Categories
Accessibility Design industry Standards

Beneath the law, beyond the validator

O say, can you see? If not, can you sue?
Designing With Web Standards made the point that an inaccessible site could get its owner in trouble. Now a blind student is suing Target, claiming that its inaccessible site violates the Americans With Disabilities Act and various U.S. state laws:
Unitless and Somewhat Slightly Dazed
Although the W3C validator claims that A List Apart’s CSS is flawed, our CSS is actually fine; the validator has a known bug that causes it to incorrectly flag unitless line-heights as errors. So why write unitless line-heights? Eric Meyer, who created A List Apart’s CSS, explains. His post is not only the best primer I’ve ever seen on the subject, it is the only primer I’ve ever seen on the subject—and the only one you need.
Categories
Design industry Standards Tools

Don’t be a beta hater

Yes, Happy Cog has a layout problem in Internet Explorer 7 beta. Not to worry: According to Molly Holzschlag of The Web Standards Project, Microsoft has fixed the problem, as we’ll see in a future IE7 release. The current beta chokes on this rule:

div#headwrap h1	{
	background: transparent url(/i/happycog.gif) 
		top left no-repeat;
	margin: 0;
	border: 0;
	padding: 0;
	padding-top: 100px;
	overflow: hidden;
	height: 0px !important; /* for most browsers */
	height /**/:100px; /* for pre 6.0 IE Win */
	}

It’s an image replacement technique that uses an alternate box model hack.

Designers use box model hacks to compensate for inaccuracies in the way some browsers (mostly Microsoft’s) calculate element widths with respect to padding and borders. I wrote this rule to insert my agency’s logo at the top of the page in visual browsers while presenting a text equivalent for screen readers and nongraphical browsers. The hacks force older Microsoft browsers to display these elements correctly.

When Microsoft released IE5, it was great for its day, but not always accurate. When they released IE6, it was better but not perfect. The company then declared victory and announced that the browser was dead and there would be no more IE browsers forever.

So designers got busy compensating for the standards deficiencies of IE5, IE5.5, and IE6 (and other companies’ browsers), using hacks like those seen here. The idea is to take the hackery out of markup, where it never belonged, and hide it in style sheets.

IE7 beta’s standards accuracy is already very good and getting better, and, despite what you might have heard to the contrary, Microsoft’s engineers are working with the community (and in particular with The Web Standards Project) to identify and fix CSS bugs and errors and to compensate for hacks like the one seen here. Using IE7? Finding bugs? Microsoft and The Web Standards Project want to hear from you.

Categories
Design industry links

Read these now

Hungry? Want another bullshit sandwich?
Andy Rutledge in UX Magazine: “Bad design harms business, it does not help it. Websites like Boingboing, Google and eBay are successful in spite of their poorly designed sites, not because of them.”
Blogs versus the NY Times in Google
Jason Kottke at kottke.org: “In 2002, Dave Winer of Scripting News and Martin Nisenholtz of the New York Times made a Long Bet about the authority of weblogs versus that of [The] NY Times in Google…. I decided to see how well each side is doing by checking the results for the top news stories of 2005.”
Metamorphosis
Dan Benjamin in The Hivelogic Narrative: “[W]riting in second person had a negative impact on something critical to the ‘success’ of Hivelogic: it significantly diminished the frequency of posting.”
Airbag: Cheap
Greg Storey in Airbag: “I am loving Google’s new search service based in China. It’s faster and brings up only the most relevant results without having to be some kind of search engine algorithm enthusiast.”
Categories
An Event Apart Design development events people

Dominey, Santa Maria, join Event Apart roster

It is pure pleasure to announce that famed web designer, developer, author, blogger, and entrepreneur Todd Dominey and fast-rising art director/designer/blogger Jason Santa Maria will join Eric Meyer and me on the speaker’s platform at An Event Apart Atlanta.

Todd Dominey is a living preview of tomorrow’s web designer: busy with client services, but also creating his own products; delivering powerful graphic design but always in the context of what the user needs to see; adept at web standards and Flash.

As for Jason Santa Maria, I hired him at Happy Cog and entrusted him with the redesign of A List Apart, so I think he’s pretty good.

Actually, I think Todd Dominey and Jason Santa Maria rock harder than Metallica and am thrilled that we will have them both on our stage. I hope some of you can join us at An Event Apart Atlanta.

