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Mon, Jan 22, 2018 5:26 pm

This page intentionally left blank

Books and other documents may often include pages intentionally left blank stating "This page [is] intentionally left blank." As explained in the Wikipedia intentionally blank page article, this is often done due to the way pages are printed from a much larger sheet of paper or for legal reasons. On the web you can find an online equivalent in The This Page Intentionally Left Blank (TPILB) Project which notes:

In former times printed manuals had some blank pages, usually with the remark “this page intentionally left blank”. In most cases there had been technical reasons for that. Today almost all blank pages disappeared and if some still exist here and there, they present flatterly comments like “for your notes” instead of the real truth: This page intentionally left blank!

Nowadays the “This Page Intentionally Left Blank”-Project (TPILB-Project) tries to introduce these blank pages to the Web again. One reason is to keep alive the remembrance of these famous historical blank pages. But it is the primary reason to offer internet wanderers a place of quietness and simplicity on the overcrowded World Wide Web—a blank page for relaxing the restless mind.

Since I sometimes want to take browser screenshots that display options that are available in various browsers, but would prefer not to have any webpage content displayed in those screenshots, I've also created a this page intentionally left blank" page.

[/network/web/design] permanent link

Sun, Mar 30, 2014 10:38 pm

OnlineWebCheck HTML Validator

I've been using the Markup Validation Service provided by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to check for errors in the HTML code for webpages on this site, but recently came across another such free service, the Free HTML & CSS Validation Service at OnlineWebCheck.com. Like the W3C service, you can provide a URL for your website to be analyzed for HTML errors. The service will display any errors found on a submitted page and warnings for page elements that aren't errors, but which may deserve closer scrutiny. The online service is free and allows you to check URLs one-by-one. The service uses CSE HTML Validator Pro, which is software that runs on Microsoft Windows systems, or Linux and Mac OSX with Wine. There is a free version of that software available for download as well as paid versions with more features - see Compare CSE HTML Validator Editions. I haven't yet tried that software on a Microsoft Windows system yet, though, but have only used the online validation service.

I found the service yesterday when the W3C service wasn't responding. One warning I received for a submitted page was for the lack of a language specification within the <HTML> start tag. The warning was:

The natural primary language is not specified. It is highly recommended that the "lang" and/or "xml:lang" (for XHTML) attributes be used with the "html" element to specify the primary language. For example, add the attribute lang="en" for English or lang="fr" for French. Specifying the language assists braille translation software, speech synthesizers, translation software, and has other benefits.

<html>

I had been including the following within the <head> section:

<meta name="language" content="english">

The OnlneWebCheck.com validator noted in regards to it, though:

Remove this meta tag and use the "lang" attribute on the "html" element if trying to specify the document's language, or use a "dcterms.language" meta tag instead. Furthermore, "language" is not a recognized metadata name. Visit http://www.w3.org/TR/html5/document-metadata.html#standard-metadata-names and http://wiki.whatwg.org/wiki/MetaExtensions for more information.

<meta name="language" content="english">

Though the W3C validation service had never issued any warnings nor errors related to the lack of inclusion of the language attribute within the <HTML> tag or use of the meta tag, at the W3C site at Specifying the language of content: the lang attribute webpage, I found:

Language information specified via the lang attribute may be used by a user agent to control rendering in a variety of ways. Some situations where author-supplied language information may be helpful include:
  • Assisting search engines
  • Assisting speech synthesizers
  • Helping a user agent select glyph variants for high quality typography
  • Helping a user agent choose a set of quotation marks
  • Helping a user agent make decisions about hyphenation, ligatures, and spacing
  • Assisting spell checkers and grammar checkers

The recommendation made for assisting search engines and browsers to determine the language for webpages is to include the language attribute within the <html> tag as shown below:

<html lang="en">
...
</html>

Or for XHTML:

<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" lang="en" xml:lang="en">
...
</html>

So, I decided to modify the template that I use for pages to include the language attribute within the <html> tag, i.e., to use <html lang="en">, and to include the attribute within the <html> tag for Blosxom's head.html file.

