newsletter as spam, and wrongly identifies our site as the source. Spamcop’s robots notify our ISP and hosting company that a consumer has filed a complaint against us, then spam us with complaint reports. What’s wrong with this picture?
Take it from us: a head cold on Valentines Day is not what you want. Sniffling, sneezing, and rasping out “Hi, Huddy!” from beneath a mountain of tissues just doesn’t cut it.
The independent Forget Magazine turns one year old today. Congratulations to editor Kent Bruyneel and his merry band of contributors.
Speaking of birthdays, the delightfully feisty Textism will turn one year old on 27 February. To celebrate, author Dean Allen has unleashed a Bad Textism Contest for your creative writing pleasure. :::
14 Feb. 2002
[noon | 10 am | 9 am]
Happy Valentines Day. The makers of Bobby (an accessibility and Section 508 compliance validator) appear to be hitting tough financial times, prompting them to limit the number of pages you can validate online, and to sell downloadable versions of Bobby to help support their ongoing costs.
In other accessibility news, Shirley Kaiser of The Web Standards Project and Andy King of Webreference.com are quoted in today’s New York Times coverage of accessibility issues in the Winter Olympics website designed by MSNBC. Alas, the Times takes the organizing committee’s meaningless response (“Being accessible has been a priority with us”) at face value.
Spamcop has reported our site in connection with a mass–mailed letter hawking “half price computer books.” We had nothing to do with said letter, whose author chose to quote a comment on our site.
Readers have been sending us fascinating practical questions about CSS. We remind you that Eric Meyer and John Allsopp’s free CSS–Discuss mailing list offers an unparalleled opportunity to ask CSS questions, request feedback, and share tips.
Speaking of Eric Meyer, we just got his CSS Pocket Reference. This tiny book provides a quick yet thorough introduction to CSS. It also explains every CSS1 property and shows which browsers support that property—all for a mere US $9.95. Eric is currently completing a CSS design book for New Riders. :::
13 Feb. 2002
This page specifies a logical tab order among form controls, links, and objects to assist those who navigate the web via their keyboard. Based on projected visitor needs, this tab order serves as a navigational user interface, and as such constitutes design, even though it is invisible to those who navigate exclusively with their mouse. This page is also XHTML 1.0 compliant. This page is not perfect, but it’s getting better, and that’s what design and life are about. :::
12 Feb. 2002
[1 pm | 11 am]
Saila.com has designed and made available for your Open Source pleasure a tableless, CSS–based, liquid, three–column layout that degrades acceptably in Netscape Navigator 4. ’Nuff said.
10 Feb. 2002
[4 pm | 11 am | 9 am]
Retooling: a message from The Web Standards Project.
The Wall Street Journal Online reportedly spent US $28,000,000 redesigning its site. Why so much? In part, because special features authored to the quirks of 4.0 browsers had “stopped working [in] the latest versions of Internet Explorer and Netscape” according to Online Journalism Review. (Hat tip: Peter Jordaan.) As builders begin authoring to W3C standards instead of to the shifting goal posts of specific browsers, absurd costs like this should go away.
NYC tip: Don’t shop in Chinatown on Chinese New Year.
8 Feb. 2002
[1 pm | 10 am | 8 am]
In this week’s oldschool double issue of A List Apart, for people who make websites:
A Search Engine in Perl, by Joseph Ryan. Everything you wanted to know about Perl but were afraid to ask—including how to build a simple search engine for your site.
Backward Compatible Style Sheet Switcher, by Daniel Ludwin. You asked for it, you’ve got it: an Open Source alternate Style Sheet switcher that actually works in Netscape 4.
Congratulations, Kate and Eric.
Happy Birthday to Leigh, the Queen of Photoshop.