Jeffrey Zeldman Presents The Daily Report

A List Apart No. 174

In this week’s issue of A List Apart, for people who make websites:

Accessible Pop-up Links

by Caio Chassot

Sometimes we have to use pop-ups — so we might as well do them right. This article will show you how to make them more accessible and reliable while simplifying their implementation.

Changing the world, one tag at a time

Amnesty International USA is looking to hire one good web designer/developer:

Requires strong knowledge of XHTML, CSS, scripting and programming languages; content management systems. Ability to create and optimize graphics for the web. Experience with Linux and web-based applications including Apache a plus. Position available starting June 1st.

If you get this job you will enjoy the rare pleasure of having a boss who not only knows about web standards but expects you to use them. You will also, more importantly, be contributing to an organization that fights for human rights around the globe — as crucial now as it ever was. And you will live in Washington, D.C., a comfortable and cosmopolitan capital that boasts (or at least used to boast) thriving homegrown hip-hop and punk rock scenes.

Amnesty International USA is a client of Happy Cog Studios, so you will likely be working with stuff we make for them.

Production for use

I recently used Amtrak’s website to book a business trip. It was soon clear that the developers had not read 37signals’s Defensive Design. If they had read it, they would not have created what looked like an informational link about business class but turned out to be a purchasing link (with no information provided other than the increased price).

Likewise, when I chose not to pay for business class, since its amenities had not been explained, if the developers had read Defensive Design, when I clicked “Return to my choices” I would actually have returned to my choices, instead of being dumped back at the home page, with all my data lost.

I recently used a hotel’s website to book a room for a business trip. It was soon clear that the developers had not read 37signals’s Defensive Design. If they had read it, they would not have billed my credit card three times while incorrectly informing me that the first two times had failed due to a technical error that was explained in jargon of no use to anyone but the site’s programmer.

I ended up phoning the hotel to make sure that my room had in fact been booked, and that I would not have to pay for the same room three times. If the website’s purpose was to triple-charge potential visitors and then force them to make a phone call to clear up the errors, it succeeded admirably. But if the site was supposed to make it easy to register for a hotel room, the developers should have read 37signals’s Defensive Design.

If you work on transactional websites, your customers want you to read 37signals’s Defensive Design.

And if you work on chronically underbudgeted sites, you will want to read Web Design on a Shoestring, Carrie Bickner’s guide to doing more with less.

Web Design on a Shoestring shows how to save money on hosting, content management, and other inevitable web expenses, and, just as importantly, it tells where not to skimp (for instance, don’t skimp on typography). The book enjoys a 4.5 star rating at Amazon. Customers who bought Web Design on a Shoestring also bought titles by Joe Clark, Andy King, Eric Meyer, Ani Phyo, and your humble scribe. They will probably also buy 37signals’s Defensive Design.

Highlights from recent Daily Reports

Rome, Madrid, Iraq, New York
Last week, The Wife and I took a belated honeymoon in the fantastical city of Rome — a town filled with so many naked statues, a thousand John Ashcrofts could not cover them all. On the last day of our trip, terrorists in Madrid blew up commuter trains packed with workers and students....
A List Apart No. 173
CSS Sprites: Image Slicing’s Kiss of Death by Dave Shea. Zebra Tables by David F. Miller.
A List Apart No. 172
CSS Drop Shadows by Sergio Villarreal. CSS Design: Creating Custom Corners and Borders, Part II, by Søren Madsen
Waterbox redux
The music of Waterbox, part of this site’s “Classics” department, is back online for your listening pleasure.
A List Apart No. 171
Designing for Context with CSS, by Joshua Porter. Helping Your Visitors: a State of Mind, by Nick Usborne.
The Drop Shadow League
Bevels and drop shadows are no longer the provinces of talentless design hacks. A brief history of the birth and resurrection of these two techniques which have recently exploded into full-blown style trends.

There is more

More highlights and back orders may be found in our Essentials Department.