As I consider it an essential issue to read up on debates regarding standards in the world wide web. It is without wonder that I discovered an article on Asterisk, called Web Standards = 100% Validation?, where he says,
does Web standards mean validation and nothing less?
I read the comments, which amused me highly, to see the debate heat up increasingly. It saddens me when people always become excessively meticulous over bad spelling. I'm a good debater, and I hate it when people lose track of the real issues. Personally, I'm all for progress. I have been known for accidentally forgetting about ampersands and other entities but I strive and strive to earn a pittance as a web systems programmer. I applaud their efforts; it is the way forward, which will help people in my field attain true fulfilment.
After reading the article, I found a further article on Rich's blog which summed things up for me:
Do not jump into XHTML transitional because it is the cool thing to do, you should first aim to learn about the semantic web, what tags are, and are not allowed, and how accessibility is affected with certain tags…
…The era of the all in one web designer and developer is ending; the two aspects of the Internet should be treated separately. Master one and get help with the other. Do not try to go for both at once, a poor designer and a poor programmer makes for a bad developer, a good programmer and a good designer can learn from each other, and produce better websites to boot.
Source: Ten Steps to a More Standards Compliant Internet
Moreover, this is it. Taking gradually enlightening steps to our goals. Walking before flying, in the knowledge that all our achievements have been awarded worthwhile on our slow, and sure, ascendancy to the top rung of the ladder. I think we ought to take a few steps back every now and then to see where we really have taken things. I try my absolute best to achieve the standards that I follow. People definitely deserve appreciation when it's due.
I think I have one niggle though. People often refer to validation and the W3C validator as if they were the same thing. No. Validation against a
DOCTYPE is something that can be done ourselves. Of course there are many standards to validate against. I wish to outline several standards that may, or may not, be of importance to you:
- XHTML & HTML validation,
- accessibility validation,
- company standards (I know I work to a drafted and re-drafted programming policy),
- and your peers.
I know this may seem like a vague list but it rings true for me every time. I believe that my peers are the guiding factor. The peers closest to me - i.e. my partners in design - have the greatest influence; but the people who inspire me have given me food for thought and will continue to aid my development.
Looking through some past articles on various archives I've noticed a discussion about using headings as links. Being an HCI enthusiast/student, I wanted to look deeper at it.
I was reading an article on Design by fire which is discussing the elements of good usability. He wishes to consider if we are reducing the challenge, and making things too obvious. It reminded me of a debate occurring between Anne and Mike. I take you first to Anne's discussion where he says:
The main reason, which I already send to Mike in private e-mail, was that my clients didn't understand that headers could be links. They thought, although the links were styled exactly the same in headers as in normal text, that it was for decoration and they asked me why the 'more' button was missing.
Source: A header should not be a link stupid!
Upon looking at the conversation on Mikes blog I could analyse it a little better:
I can tell you right now that it's 36:108 - header:paragraph (for the current data snapshot, we have more). There are a lot of other options on the homepage, we are looking to evaluate this within the context off all of the available options too.
Source: Can headings be links?
The arguments tended to lead to the conclusion that the ideal method would be to use descriptive links rather than presuming that the user will be able to perceive the headings will lead to a certain location. I think it would be worth quoting the WCAG for this:
Clearly identify the target of each link. [Priority 2]
Link text should be meaningful enough to make sense when read out of context -- either on its own or as part of a sequence of links. Link text should also be terse.
For example, in HTML, write "Information about version 4.3" instead of "click here". In addition to clear link text, content developers may further clarify the target of a link with an informative link title (e.g., in HTML, the "title" attribute).
Source: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines - Provide clear navigation mechanisms.
There are a multitude of articles which guide and interpret these things. Ultimately we should be looking to our users and helping them with their experience. This is why I have altered my design to be more obvious to the average Joe. I could have left the permalink in the heading but I believe there would be nothing more confusing than the same location repeated twice in a document.
All this being said, I would like to return to the article at Design by fire. Obviously what was said was more of a musing than anything else but I want to bear it in mind:
Should your design work require your users think? Should your design work not allow users to potentially be lax mentally, so they can glide thoughtlessly through your website, software or product you?ve designed that they interact with on an ongoing basis? Or should every control and widget be labeled explicitly? Should every set of instructions be aimed at the most inexperienced user?
Should everything be so damned obvious all of the time?
Source: Please make me think! Potential dangers in usability culture.
Are we sometimes being to easy for users? I, personally, believe people shouldn't be using computers when they are so ineducated. Obviously I don't think that people should be prohibited from using computers, accessing resources on the internet, and sending emails; but they should be provided with some rudimentary education. Too many technophiles don't pay enough attention to the rules, regulations, and just blindly tap away. I believe in aiding the learning experience but what line do we truly draw between making it too easy and offering the basic usability and accessibility? It's definitely food for thought. I have modified my website design accordingly…