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August 2005

Hiya,I've just been doing some XHTML/CSS work for an intranet site and trying to pull it into a good cross browser layout... Inevitably, after making everything look pretty in FireFox I tested in IE... *eek*.Anyway, this set me on the rumour trail of when Microsoft are going to get it together with standards compliance rendering.

I'm happy to say I came across this on IEBlog. If these fixes are truly implimented, we are going to see a hell of a lot more sexy sites out there.

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We have introduced RSS feeds to the University news website. The whole news and events system was rebuilt over the past 6 months and RSS feeds were always something we wanted to do and now we have finally got them live. We will now work on refining them and adding feeds to the events.

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In a follow-up to his piece on Information Architecture for the People, Joshua Kaufman has produced Getting IA done Part II. A very practical and useful article, go read it if you are interested in IA.

I was particularly keen on tip #6: From concept to XHMTL.

Learn to do wireframes in XHTML and CSS. You will save time for those that follow you in the workflow. You will also get regularly brought into later stages of the development that you, as an IA, were left out of in the past.

As someone who has become distanced from the coding process as I have worked more as an IA, I can see the benefits of this. It is important that those designing have some idea about how their designs will be implemented. One of my aims for the next six months is to brush up on my code. (I'm gonna need a lot of help...)

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A blog worth watching: Syndication for Higher Ed.

Exploring emerging practice in RSS, podcasting, and blogging on Higher Ed websites.

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Promotional email using 'rich' techniques such as html and flash has always been a minefield. Not everyone agrees that it is the best way to reach potential students or clients, but like it or not, it's not going away. Just subscribe to any commercial newsletter service and you will find that the days of text-only promotional emails are well and truly over. This is despite the fact that many email programs, both stand-alon and online, don't actually download all parts of such emails automatically.

Sitepoint is offering a few tips to navigate this highly contentious area: Rich media email best practices. It focusses on Flash but offers much to think about for anyone considering or already sending emails that go beyond the text.

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The latest issue of Witchita State University's Usability News includes items on the effect of line length and multiple columns on online reading. Anybody know of anyone at Sydney doing similar academic work that may be of use to those of us general staff who work in the field of web dev?

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A very simple but effective idea for keeping an eye on what is being said about your institution on blogs from collegewebeditor. Simply set up some technorati tag watchlists on some key phrases and subscribe to them in your favoured news reader. Possibly a useful tool for keeping an eye on what potential students are thinking?

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Just what we need: a study has found that men and women prefer markedly different designs when it comes to websites.

For the study, researchers looked at personal Web sites created by 30 men and 30 women and found obvious differences in their use of language, visuals and navigation. Men tended to use straight lines rather than curves, fewer background and typeface colors, more formal typography, and language with fewer abbreviations. Men also were more prone to "promote themselves and their abilities heavily," the study found.

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Although Web Services is not directly involved in online learning, I thought this article may have been interest to some: Usability testing for E-Learning. We are, after all, a education institution.

Via Column Two.

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Just on the very rare chance that you haven't heard of these: Seven screen reader usability tips.

  • Use descriptive headings
  • Write descriptive link text
  • Provide information in lists
  • Employ logical linearisation
  • Apply short, succinct ALT text
  • Write short, front-loaded paragraphs
  • Write descriptive page title

These things are good practices to ALWAYS use, not just in regard to screenreaders. You have no more excuses.

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