Author: Heydon Pickering
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It's one thing to create a web application and quite another to keep it accessible — independent of the device that the user is using and its capabilities. That's why Heydon Pickering, now the accessibility editor on Smashing Magazine, wrote an eBook Apps For All: Coding Accessible Web Applications, outlining the roadmap for well-designed, accessible applications.
This article is an excerpt of a chapter in the eBook that introduces many of the ideas and techniques presented. Reviewed by Steve Faulkner, it's an eBook you definitely shouldn't miss if you're a developer who cares about well-structured content and inclusive interface design. – Ed.
Because the W3C’s mission from the outset has been to make the web accessible, accessibility features are built into its specifications. As responsible designers, we have the job of creating compelling web experiences without disrupting the inclusive features of a simpler design.Read more...
“Form ever follows function. This is the law.” So said the architect and “father of skyscrapers” Louis Sullivan. For architects not wishing to crush hundreds of innocent people under the weight of a colossal building, this rule of thumb is pretty good.
In design, you should always lead with function, and allow form to emerge as a result. If you were to lead with form, making your skyscraper look pretty would be easier, but at the cost of producing something pretty dangerous. So much for architects. What about front-end architects — or “not real architects,” as we are sometimes known?Read more...
Whatever you call them — blocks, boxes, areas, regions — we’ve been dividing our Web pages into visible sections for well over a decade. The problem is, we’ve never had the right tools to do so. While our interfaces look all the world like grids, the underlying structure has been cobbled together from numbered headings and unsemantic helper elements; an unbridled stream of content at odds with its own box-like appearance.
Because we can make our
<div>s look but not behave like sections, the experience for assistive technology (AT) users and data-mining software is quite different from the experience enjoyed by those gifted with sight.
Classes, classes, classes everywhere. What if we don’t need CSS classes at all? What if we stopped worrying about how many classes we’re using and what we should be calling them and just finished with them once and for all? It would be no revelation to you to say that HTML elements can be styled without recourse to the
class attribute, but have you considered the multitude of benefits that come from forgoing classes altogether.
In this article, we’ll demonstrate that the class is as antiquated and inappropriate for styling as the table is for layout, and that omitting them can discipline us to create more usable, reusable content. I appreciate that this is a contentious subject; I’ll meet you in the comments.Read more...
In this article, I’d like to reacquaint you with the humble workhorse of communication that is the paragraph. Paragraphs are everywhere. In fact, at the high risk of stating the obvious, you are reading one now. Despite their ubiquity, we frequently neglect their presentation. This is a mistake. Here, we’ll refer to some time-honored typesetting conventions, with an emphasis on readability, and offer guidance on adapting them effectively for devices and screens. We’ll see that the ability to embed fonts with
@font-face is not by itself a solution to all of our typographic challenges.
In 1992, Tim Berners-Lee circulated a document titled “HTML Tags,” which outlined just 20 tags, many of which are now obsolete or have taken other forms. The first surviving tag to be defined in the document, after the crucial anchor tag, is the paragraph tag. It wasn’t until 1993 that a discussion emerged on the proposed image tag.Read more...