Another vote for XHTML wireframes

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At the Blue Flavor blog, Nick Finck casts another vote for making XHTML wireframes. I have to admit I find this idea appealing. Granted (and he grants this himself), it may not be the right approach for every client, but the prospect of creating blueprints and schematics that don’t get thrown away after they’re approved but that actually help give the web developers a leg up, is mighty appealing:

So why? Why would we want to do XHTML wireframes? Wouldn’t it take more time to do them in XHTML than it would in Visio or something? Well, yes and no. Yes, you would have to code the XHTML, but that would need to be done at some point anyway. Yes it may seem like it’s slower to create wireframes in XHTML but once you have done your first website using this method a lot of the same markup can be repurposed especially when it comes to navigation and various methods of displaying information on a page like multi-column lists and so forth.
In the end it’s actually more efficient to be building wireframes in XHTML and even navigation schemas because you can see exactly how it works and you only spend the energy necessary to create it once, not twice (once in Visio and once in XHTML).

(via Thomas Vander Wal)

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On Nudity and CSS

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Today (April 05, 2006) has officially been earmarked as CSS Naked Day. The aim of this project is to promote web standards by showing the world what each site looks like sans markup. Those who sign up for the project agree to remove all CSS styling from their website for that day. The result is well, a site without a style sheet.

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Notes on "Web Standards and SEO: Searching for Common Ground, Part 2" panel at South by Southwest (day 3)

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Web Standards and SEO
Panelists

  • Aaron Gustafson: Sr Web Designer/Dev, Easy! Designs LLC
  • Ed Shull: CEO, USWeb (Web marketing)
  • Eric Meyer: Complex Spiral Consulting, Standards Nazi
  • Andy Hagans: works in SEO, blogs at Performancing.com

white hat vs. black hat SEO
Shull:

  • cloaking (visible only to search engine)
  • linkspamming
  • comment spamming
  • hiding tables in javascript to make the content show up higher in results (“cheating?”)

Meyer:

  • blackhat is anyone who’s cheating
  • sneaky techniques… at least grayhatting
  • I’m asked too speak at search engine conferences for reasons I don’t understand. At one
  • I was spammed in person on the conference floor

Hagans:
As an SEO I make it my business to know all the weapons in the arsenal. Search engines are getting smarter, so the business case for blackhat getting weaker. I don’t like to get into the moral argument… its gets kind of old.
Professional SEO involves regular testing and writing software. In the long run blackhat doesn’t make sense: you’ll get caught and penalized. Accessibility and web standards = whitehat SEO already.
Copywriting and SEO
Gustafson:
Good content for the page, semantic markup all help.
Shull:
We work with a lot of publishers (example: Forbes). Copy is the thing. Every title on their page said “Forbes.com.” They were excited to learn they could change it, but they just wanted “Forbes.com: The capitalist tool.” We got them to put the article names up there.
When the Hummer H3 coming out, we let our clients know about search terms coming up in their space. The Forbes article title was “Baby Hummer” which didn’t help them with “Hummer H3.” Instead of “Martha Stewart Goes to Prison,” “Stewart Goes to Prison” [so we had to get them to use better descriptive titles on the web pages].
Meyer:
The role of copywriting is to get people to like the site and link to it.
Hagans:
I agree: being linkable more important than the code. Re copywriting, you need to understand usability, accessibility, and SEO as well as marketing. Use alt text. Don’t use “click here.”
Meyer:
The alt attribute is important. Title is most often used for snarky comments.
Hagans:
Linking algorithms have killed most of the old tricks. Using common structural elements: h1, good link anchors are the most important things.
Question: Better to use h1 for name of site or page/article title?
Answer: The title.
Descriptive page titles, good navigation, good anchor text
Someone (I forget who):
Personally, I love site maps. another way to make sure every page on your site has a link into it
Google allows you to upload an xml version of your sitemap.
Microformats
Meyer:
Microformats have a whole lot of potential, not yet a lot of payoff. One example, link rel=”license”, Yahoo has a Creative Commons search that looks for that rel attribute/value.
In the works: hresume. Would enable, for example, a search among resumes of people Jeffrey Zeldman regards as friends
Shull:
You can use SEO as a way to sell web standards.
Hagans:
Getting to 508 helps, but after that you don’t get much. Still, it’s important to get the low-hanging fruit.
Question: Clients view SEO as a different project. How do you explain to them that it’s inherent in good web design?
Answer: Educate them.
Mention of Matt Cutts, Google search engineer who outs black hats on his blog.
tags: ,

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Oracle UI guidelines

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A discussion on a BayCHI mailing list led an Oracle UI engineer to post a link to these user interface guidelines. They present a fascinating look at a meticulously documented set of user-interface standards. The documentation specifies overarching standards, page elements, page-type templates, and numerous process flows. The description of partial page rendering provides a great deal of detail and guidance without ever once mention the A**x word.
On the downside, the actual web page titles are fairly cryptic. Isn’t there a standard for that?

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