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from swerve of shore to bend of bay

links for 2009-09-20

  • It can be time consuming to make web forms both pretty and accessible. In particular, laying out forms where the form label and input are horizontally adjacent, as in the image below, can be a real problem. We used to use tables, which worked well in this scenario—but forms don’t constitute tabular data, so it’s a semantic faux pas.

    I’ve tried to create a form-styling solution that is both accessible and portable (in the sense that I can move the code from one project to the next). Floats have often provided a solution to my problem, but given the complexity of some layouts and the numerous float bugs associated with Internet Explorer, it’s not always easy to reuse a float solution. I wanted to create something that anyone could easily reuse on any project: a style sheet that, when applied to a correctly marked up HTML form, would produce the basis of the required layout.

  • Do you suspect a programmer may have put together the terrible user interface on that “enterprise” software you’re forced to use every day? There are some give-away indicators. Look out for them in your software, hunt down the developer and force them to read a book about user interface design. If you’re suitably senior, force them to a) improve it, or even better b) get someone with real UI experience to fix it.
  • The use of social media for federal services and interactions is growing tremendously, supported by initiatives from the administration, directives from government leaders, and demands from the public. This situation presents both opportunity and risk. Guidelines and recommendations for using social media technologies in a manner that minimizes the risk are analyzed and presented in this document.

    This document is intended as guidance for any federal agency that uses social media services to collaborate and communicate among employees, partners, other federal agencies, and the public.

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