JavaScript and Accessibility - WebReference Update - 020221 | WebReference

JavaScript and Accessibility - WebReference Update - 020221

((((((((((((((((( WEBREFERENCE UPDATE NEWSLETTER ))))))))))))))))) February 21, 2002

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This week we take a look at JavaScript and accessibility. CNET's download.com provides an example. In other news Eric Costello talks CSS layouts, Clickz offers a contrarian view on text email PR, and Google tweaks its ad model. Don't miss the ongoing battle between Dave, Scott, and Jeffrey on CSS vs. tables.

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New this week on WebReference.com and the Web:

1. FEATURE: JavaScript and Accessibility 2. OTHER VOICES: * Introduction to CSS Layout * HTML Always Outperforms Text? * Cirkadia's new iNavigate 3.4 * CSS vs. Table Layout 3. NET NEWS: * Google Edges Closer to Overture Formula * Microsoft Opens Source Code Further

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 1. FEATURE: JavaScript and Accessibility

As MSNBC found for their Olympics.com site, relying solely on JavaScript to access your site is an accessibility barrier. Using JavaScript to enhance the Web browsing experience is great, but designing sites that rely solely on JavaScript for users to display and navigate your site should be used only in situations where you know who your users are (like an intranet for example). Case in point, CNET's download.com.

http://www.download.com/

Today, as I was updating an old Mac at an office, I wanted to upgrade the browser. The Mac had versions 2.1 and 3.X of Internet Explorer installed. 2.1 is ancient, but very fast, and without scripting. 3.X is small and fast and has scripting built in. You'd think that when upgrading your browser, download sites would have simple straightforward hypertext links to download new browsers. Not in this case.

The link to download Netscape 4.08 (the newest browser that would work on this particular machine) relied on JavaScript to work. No joy with IE 2.1. Trying the link with IE 3.01 with scripting turned on spawned a JScript error, and the page displayed as a large gray box. This is one case where you'd think that designers would realize that older browsers upgrading to a newer browser, might not have JavaScript or the latest version of JavaScript.

The best use of JavaScript is to enhance the user's experience, and/or save them clicks and calculations. Judicious layering of JavaScripts over (X)HTML is a user-friendly and accessible way to design pages. Gizmos like menus, news flippers, and navigation buttons that degrade to static links take more work, but are worth it for user satisfaction. (Not to mention avoiding accessibility reviews like this one).

I eventually found the browser at Netscape.com, but a less experienced user would probably give up in frustration. Frustrated users is perhaps an unintended consequence of inaccessible design. Delighted users is a better goal. By designing your sites to gracefully degrade, while providing what Jeffrey Zeldman calls "forward compatibility" you can ensure that your sites will work with the widest possible audience.

Addendum: Evolt.org story on JavaScript and link design: http://evolt.org/article/Links_and_JavaScript_Living_Together_in_Harmony/17/20938/ W3C WAI http://www.w3.org/TR/WAI-WEBCONTENT/ AT&T Web Design http://www.att.com/style/wc_access.html Kimihia: Bad Web Design: JavaScript dependence http://kimihia.org.nz/articles/javascript/

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 2. OTHER VOICES: Introduction to CSS Layout, HTML Always Outperforms Text?, Cirkadia's new iNavigate 3.4, CSS vs. Table Layout

* Introduction to CSS Layout

Eric Costello shows how to layout pages with CSS2. The article does a nice job of introducing authors to CSS2 layouts. Includes a real-world example of Apple's Developer Connection home page. http://developer.apple.com/internet/css/introcsslayout.html Apple's Developer Connection, Feb. 2002

* Webarian: Q&A with Brewster Kahle

The Guardian interviews the co-founder of Alexa and The Internet Archive. http://www.guardian.co.uk/online/story/0,3605,653286,00.html The Guardian, Feb. 21, 2002

* HTML Always Outperforms Text?

Don't Stake Your Career on It. When CareerJournal's campaign was emailed in text, HTML, and Flash, guess which version delivered the highest response? http://www.clickz.com/article.php/977571 Clickz.com, Feb. 21, 2002

* Cirkadia's new iNavigate 3.4

Cirkadia's new iNavigate 3.4 is a dynamic menu system that seemingly goes out of its way to get along with web designers who need tree-style menus. http://wdvl.internet.com/Reviews/Other/INav/ WDVL.com, Feb. 20, 2002

* CSS vs. Table Layout

Dave, Scott, and Jeffrey are pushing back over CSS vs. table layout. Don't miss the discussion, and let the best layout win. http://www.scripting.com http://www.scottandrew.com http://www.zeldman.com

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 3. NET NEWS: Google Edges Closer to Overture Formula, Microsoft Opens Source Code Further

* Google Edges Closer to Overture Formula Continuing its efforts to home in on Overture, Google is introducing cost-per-click pricing to its AdWords program http://www.internetnews.com/ent-news/article/0,,7_977491,00.html Internetnews.com, Feb. 20, 2002

* Microsoft Opens Source Code Further Despite its much-popularized mistrust of the open source model, Microsoft Corp. inched another step in that direction Thursday with an expansion of its Shared Source Initiative, a program which gives access to the Windows source code to certain customers, partners, developers and academics http://www.internetnews.com/dev-news/article/0,,10_978421,00.html Internetnews.com, Feb. 21, 2002

That's it for this Thursday. See you next time.

Andrew King Newsletter Editor, WebReference.com aking at internet dot com ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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