Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Section 508 Checklist

I found an excellent resource for 508 compliance checking. If you need to understand how to code or recode your website to be 508 compliant, then I would certainly check this site out to learn how. Right now, I am using the checklist to compare my coding process with current sites developed to learn how I can better my code and pass compliance. I would from this point on, code any and all new sites to be compliant from get-go.

Although you or I may never need a screen reader to understand a webpage, there are many who do, and to make things pleasant for our visitors, everyone must be considered (to a reasonable degree of course... I don't plan on supporting 640x480 resolution or the like.).

It's alwasy wise to do a 508 validation checkafter you are done coding elements to see if everything has been coded/recoded properly. Looking for a simple understanding of the section 508 compliance standard?

Feel free to comment, add or suggest other useful tools, articles and tips.
[Image above searched on Google Images and source found on http://www.insecure.org/]

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Making the Switch to XHTML from HTML 4

Although XHTML has been around for a long while, many websites have not been made to be XHTML compliant and as a matter of fact, not 508 compliant... This poses issues as the major search engines like Google, Yahoo!, MSN and ASK are starting to or will be adhering tightly to standard coding which has been brought up to speed with usability, accessibility and "clean code", and at this time of writing the standard is XHTML.

While I will admit in many ways it is easy as web coding professionals with many years of experience to continue coding HTML 4, as it is easier, but there are many reasons why we should not. First, HTML is clunky and quite honestly, poorly coded and heavy. Second, if you are serious about promoting your website, services or products, then you must keep up with search engine trends and Internet standards with regard to demand.

What is XHTML?

XHTML is an acronym for Extensible Hypertext Markup language and is comprised of a mix of the best elements from HTML and XML, indeed a hybrid. XHTML was developed to create a stricter standard for web pages, to reduce incompatibilities between browsers, and to create a universal standard for document format which could be used on different platforms, devices, etc.

XHTML is Prime

The best thing about XHTML is that it is almost the same as HTML. While you cannot get away with lazy coding practices, it may actually be better for coders since the page coding is kept to a minimum and layouts are cleaner.

Changes in XHTML Vs. HTML

There are several main changes to the way an XHTML page is formed that HTML has never conformed to:

  • All tags must be lowercase

  • Example: <font> NOT <Font> OR <FONT>
  • Each page must have a defined DOCTYPE declaration

  • Documents must be properly formed

  • All tags must be well formed

  • Example: <br> must now be <br> AND <img alt="" src="a.gif" /> is now <img alt="" src="a.gif" /gt;
  • Certain attibutes have been made obsolete

  • The name attibute is different now

  • Example: <img src="a.gif" name="name" /> MUST NOW BE <img id="name" src="a.gif" />
  • Attributes cannot be shortened

  • All tags must be properly nested

About DocType

There are three types for XHTML: Strict, Transitional and Frameset.
Here are examples of those DOCTYPE declarations -


Strict is to be used if the page markup is very clean and is much more difficult to adhere to.

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3c.org/TR/XHTML1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd">


This is to be used if you still require certain use of HTML or if you prefer your code to be somewhat loose (while adhereing to XHTML standards of course).

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3c.org/TR/XHTML1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd">


If you use frames, this is the declaration for you.

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Frameset//EN" "http://www.w3c.org/TR/XHTML1/DTD/xhtml1-frameset.dtd">

Note: The declaration should be used in the very first line of your XHTML page. Since the DOCTYPE declaration is a comment tag in essence to older browsers, you do not have to worry about any such related issues.

In addition to making tags lowercase, adding alt attributes to every image (they can be empty) and not shortening attributes (ie: <input type="checkbox" name="true"> NOW IS <input type="checkbox" href="http://www.website.com" named="true">, but now it must be formed like: <a href="http://www.website.com">.

There are other things to take not of when it comes to validating for XHTML, but these elements are some of the biggest and most common to adapt. Changing these to be XHTML compliant will certainly make the process easier and swifter. Good luck and Good Coding!

BlogShares - Web Site Design Company

I found an interesting site that I've never seen prior. BlogShares is a website that lists blogs in almost the same fashion that the NYSE does with money stocks. So instead of stoking in companies, there is a perceived value and trade cost for blogs online. I think it is a fun concept and will participate... Love to check out new fun websites afterall, I am in the web biz. Our Blog is bring traded under BlogShares - Web Site Design Company and is valued as of this writing at b$1000 (b$ is blog bucks).

Anyone else have any experience with this website or a similar website?

Friday, February 17, 2006

Just When I thought it was Safe to Blog Again...

A blog, right here on blogger, labelling itself as the Nexium Blog, is filling itself with garbage posts that use a bunch of expensive vocabulary words to fill in the page. At the end of every post is a link to a Gambling site.

