Category Archives: Usability

Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) Passes Acid2 Test ?

It seems that the Internet Explorer team from Microsoft is working hard to improve the quality of the much criticized non standard compliance IE generation (5 – 6 -7).

With respect to standards and interoperability, our goal in developing Internet Explorer 8 is to support the right set of standards with excellent implementations and do so without breaking the existing web. This second goal refers to the lessons we learned during IE 7. IE7’s CSS improvements made IE more compliant with some standards and less compatible with some sites on the web as they were coded. Many sites and developers have done special work to work well with IE6, mostly as a result of the evolution of the web and standards since 2001 and the level of support in the various versions of IE that pre-date many standards. We have a responsibility to respect the work that sites have already done to work with IE. We must deliver improved standards support and backwards compatibility so that IE8 (1) continues to work with the billions of pages on the web today that already work in IE6 and IE7 and (2) makes the development of the next billion pages, in an interoperable way, much easier.

But IE is from far not the only browser that does not pass the ACID Test 2:

Firefox 3 beta 2
Firefox 3 beta 2 Acid Test
Internet Explorer 6
Internet Explorer 6 Acid Test
Internet Explorer 7
Internet Explorer 7 Acid Test
Opera 9
Opera 9 Acid Test
Reference result
Acid Test Reference

According to Dean Hachamovitch the result for IE8 would be smiling:
Internet Explorer 8 Acid Test

The Acid2 test has been ignored by Microsoft IE for so long that it was quite a surprise to see them make an effort in that direction, certainly the rise of Firefox (who does not passes the Acid2 Test but is more standard compliant) is not for nothing in that move.

An Acid2 test is simply a complex web page using basic feature of HTML4, CSS1, PNG, and Data URLs.

* Transparent PNGs — The eyes are encoded as transparent PNGs.
* The object element — The eyes of the face are attached to an object element. Being able to use object (which can have alternative content) is one of the oldest requests from web designers.
* Absolute, relative and fixed positioning — Being able to position elements accurately is important for advanced page layouts.
* Box model — The original Acid test focused on the CSS box model. Acid2 continues in this fine tradition by testing ‘height’, ‘width’, ‘max-width’, ‘min-width’, ‘max-height’ and ‘min-height’.
* CSS tables — There is nothing wrong with table layouts. It is a powerful layout model which makes sense on bigger screens. However, the table markup is troublesome as it ties the content to these screens. Therefore, being able to specify table layouts in CSS is important.
* Margins — CSS defines accurate algorithms for how margins around elements should be calculated.
* Generated content — The ability to add decorations and annotations to Web pages without modifying the markup has long been requested by authors.
* CSS parsing — Acid2 includes a number of illegal CSS statements that should be ignored by a compliant browser.
* Paint order — We test that overlapping content is painted in the right order. This is not a feature in itself, but a requirement for other features to work correctly.
* Line heights — The Acid2 test checks a few key parts of the CSS inline box model, upon which any standards-compliant Web page depends.
* Hovering effects — One of the elements in the face changes color when you “hover” over it. Which one?

More information about IE8
More information about Acid2

That is one more good move from IE after deciding to remove the “Click to activate” by April 2008.


Flash – ActionScript is part from the Top 10 Marketable Web Development Skills

Read/WriteWeb has published a list of the Top 10 marketable web development skills. I’m happy to see that Flash and ActionScript are part of the list!

Even if I don’t fully agree with this list I do think that it is interesting to make such a list, so here the list of skills I found important for a web developer.

  • XHTML Valid Skills

    That can sound obvious but the number of so called web developer that does not develop according to standard is huge. Being someone writting valid XHTML code is a very important value IMHO.

  • OOP & UML

    I’m not so much interested by the programing languages a web developer know, but I am interested by the knowledge of Object Oriented Programing and communication of the architecture of a web service. That is why I added UML to OOP, one without the other may be useless in a team.

  • Flash & ActionScript

    Obviously for me it is a must have skill, the Flash Player has a so deep penetration in the market that to not have knowledge of Flash UI or ActionScript is really a bad point.

  • JavaScript & AJAX

    In my point of view we must not accept the culture of totally AJAX or totally Flash. Most of the time a nice combination of both gives the best result. Obviously knowing JavaScript and AJAX is a must!

  • Design skills

    The world of web developer can be split in two: Developers VS Designer. I think to be an “Interactive Designer” (a coder that understand design or a designer to understand code) is the best skill you can market, it also opens a lot more of position!

  • User Experience

    It is not enough to be a talented you need to understand how will your web pages be used. So for me capabilities like Usability, Accessibility and Navigation Design worth gold.

  • Database Understanding

    When developing web program we need mostly to rely on database, understanding the structure and architecture of Database helps to think about deep new way of presenting information and to architecture well all your web pages/services/programs.

By the way, if you have all those listed skills, don’t hesitate to contact me (ahmet AT MBA-Exchange DOT com), we are opening a new position at my work ( & & &
We are located at Geneva / Switzerland and speak mostly French and English.


Web Credibility: how to have a persuasive website?

I had came across the notion of Credibility some times ago but at that time I didn’t take the time to read more about it. The notion is quite old (buzz started 2002) Now that I’m going a bit deeper in the art of web design if found Credibility very interesting.
Credibility / Persuasion is going further than usability, here we are not talking about “ease of use” but we are talking about “pushing to action”:

Captology is the study of computers as persuasive technologies. This includes the design, research, and analysis of interactive computing products created for the purpose of changing people’s attitudes or behaviors.

As the graphic shows, captology describes the area where computing technology and persuasion overlap.

What makes a website credible? from BJ FOGG“:

A small collection of links that I’ve found on that topic:

Interesting to export that topic on Adobe AIR, how to get persuasive on a desktop environment?


Making Life Easier: World Usability Day: November 8

World Usability Day was founded to ensure that the services and products
important to life are easier to access and simpler to use.

Even if this year the theme is health, it is a good time to check our website for usability issues, more and more visitors expect to have an usable website (also in terms of accessibility). One year ago I had set up a usability resources list so if you need to refresh your knowledge about usability you know where to go ;)

Also don’t forget why you want your website to be accessible:

  • There are 8.6 million registered disabled people in the UK
  • One in 12 men and one in 200 women have some form of color blindness
  • Two million UK residents have a sight problem
  • There are 12 million people aged 60 or over


Building a Better Search Engine

Via Technology review,

[…]After 30 years, it’s finally reached a point where it can be brought into the world[…]

A search engine that would finds the best answer by considering the meaning and context of the question and related Web pages, I’m dreaming about it, they said they nearly achieve it!
We will have to wait until September to test it, but after 30 years I really hope they made something great. Now I just have to work on my English or the search engines will not understand my queries anyway… they did not write about multiple languages support.

[…]Powerset extracts deep concepts and relationships from the texts, and the users query and match them efficiently to deliver a better search[…]

I’m looking forward to say goodbye to our keywords oriented search engines (G.Y.L) :)

Related Links:
Full article from Technologies review
Powerset Labs
IBM research center