Q & A

I just heard how much we paid to have our Web site redone the last time, why was it so much [compared to what we might pay now]?

The main reason is probably that your department never compared prices. But don't worry, you're not the only ones. The folks over at Sitepoint indicated the following in a recent newsletter:

I completed a quick survey of our Web design clients, and found that of the last 10 clients, just 3 had received proposals from other Web designers...

...There is no such thing as a standard price for Web development. Each developer has different skills, different knowledge, different overheads, different markets, etc. Are your clients comparing your quote with others? Or does the importance of your price take a backseat to your skillset and capabilities? Could your market bear a higher price?

Two important things. First, if skillset is most important, than maybe the price was right to get that skillset. More likely though is the other point, that your department probably did not shop around for quotes. The fact is that too often folks pay too much because they have someone handy and don't really know what the market price is. This is one of the reasons we have the vendor list.

When is it appropriate for a link to open a new window?

In my opinion, very rarely. There are two good rules though. Don't do it often. When you do do it, do it consistently.

A common practice is to open a new window (or tab) whenever someone leaves "my site." But what is my site: my department, the College, the University? As with most things the answer is to look to your users. Most will think of the University as a collective, maybe the college, but rarely a smaller unit. Decide what the rule you're going to follow is and stick to it. Another rule I've seen people use is only to open new windows for links off of a links list page.

The bottom line is, use your judgment... and you're probably doing it too much. :-)

 

Web Policy Review

Design Formats

Section IV.A.1.C. of the University Web Policy indicates that all Web sites should conform to some overall Design Format. Design Formats are to be determined at the Dean, Director or higher level. The Design Formats are an attempt to bring greater consistency to the University Web sites while preserving the ability of those units (such as colleges) with a need to market themselves to do so while minimizing the effort that goes into administrative and support sites with little or no need to market through their Web sites but whose sites are fundamentally informative in nature.

If you do not know what Design Format you should be using, please check with your college or administrative area. If you're not sure who to check with, contact the Web Services office.

Macromedia Dreamweaver 8 Review

http://www.macromedia.com/software/studio/

Macromedia has just released its latest version of the world's leading Web site editing software, Dreamweaver, as well as its related products Fireworks, Flash, etc. The early reviews are good, so we'll share ours here. Before beginning, if you are using Dreamweaver MX or earlier, we have to recommend an upgrade. If you are using Dreamweaver MX 2004 and use modern standards and CSS-based design, we would also recommend an upgrade. Dreamweaver is once again a clear leader over FrontPage, however, we cannot recommend for or against switching as a new version of FrontPage is due out next year.

The first thing one notices about Dreamweaver 8 is that for once the interface is similar to the previous version. Dreamweaver does import some convenient features from Adobe products including the way it plugs in objects such as Flash movies and the ability to use guide lines. Guide lines are just for visual use in placing things on the page and are strictly part of the visual experience, they are not part of the Web page document.

The biggest improvements in this new version of Dreamweaver are in its support for CSS. First of all, its overall standards compliance is improved and it generally produces better quality code than the last version. There is also a new CSS tab on the right that makes working with styles much easier. The neatest new feature, however, is a new view button that lets the user direct Dreamweaver to show the various layers at work using either borders or backgrounds. As with the guidelines these are not changes to the page, just visual appearances in Dreamweaver to make working with it easier.

Users will also find it much easier to work in the Design view to access and edit the size and position of each layer as well as its padding and its margin, essential concepts in the CSS box model.

One last major point to look at. When creating a new object, one can specify the document type and thus the standards to apply (e.g., XHTML 1.0 Transitional). Once that is done, Dreamweaver 8 does an excellent job of keeping code compliant with that standard. The effect may turn out to be most notable when cutting and pasting from Microsoft Word documents. In the past when doing this, one was often stuck with lots of bizarre, proprietary Microsoft HTML code and styles or, after stripping all that cod out, with a lot of hand work to make the page look the way it did previously in Word. The new Dreamweaver 8 does a great job of copying from Microsoft Word, creating a page that looks appropriate to the way the text looked before, but without all of the strange Microsoft code.