  1. Blog post
  2. An Event Apart: Speakers
  3. Todd Dominey mini-bio
  4. Jason Santa Maria mini-bio
  5. Eric Meyer’s website
Categories
A List Apart Design Standards

A List Apart 211

In the 211th edition of A List Apart, for people who make webites:

  • In Search of the Holy Grail — Matthew Levine’s three-column CSS layout avoids the usual semantic sacrifices. Is it the ultimate of its kind?
  • Home Page Goals — Indie web powerhouse Derek Powazek articulates the unique set of design goals a home page requires to create a smart and welcoming impression.

Plus, listen up, ALA readers! A List Apart wants to know what you love—and hate—about the web right now…whatever makes you swoon or drives you nuts. We’ll feature a selection of responses in our next issue.

Categories
Accessibility An Event Apart Design development events Standards

An Event Apart Atlanta

Messieurs Eric Meyer and Jeffrey Zeldman are pleased to announce An Event Apart Atlanta:

On 3 April 2006, America’s favorite pastime (designing with web standards) will come to the 755 Club at Turner Field, as the famed ballpark’s spectacularly furnished club hosts An Event Apart Atlanta.

An Event Apart is a concentrated, one-day learning session on modern web design. Check the Event Apart Philadelphia page to get a sense of how the first event, held in the Franklin Institute, went down. Transpose from Philly to Atlanta, think ballpark instead of museum, and you get an inkling of what to expect.

Online registration starts soon; seating will be limited. Subscribe to An Event Apart’s RSS feed to stay ahead of the curve. Can’t make Atlanta? Event Apart seminars in Seattle, Chicago, and Los Angeles are up next.

Categories
Design film links Memes music people tv work

Four things

I blame Mark Simonson.

Four jobs I’ve had
  1. Writer for The Washington Post and City Paper
  2. Laborer in a PVC coating factory
  3. Art director
  4. Keyboardist (Yatz, Spoons, Pop Maru, Insect Surfers)
Four movies I can watch over and over
  1. Rushmore
  2. Swing Time
  3. North By Northwest
  4. Best in Show
Four places I’ve lived
  1. New York City
  2. Washington DC
  3. Bloomington IN
  4. Pittsburgh PA
Four TV shows I love
  1. The Office (Brit.)
  2. Arrested Development
  3. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
  4. The News Hour with Jim Lehrer
Four places I’ve vacationed
  1. Istanbul
  2. Rome
  3. San Francisco
  4. London
Four of my favorite dishes
  1. Madras Rava Masala at Dosa Hut
  2. White Omelette at Penelope
  3. Sag Paneer
  4. Tofu in Spicy Ramen
Four sites I visit daily
  1. Coudal Partners
  2. Daring Fireball
  3. Signal vs. Noise (by 37signals)
  4. A List Apart
Four places I would rather be right now
  1. Anywhere with Carrie, baby, and doggie.
  2. Seriously.
  3. That is my answer.
  4. Home best.
Four bloggers I am tagging
  1. Eric Meyer
  2. Tanya Rabourn
  3. Jason Santa Maria
  4. Greg Storey
Categories
Design industry Tools

Bookmarks for a rainy Monday

Fresh and preserved petals from my Ma.gnolia bookmarks…

AJAX, Web 2.0 and the Threat to Digital Archives

The more layers of mediation there are between you and the information you’re trying to preserve, the more likely it is that you won’t be able to access that information in the future. For historians, this problem is particularly painful; as information gets wrapped in more and more layers of technology, the profession increasingly relies … on the work of preservationists who keep this “stuff of history” around for future generations.

Create photo galleries in XHTML and CSS
Jonathan Younger’s Photon plugin lets you create photo galleries (like this one, designed by the incomparable Douglas Bowman) by exporting albums from Apple iPhoto to leading blog software environments. Photon supports Movable Type, TypePad, Blojsom, and WordPress. And because it is open-sourced, developers can extend it to work with non-iPhoto gallery software and with additional blogging tools.
Create photo galleries in Flash
Atlanta-based web designer Todd Dominey is that rare artist who understands user experience and graphic design, web standards and Flash. In consequence, his SlideShowPro, a dynamic photo gallery/slide show component for Flash MX 2004, is as luminous as it is utilitarian.
Categories
An Event Apart cities Design events film people

A film apart

Couldn’t make it to An Event Apart Philadelphia? Curious about what you missed? Our new, two-minute video reveals all. Well, anyway, it reveals what can be shown in two minutes. Shot on location at The Franklin Institute by filmmaker Ian Corey, it’s packed with thrills, chills, and design geekery.

See Zeldman explain why, the more words you have, the less you communicate. See Eric Meyer unveil the code behind last year’s best web layout. (Okay, so I’m prejudiced.) See Jason Santa Maria squeeze genuine typographic goodness out of two utterly common fonts. See lucky attendees win nifty prizes. See the music, hear the light.

