Styling the html element

In his article “HTML’s a Tag Too,” Bryan Veloso discusses the benefits of applying styles to the element. He argues that by making more effective use of , developers could eliminate the need for a wrapper div. Everything would effectively be “moved up” a level – apply global styles to instead of , and then can serve the same purpose as the wrapper div would have. Bryan points out that this can be particularly handy in XHTML 1.1, in which the no longer stretches the entire length of the page.

It’s a neat idea, but for many developers – particularly those of us who work on large, enterprise-level sites – it is simply impractical. On large sites, rarely would you want to declare a global background image, for example. Or, you may not be able to access certain elements of a page at all, due to CMS limitations or other restrictions. However, for a small-scale site, styling could be a good way to reduce divitis, as long as you’re mindful of scalability issues.

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Facelift for recently gave a slick re-design and they documented there thoughts and motivations so everyone can learn. The original design was drab with a large white space in the middle of the page. Also, the original design doesn’t consider the needs of its target audience, senior citizens. The new design is much easier to follow and more pleasing to the eye. Give the article a read to learn the specifics of what they changed and why they did what they did, which is the best way to learn good design.

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Looks like Microsoft is the latest to be guilty of a failed redesign. Their current homepage iteration sports a table-based layout circa 1998.

They’ve also released a beta preview of their new new homepage – which you can view only with Internet Explorer. (When I attempted to view the preview site in Firefox, I was simply redirected to the existing homepage.) The preview site appears to use semantic markup, although the source has been compacted down to only a few lines, so it’s nearly impossible to read. And with no Web Developer extension in IE, outlining all block-level elements (or all table cells) isn’t an option.

Funny that with the IE 7 team touting how standards-compliant the new browser will be, the Microsoft homepage flies in the face of standards. (Is that for-real ironic or only Alanis ironic?) Having worked for a few large corporations, I understand that one department’s products can appear to be the antithesis of another department’s, with the worker bees in both departments being none the wiser. Still, this is pretty egregious, given the emphasis Microsoft claims to be placing on web standards.

Although… we’ve been there before with Microsoft, haven’t we? Perhaps these things are cyclical.

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ClickTale: Watch what your visitors are doing

ClickTaleAnalytic services provide valuable stats to web site owners and can be the only way of determining if a design is really working or not with real users. ClickTale hopes to up the ante by recording user actions so you can see every mouse movement, every click, and every scroll. Then the service lets you, the owner, see exactly what the user did. Perfect for testing usability. Currently ClickTale is a closed beta but you can sign up for updates by email. A web 2.0 site that is plum purple? I like it.

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Pure nested CSS menus

Pure CSS has an interesting guide to creating a purely CSS-based nested-list menu. This technique uses absolutely no Javascript except for IE 5 for windows. Here is the list of supported browsers:

  • Mozilla 1+
  • Netscape 7+
  • Opera 7+
  • Safari build 60+
  • OmniWeb 4.5+
  • Konqueror 3.2+
  • IE 5.5+ on Windows (using DHTML behaviors)

Some browsers that don’t support this technique display styled nested-lists instead. Go check it out.

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IE 7 via Automatic Updates

According to a post on IEBlog, IE 7 will be distributed via WIndows Automatic Updates.

I’m confused now, because in the interview with Chris Wilson that I linked to yesterday, Chris seemed to definitely say that Microsoft won’t go that route in distributing updates. Or maybe when he said “pushing it out” he was referring to something other than Automatic Updates…?


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