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from swerve of shore to bend of bay

links for 2010-01-26

  • This Houston web site home page is a beautiful example of simple headings on most of the main content sections of the page. There are three visible headings in the screen shot, on the left “City Highlights” and on the right, “City Headlines” and “Register for CitizensNet“. There are thee more of these headings on the right side of the home page that are not in the screen shot. But, surprise, they are not marked up as headings. Nothing is marked up as a heading. There are no HTML headings on this page.

    To make matters worse, if that is possible, those six headings on the home page are images, which isn’t really that awful because you can have alt-text which is the same as the text in the heading. Not here. These “heading images” are background images – you cannot use alt-text on them. If, as is the case here, important content is being displayed as a background image, then other techniques must be used to convey the information, like hidden text positioned off screen.

  • Visitors who are new to your site do the same thing. They come, with many questions and few answers. In a few moments they answer the questions to their satisfaction and move on or become your customer.

    Today’s exercise is about knowing what these questions are, identifying how you would answer them, and then learning how visitors answer them. Knowing where your visitor’s answers to these web questions differ from yours will empower you to improve.

  • Citizens are served, generally, by at least three levels of government (federal, state and city), and so far the conversation about transparency and citizen engagement has revolved primarily around what happens “at the top.” It’s especially exciting, then, to see one of the results of last year’s Transparency Camps in DC and San Francisco spawn “City Camp” hosted in Chicago this past weekend.

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