A few other notable changes include better use of database objects, support for RSS feeds and the ability to preview a page as it would display for different devices, including screen (browser), printer and portable devices.

Much Ado About Sex And Web Sites

Any survey that makes generalizations based on gender should, in my view, be taken with more than a grain of salt. However, recognizing things as generalizations sometimes helpful information will emerge.

A recent study follows-up on work done on print documents and how they are experienced by men and women and applies that research to the Web. The research comes in three parts:

  1. Web sites designed by men tend strongly to have a series of characteristics which the researchers could label "masculine" (conversely they could label another set of characteristics "feminine").
  2. Men tend to respond to "masculine" Web sites and women tend to respond to "feminine" Web sites.
  3. Web site managers can benefit from being aware of these biases and how they may be reflected in their Web sites.

So what are those characteristics? The researchers identified the following as "feminine" characteristics:

  • Fewer links
  • Informal language
  • More abbreviations
  • Rounded corners
  • Avoidance of horizontal layouts
  • Informal typography
  • More colors
  • More pictures of women

Site Reviews

Remember to check any links you may have that point to these sites, as the pages may have changed.

Updates

Teach Me HTML v. 1.6
http://www.webmasterfree.com/teach.html

A recommendation from one of our folks here on campus, we have not tested it at Web Services.

Google Blog Search
http://www.google.com/blogsearch
Opera Is Now Free Without Ads
http://www.opera.com/
Got Layout? Internet Explorer’s page layout secrets
http://www.sitepoint.com/blogs/2005/09/01/

A really interesting article that explains the origin of many of the CSS bugs found in IE 6 including those resolved by the famous "Holly Hack."

CSS Tip: Design Print-Friendly Pages
http://www.netmechanic.com/news/vol8/css_no5.htm

Good advice for everyone. It is not a matter of whether people should print your pages but whether they will. This article provides some easy helps for doing it right. For those learning CSS this will also help move your thinking in the direction away from traditional graphic design which is frozen in form to the Web as its own medium.

The Growing Popularity of Alternative Browsers
http://www.netmechanic.com/news/vol8/brow_no5.htm

Not sure I buy the exact statistics, but the point is good. IE while still the biggest player on the block does not hold the monopoly it used to.

Seven Screen Reader Usability Tips
http://www.sitepoint.com/article/screen-reader-usability-tips

All good points and every one, while designed to help with accessibility and screen readers, will improve your Web site for other purposes as well.

Jakob Nielsen on the Unwieldy Web
http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/05_39/b3952418.htm
ScreenGrab & Devboi for Firefox
http://www.sitepoint.com/blogs/2005/10/02/screengrab-devboi-for-firefox/
FOR FUN: NASA World Wind 1.3
http://worldwind.arc.nasa.gov/

Notes from Campus

UK HealthCare

Frustrated with the limitations of Dreamweaver's link checker? Don't like that the W3C engine only checks one page at a a time? Xenu Link Sleuth is a downloadable program which will check links across an entire site. Xenu will even notify you when your link points to a redirection. It's easy to download and run, and makes the work of maintaining links much easier. NOTE: Xenu or any other link checker will not be able to tell you when a link works but is simply connected to the wrong page.

ADA Task Force

Spider Web Woman offers lots of good information on using Microsoft FrontPage to create accessible Web sites. Anyone using FrontPage who is also concerned about accessibility (which should be all FrontPage users) should take a look at this site. The site also contains useful information for those using other software to design their Web sites.

Medical Center

Be professional: be inspired but don't copy. Setting aside any legal issues or copyright concerns, it is ethically questionable, unprofessional and embarrassing to everyone at the University when any of us makes a new site by copying another Web site in such a way that the similarity is indisputable. The fact that it may be different enough to avoid legal jeopardy is beside the point. It makes all of us look incompetent when some of us lack the creativity to make our own sites without stealing complete designs from others. Being inspired by others' designs is flattery; simply copying is a sign of a lack of competence.

 

Important Dates

TRAINING UPDATE: Web@UK - TBA
Register: http://www.uky.edu/
HR/HRD/Training/
ClassReg.html

South on November 14, 2 p.m., TBD

North on November 15, 2 p.m., TBD