Updated 24 January: SMIL video captioning by Andrew Kirkpatrick. Video playback requires QuickTime 7.

Categories
A List Apart Accessibility Design development industry work

Web 3.0 and other delights

In web technology, as in fashion, one day you’re in, and the next day you’re out.

In a Fashion Edition of A List Apart, For People Who Make Websites, I take a fair and balanced look at Web 2.0. And Colin Lieberman tells how to pull AAA accessibility out of your hat when the W3C kills acronym, Microsoft ignores abbr, and JAWS hates dfn.

Categories
Design industry links people photography Publishing writing

Year-end blowout

What makes for a good design book?
Lou Rosenfeld, co-creator of information architecture, is looking for people who like to read. Specifically, he is looking for people who like to read about design and user experience. Are you one of them? Then here is your chance to sound off. What vital topics aren’t being covered (or aren’t being covered well) in the design and user experience books you buy? Where are publishers falling down? What are you dying to read? Let Lou know what you think.
Technorati is hiring
Technorati, a real-time search engine that keeps track of what is going on in the blogosphere, seeks a modern web developer, “proficient in state of the art LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) development, with emphasis on PHP and Apache.” More to the point, says Chief Technology Officer Tantek Çelik, the company is looking for one who has kept up with CSS, semantic markup, microformats, and unobtrusive JavaScript.
Even more to the point, Technorati is looking for a smart web person who is tired of big-company bureaucracy, secrecy, and in-fighting, and seeks greater emotional and professional fulfillment—in other words, Technorati is looking for a web person who wants to make a difference. Yes, they really do write job descriptions that way, and not only in San Francisco, where Technorati is based. (Tags: technorati, jobs, webdevelopment.)
Freight for sale
FREIGHT (available from Phil’s Fonts) is a superbly detailed font family created by Brooklyn type designer Joshua Darden. Optimized for screen display, Freight is ideal for web interface design. You can also use it as a default font for such daily computing tasks as reading and writing email—makes a tasty break from Verdana and Georgia. Recent Darden fonts include Meta Headline (created at the behest of Erik Spiekermann and Christian Schwartz) and lovely, funky Omnes.
Kids with cameras

In Calcutta’s red light district, over 7,000 women and girls work as prostitutes. Only one group has a lower standing: their children. Zana Briski became involved in the lives of these children in 1998 when she first began photographing prostitutes in Calcutta. Living in the brothels for months at a time, she quickly developed a relationship with many of the kids who, often terrorized and abused, were drawn to the rare human companionship she offered.

Zana held weekly photography workshops between 2000 and 2003. There the children learned camera basics, lighting, composition, the development of point-of-view, editing, and sequencing for narrative. To Zana’s delight, equipped with inexpensive point-and-shoot 35mm cameras, the children produced incredible work. Their images are explosions of color: self-portraits, family pictures, street scenes, stunning tableaus of Bengali life.

Ruby on Rails podcasts
Audio interviews with David Heinemeier Hansson, who invented Rails and manages it as an open source movement, plus Ruby on Rails heavyweights and pioneers including Dave Thomas, Chad Fowler, Rick Olson, and A List Apart’s Dan Benjamin.
Fairplay defined
Everything you ever wanted to know about the digital rights management technology built into Apple’s iPod, iTunes, and iTunes Music Store. (Except how to turn it off.)
Categories
A List Apart Design Standards work

A List Apart 209

In A List Apart’s year-end issue, Brian Crescimanno provides an extensive yet compact checklist of ways to make your site’s forms usable. And Molly E. Holzschlag stokes the flames of creativity (or of productive argument) by advising web designers to think outside the grid. The issue also features outstanding illustration work by Kevin Cornell and Jason Santa Maria.

Thanks for making ALA 4.0 great: Erin Kissane (editor), Dan Benjamin (system developer), Eric A. Meyer (CSS genius), Aaron Gustafson (production editor), Erin Lynch (assistant editor), and Damon Clinksales (data migration director). Thanks also to the people of TextDrive for hosting above and beyond. Thanks most of all to all of you for reading, bookmarking, debating, and in other ways contributing to A List Apart. Love on ya.

Categories
Design industry Publishing writing Zeldman

Style vs. Design

With our blessing, the newly launched Adobe Motion Design Center has resurrected our famous article, “Style vs. Design,” originally published in 2000. A few words and references have changed to bring the piece “up to date,” but it is essentially the same article it was five years ago.

First published when web design, buoyed by dot-com dollars, was at its most self-indulgent, the article dared to suggest …

  • That trendy elements are not the same as design
  • That design is communication
  • That most web design is meant to be used
  • That most web design should therefore be usable

It still makes these points and they are still true.