Clearly this is BLOG-SPAM, and I have seen it once before, almost similar in style... I think it may even be the same person because I swear I saw one of those gamling links before. While this certainly is not related to Website Design or SEO, I felt that it was importnat to mention... After all, it abuses the trust online that we should foster, not ravage.

Additionally, This is a "black hat" tactic for gambling SEO. Clearly not smart and a waste of space, time and an abuse to all who belong.

What do you think? Feedback is appreciated.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Google Acquires Measure Map

Measure Map seems to be a really useful tool for tracking visits, posts and blog use. Now that it is part of the Google universe, It is yet another reason to use Google. Funny thing is that their "invitation" form (posted on their homepage) seems to be using AJAX, the very same implementation technology for Google Suggest.

While right now this is a "cool" tool, it certainly can be as useful or more so than Google's Urchin, for Blogs, of course. While Measure Map is primarily focused on a blogger's use, I am sure SEO firms and professionals will be picking up the tool for Optimization and tracking purposes. While it lacks the complete functionality of an integrated analytics application, no doubt, with an API set, it may just do the trick...

I m waiting to be invited to check out the tool in all of it's glory. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Yahoo Testing New Homepage

Yahoo! is trying something new... Apparently it's with a new design and the functional use of AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript And XML). I remember when DHTML was considered the hot acronym, after all, it is not a new technology but a combination of scripting language, document coding and remote access to data stores.

In my opinion the combination that AJAX provides in terms of functionality and design will propel it to be of great use (and not just in personal sites). DHTML was a fad and didn't last long before being reconsidered as a has-been, but AJAX is actually useful and for the most part, conforms to standards.

It will certainly be of interest to me, and I will be posting more on AJAX and it's functional/designing uses for website design and development.

Additionally, for anyone interested in a tutorial on AJAX check out these resources:
IBM AJAX Tutorial : Part 1 / Part 2

Let me know what you think about these tutorials, perhaps even your take on the tech combo itself and implications on the web. After all, I have seen and really loved the Google suggest tool that uses a bit of AJAX guruism.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Matt Cutts on Google's International Web Search Spam Removal Initiatives

It's been a fact that Google has been improving search engine algorithms to detect "search spam" such as doorway pages, hidden text, and other cloaking techniques that belong to the fray of "Black Hat" SEO firms and professionals. Just a minor digress... Living some time as a "white-hat hacker" it was appearent that the term "Black Hat" refered to the hackers that caused malicious damage and were purely after profit as opposed to the clean motives of the "White Hat", looking to save the day by abiding by guidelines or honor...

As a white hat SEO, I understand that it can be tempting to try using cloaking techniques that at the moment work, but can easily be offset by the understanding that with risk comes consequence, and in Google's case, it is pretty severe! Right now those black hat SEO firms could be reaping the dough and traffic, then one day, ZERO. Not one visit, not one conversion. Now that is a painful online death.
(Reaper image above from a Salon.com Blog)

Search Engine 101: How to lose a Search Team

Although this story is quite hot of the press, it seems that the Lycos Search Engine has laid off it's team. Through the years as MSN, Yahoo! and Google came up from the dirt into the highest ranks of search, Lycos, Hotbot and more just seemed to wither into nothingness. I do remember a time when I refused to use google and stuck to hotbot... that is until hotbot began to issue irrelevant results and too much advertising!

I have to say, sometime around 1997 Lycos had an awesome FTP/file search tool which was quite short lived, and needless to say, I too had no reason anymore to use them. Although this report could be taken to mean that the folks working on search are considered to be in the dangerous plumes of job loss, industry-wide, I feel it is simply the mis-mangement of a Search Engine Superstar-wanabee.

Alas, Lycos has joined the living dead, and it is only a matter of time before it collapses into the clutches of a real Search Engine superstar, or worse yet, dissipates into absolute and dark nothingness.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Website Facelift

Hello everyone.

The past month has involved many new changes to the site in terms of W3 validation of XHTML and CSS. Not only has it been a pain in the rear, but a serious look at the structure and quality of the site itself. I've been in the business of designing and developing web sites for years and have concentrated my time on good old HTML, so making the transition to XHTML and CSS has been a bit difficult.

As anyone redeveloping a site knows, there is always rom for improvement and it never seems to be perfect (not even for the time-being), so we often overcompensate by making "pretty" graphics to cover up our code (::).

The good news is that after running the site through a couple of SEO and code validators, the site's main page scored high in SEO quality and validated at 100% for XHTML transitional and CSS. The next logical step is transfering the table structure to CSS and making changes to score a XHTML strict validation.

Until next time, try a couple of these great tools online:
http://www.ranks.nl - Page Density Analyser
http://www.w3.org - HTML, XHTML and CSS validators
http://www.seochat.com - SEO related tools such as "pagerank lookup", "link popularity", "future pagerank" and "google dance" tools.