If a page is in another language than English, the appropriate code can be chosen from the ISO 639-1 two-letter language codes. ISO 639-1 defines abbreviations for languages. In HTML and XHTML they can be used in the lang and xml:lang attributes.

[/network/web/design] permanent link

Sat, Mar 29, 2014 10:19 am

Cell Padding in a Table

There are multiple ways to add padding around text within cells in a table. Specifying <table cellpadding="ypx"> with y representing the number of pixels of padding will add padding to the left, right, top, and bottom of the text. If you only wish to have additional padding at the left and right of the text, you can do so by CSS, e.g.:
<style type="text/css">
   .padded {padding-left: 10px; padding-right: 10px;}
</style>

You can then apply the class "padded" to each td in the table.

[ More Info ]

[/network/web/design] permanent link

Sun, Mar 23, 2014 1:31 pm

W3C Validation

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international standards organization for the World Wide Web (WWW). Among the services offered by the W3C are a Markup Validation Service a Link Checker, a CSS Validation Service, and RSS Feed Validation Service. The services are free.

The markup validation service allows you to submit a URL for a webpage to be checked by the service or to upload an HTML file to be checked for incorrect HTML code. If the code in a webpage is incorrect, you may not see the results you expect for the webpage when it is displayed in a browser or it may display incorrectly in some browsers used by visitors to the page. The W3C tool will notify you of the types of errors on the page and the line numbers on which they are found. You can match those lines numbers with the appropriate lines in the code in browsers that allow you to view the source code of a page.

You can provide a URL to the link checker tool and it will determine if any of the links on the webpage are invalid.

The CSS validation service allows you to check the validity of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) used on webpages to control the appearance and formatting of the pages. You can provide a URL for a CSS or upload a CSS file to be verified.

The W3C Feed Validation Service will check the syntax of Atom or RSS feeds. E.g., if you use RSS to publish updated information on blog entries, you can provide the URL for the index.rss file on your site.

The W3C provides other tools as well at Quality Assurance Tools. All of the software developed at the W3C is Open Source / Free software, which means that you can use the software for free and download the code, if you wish. You can also modify the code to suit your own purposes, if you wish.

There is also a paid W3C Validator Suite™, if you wish to have the W3C validate an entire site automatically rather than you validating pages individually.

Note: the W3C validation services can't check pages that require authentication, but can only check pages that are accessible from the Internet without passwords or files that you upload to be checked.

[/network/web/design] permanent link

Fri, Dec 02, 2005 7:15 am

Top Ten Mistakes in Web Design

I came across a webpage Top Ten Mistakes in Web Design that echoes many of my pet peeves regarding websites.
  1. Bad Search

    I appreciate it it when websites offer a means to search the site. Sometimes I've been looking for a paricular piece of information on a business site that has many webpages. I expect the information to be there, but would certainly prefer not to spend a lot of time clicking on various webpages trying to find it. But the site will offer no or very limited search capabilities, leaving me frustrated with the site. Fortunately, Google offers one a means to search a specific site, e.g. suppose one wishes to search for SomeCompany's phone number on their website. I could go to Google's site and enter "phone site:somecompany.com" to search for "phone" only on the somecompany.com website. But, of course, I won't be able to find any pages posted on the site subsequent to the Google search engine's last index of the site.
  2. PDF Files for Online Reading

