Buzz Archive: January 2006

IE7 Beta 2 Preview Available to the Public

Microsoft today made Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 PREVIEW available to the public. Along with the download, they've posted a Developer and Web Developer Checklist to help you evaluate your sites, as well as the browser. Time to get to work! Happy testing... and don't forget to submit your feedback.

Web Standards in Small Organisations

I don’t really make resolutions at new year, but perhaps if I did it should be this. To be more actively involved in the organisations I care about in making sure that they get solid advice about the web.

Most of us likely have some kind of contact with a small organisation or voluntary group that could need advice about their web presence. It might be a school or religious group, a sports team or club, a small charity or business networking group. Unless someone clues them in and points them in the right direction, they might end up spending desperately needed funds in a misguided way.

I recently came across a site called school-portal.co.uk run by UK company UniServity, who specialise in solutions for the education and voluntary sectors. Of the vast number of schools on that list, I couldn’t find a single one that used valid HTML, nor one that looked like it would pass even the most cursory of accessibility tests. Broken, basically. Having some idea of the financial pressures on UK schools (who will have funded these sites out of their own budgets) I think you’d be hard-pushed to find one school in the list who could afford to have the job re-done properly.

With being a fairly young industry, it may not always be apparent that it’s OK to ask advice from those in the know before proceeding. If an organisation knows an accountant, they’ll usually seek the advice of that person in selecting a firm to balance their books. But do they realise there can be serious consequences for failing to carry out the same due diligence when it comes to their web presence?

So perhaps this year is a good year to step in and offer some advice and guidance to make sure the organisation you care about ends up with nothing less than a standards-based, properly accessible web site. Remember, offering advice doesn’t have to mean volunteering to do the work, and the former is often a more valuable contribution.

Another Failed Redesign: IEEE

Oh the irony -- that a standards body should ignore standards in creating their new Web site!

As a member of the IEEE, I couldn't help but laugh when I saw that the new IEEE Web site redesign was announced in an e-mail newsletter... along with another entry titled "Let's Not Overlook Standards". Since their previous site didn't make use of Web standards, I had hopes that this one would... but on viewing source of the new site, those hopes were quickly dashed.

What does this say to users and to Web professionals when a technical standards body completely ignores Web standards? The term "unprofessional" doesn't even seem to go far enough.

As a Web professional and as a member of the IEEE, I'm ashamed and I'm insulted. You should be too. Contact the IEEE and let them know how you feel.

Failed Redesigns

Joe Clark recently wrote about several Failed Redesigns. His post has such a classic WaSP tone, that I hope he doesn't mind that I quote a couple of paragraphs here.

A failed redesign is a Web page created from scratch, or substantially updated, during the era of Web standards that nonetheless ignores or misuses those standards. A failed redesign pretends that valid code and accessibility guidelines do not exist; it pretends that the 21st century is frozen in the amber of the year 1999. It indicates not merely unprofessional Web-development practices but outright incompetence. For if you are producing tag-soup code and using tables for layout in the 21st century, that's what you are: Incompetent.

When teenagers' hobbyist blogs (short for "Web logs") have better code than brand-new Web sites, somebody's doing something wrong. And that somebody is you, the developer. In a just society you would simply be fired; in an Orwellian society you would be sent to a reŽducation camp. Failing either of those, you could at least read a fucking book and upgrade your skills to a point where you are no longer a total laughingstock.

Classic. Read on for Joe's list of failed redesigns. What in particular set me off was some of the recent crop of self-hyped "" startups. Joe zings TagWorld in particular. My advice: next time you get pitched or hyped to check out a self-proclaimed "Web 2.0" site, pop the hood, view the source, and see if all they've done is put some lipstick on a Web 1.0 pig of a site. And then call them on it ... on your blog of course.