Using Ajax Wisely

Ajax is a set of technologies that is used to rewrite part of a web page without a complete page refresh. Jesse James Garret coined the term to describe a set of technologies currently coming into their own. This happens by using JavaScript to send a request to the server for information and then using DOM based JavaScript to rewrite a portion of the web page with the data that is returned. Using this method allows for complex form validation while the user is filling out the form in stead of and in addition to validation following submission. This means that a user can enter their ZIP code for their shipping address and see the shipping charges added to the […]

sIFR – Typography for the Masses

I’ve started using the sIFR technique on the rest of this site and will be adding it to the weblog portion shortly. The scalable Inman Flash Replacement technique allows us to easily replace portions of the text on each page with a Flash movie. This allows me to display the text in whatever font I choose. For this site, I’m using Century Gothic. Visit Mike Davidson’s website to download the files and read about how to add sIFR to your site. This is a major breakthrough for designers who want a little bit more control of the typography on their site. sIFR degrades gracefully in browsers without a current version of the Flash plug-in installed or JavaScript enabled and meets […]

Information for Clients

I have added a few new pages to the Clients section of the site. The pages contain useful Information for Clients. I felt that it would be useful to educate clients in how to work with a designer effectively. We often hear designers complain about clients who drive them nuts. While there is no denying that clients often make requests with no grounding in reality at all, we can do more to educate them about what we do and how they can work with us to create great web sites.

JavaScript: The Right Way

I have been dealing a lot with the best way to incorporate JavaScript into web sites recently. It’s clear to me that there are many designers who never try to use their site with JavaScript turned off. This is not to say that using JavaScript is bad or wrong, simply that, like a gun, in the wrong hands it can lead to most unfortunate outcomes. If you plan to use JavaScript there are a few guidelines you should follow to minimize the casualties.

Alternate Content

One area where there is a lot of confusion in accessibility is the use of alternate content. There are questions about where it belongs, what form it should take, and whether it is acceptable or not. I’ll be addressing a few of the basics here. We’re going to leave more advanced questions like what to do with multimedia content for a later entry.

Site Update

I’ve made a few changes to the site, including creating some icons for the main navigation bar and styling the plain text navigation a bit better. I’ll likely make a few more tweaks to the design soon. The nav icons were built from scratch in Fireworks, zoomed in to 1600% and drawn pixel by pixel. I’m pretty happy with the result. Next I may try to make a set using some color to liven things up. You may notice some new content going up in the coming weeks in other sections. I’ll be finishing up a few projects and they will be added to the clients section along with a new case study or two. The sites are being written […]

Correcting Other People’s Mistakes

Zeldman wrote about redesigning web sites for companies that muck it up at no charge. I think this is an interesting topic, related to the topic of redesigning your own old sites to meet today’s standards. I am all for redesigning poorly built sites. You don’t need to do it for the money or exposure or anything like that. It is a good exercise to take big web sites that are poorly built and to redesign them to be standards compliant. Flex those CSS muscles a bit and find creative, elegant solutions to replace scary JavaScript messes or table hacks. It is good experience and training and having a project where you can apply all of those neat tricks you’ve […]

New Web Site: Applied Safety & Ergonomics

A new site that I designed has just launched. It is for Applied Safety & Ergonomics in Ann Arbor, MI. The site (at least the template) is valid XHTML Transitional. The design is pretty simple and fits nicely to what they asked for. You can view it at This is a fine company that I’ve had the pleasure to work with for the last year or so and should you ever need someone to review your safety manual or warning labels they are the ones to go to.

IE Development

Dave Massy has started work with the reconstituted Internet Explorer team at Microsoft. There is something in the neighborhood of a billion comments on his weblog with suggestions for what they should be working on. Not really that hard since there are so many things that need fixing in IE. However, rather than slam MS for IE’s failings I’d rather congratulate them for their renewed efforts to solicit feedback from developers and restart development on IE. Microsoft is dedicating resources to solicit an overwhelming amount of feedback and put developers back into the browser race and I applaud their effort. I hope that we will start to see some real results in the near future.