The good news is that in the five years since the article was new, responsible web design has emerged as a practice. And it is being practiced by many people who are first and foremost designers.

The bad news is that college and university design curricula are still mostly about everything but information architecture, usability, application design, user-focused design, accessibility, and web standards.

[tags]zeldman, adobe, style vs. design[/tags]

Categories
Design events links people Redesigns Tools

Roadside link jamboree

WHILE I’M WRAPPING Web Design World Boston, here are some links for your pleasure:

In Search of a Perfect Plug-in Technique
First we had Flash embedding the automated way. It worked in all browsers but it didn’t validate. Then came Flash Satay and UFO, FlashObject and Hixie’s nested objects. Which techniques are most accessible and most reliable? Macromedia accessibility expert and occasional A List Apart author Andrew Kirkpatrick checked them all out and drew conclusions worth reading.
gotomobile: the mobile usability and UX blog
In the U.S. a mobile phone is a cell phone for making phone calls. In the rest of the world it’s a rich two-way media device. Starting a year ago, renowned designer Kelly Goto began travelling the world researching how handhelds are used today and discovering the emerging principles of ubiquitous computing. Kelly, who is here lecturing at Web Design World, maintains this mobile usability and user experience blog, to which she posts from her handheld camera/phone/whatever.
Seed Magazine
This beautiful and well-written periodical explores the changing role of science in our global culture. New York’s own Mike Pick and Tim Murtaugh created the clean, elegant, and playful site design (check out the little colored seedlings at the top left).
DropSend
Got big files to share? Files so big you can’t email them? Files too big even for Basecamp hosting and posting? DropSend has you covered. This fresh-off-the-vine web application by Ryan Carson takes ease of use to a new level, working well and simply as advertised. I use it. Try it, you’ll like it.
Folksonomy is such a lonely word
In this New York Times Magazine feature, Daniel H. Pink explains folksonomies to the non-digerati. As most people reading this page know, “folksonomy” is IA Thomas Vander Wal’s 2004 coinage for the tag-powered, communal taxonomies that are not merely changing how websites and web products are structured but how information is perceived and categorized all over.
Greg Storey portfolio
I’ve always thought Greg Storey was a heck of a designer. Now you can more easily see for yourself just how good he is.
Oh, the Plazes you’ll go!
Plazes (beta) is a spanking new web app offering a “grassroot approach to location-aware interaction, using the local network you are connected to as location reference. Plazes allows you to share you location with the people you know and to discover people and plazes around you. It’s the navigation system for your social life and it’s absolutely free.” I’m using it right now and it is cool.
Categories
An Event Apart cities Design events people

An Event Apart Philadelphia Postpartum

I returned from An Event Apart Philadelphia with a head full of ideas, inspiration, and snot. Walking the snowy Franklin Parkway at 5:30 am after not sleeping for two nights in a row can give you a heck of a head cold. (It wasn’t nervousness about the show that kept me from sleeping; it was my fourteen-month-old’s nighttime restlessness. Will I take the kid on another business trip? You bet.) Mostly I came home happy to have pulled off our first travelling road show and pleased that it seemed to please most who attended.

Attendees came from as far away as Tokyo and London. There were plenty of locals, too. Philadelphia has a tight and engaged design community — you could see it and feel it.

There were problems. We were promised WI-FI for 150 people and barely had bandwidth for half that many. Some seats were more comfortable than others.

But most of the surprises were pleasant. Every attendee got a free book from New Riders—titles by Dan Cederholm, Hillman Curtis, Steve Krug, Marty Neumeier, Jakob Nielsen, Eric Meyer, and yours truly. Twenty people got free web hosting for a year courtesy of Media Temple. AIGA gave away posters, Pixelworthy gave away drinks. The event would not have been half so good without the caring support of these fine sponsors.

Jon Aldinger, Daniel Mall, Peter Santa Maria, and Rob Weychert provided invaluable ground support on the day of the show and the day before. Filmmaker Ian Corey videotaped the whole day for secret purposes that may be revealed at a later date.

The Philadelphia Standards Organization, blogging live, published the day’s schedule, to which we mostly adhered. In future posts here or at aneventapart.com I may talk more about what we covered and why. For now, I’ll defer to my co-host Eric Meyer, our special guest Jason Santa Maria, and various lovely people who came to the show:

No rest for the wicked

I am now at Web Design World, Boston; tomorrow I’ll keynote on web standards and do a session on the radically under-covered subject of writing as interface design. See some of you here and the rest when I return.