    When I'm looking for a manual for a particular piece of hardware or software, I like to be able to download the manual in PDF format from a website, so that I can store it on my computer for easy reference later. But I find some sites use PDF files in what I consider to be inappropriate ways. For instance, I've gone to a website to get information on a particular piece of software I'm interested in buying. There's a link on the site to view what the company views as the main features of the software. The link points to a PDF file, which when opened shows a one-page list of the software's main features. Why didn't the company present that as a webpage? By presenting it as a PDF file, they've interrupted my perusal of their site. I have to wait for the PDF file to be downloaded and Adobe Acrobat Reader to be opened on my system to view it, slowing me down. Of course, I also want pricing information. I've got to download another PDF file to get the pricing. At this point I'm wondering if they considered usability in their software design.
  3. Not Changing the Color of Visited Links

    I also find it aggravating when visited links are displayed in the same color as ones I haven't visited. Why would a site designer make them the same. I'm slowed down when perusing a site, because I can't tell if I've already viewed a particular page while searching for information.
  4. Non-Scannable Text

    I've seen webpages where the entire page is just one blob of undifferentiated text, making it less attractive than it could be and making it harder to read. I don't get too aggravated by that, though, unless the webpage is not even broken up into manageable paragraphs.
  5. Fixed Font Size

    I've seen a number of websites where the text is presented in a tiny font that I can hardly read. This occurs on business sites as well as other sites. I'm not going to put my face up next to my monitor and squint to read the webpage. I quickly leave sites that have such webpages.
  6. Page Titles With Low Search Engine Visibility

    Put a descriptive title on your webpages. I often have many instances of Internet Explorer or other browsers open at once on a system. At the bottom of my Windows screen I see the Internet Explorer icon with the number of webpages I have open. I can click on that icon and see the titles for the pages. Some websites don't put descriptive titles on their webpages or put ones that make it difficult to determine which site the page is associated with or what information is contained on the page. For instance, right now, in my list is a webpage titled "Home". That happens to be the homepage for my credit union, but I've had these browser instances open for a couple of days now and when I look at the list it isn't immediately apparent that "Home" is the homepage of my credit union. After all, how many other websites my use the same description for their main page? And when I want to bookmark a page, I often have to change how it will be saved, because the webpage designer didn't put a title on the page that clearly describes it. Sometimes the problem is that the title is incredibly long, which I shorten when I bookmark the page, so that I won't have issues when I try to backup such a long file name to a CD when I backup my "favorites" list, since the name might otherwise exceed the allowable filename length.
  7. Anything That Looks Like an Advertisement

    I also tend to ignore things that look like banner ads and find that any flashing or blinking text tends to be annoying unless it is highlighting something that is truly critical. And I tend to close popup windows before their contents are even displayed when I suspect they will be advertisements.
  8. Violating Design Conventions

    Basically, users will get frustrated if things don't work the way they expect them to work.
  9. Opening New Browser Windows

    It can be annoying when your visiting a site and the site opens a lot of new windows on your system. You can't back up with the back button on your browser.
  10. Not Answering Users' Questions

    Jakob Nielson lists this as number 10 on his list of "Top Ten Mistakes in Web Design", but for me it would be much higher on the list. If I'm interested in a product, I want to know its price immediately. Yet many business sites don't list their pricing. You must get the prices by sending an email or calling someone. Do they think this will make me more likely to buy? Do they think "if you have to ask, you can't afford it?"

    In the case of some "enterprise" software packages, the pricing is geared for medium or large corporations, i.e. you are expected to buy a license that will gove 50 or more systems. Well, let me know that immediately. And if the minimum license is a 10-user license, let me know its price on the website, so I know immediately whether the product is suitable for a small business that may only be able to afford a couple of hundred dollars for the product.

    If I can't find pricing on a compable product elsewhere, I may come back to a site that doesn't offer pricing and get the phone number or email address, but the odds are I won't be back to the site and will be buying a competitor's product instead. One of the strong points of the Web is that you can get instant answers to questions at any time of the day or night, even on holidays. And most of my web surfing is done outside of normal business hours, so I'm not going to have to wait until the next business day just to find out if the price is reasonable for my requirements. So I find it very irritating when sites won't provide pricing on the site.

[/network/web/design] permanent link

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