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Web Accessibility Principles

Creating an elastic layout


From:

Web Accessibility Principles

with Zoe Gillenwater

Video: Creating an elastic layout

>> Another type of layout that's possible with CSS, but not tables, is commonly called an elastic layout. This refers to its ability to start at a fixed size but expand like a rubber band if needed. These layouts are flexible because they're built with relative units. Their width is relative to the width of the user's font size. This is a pretty strange concept to talk about without seeing it in action, so let's create an elastic layout from one of Dreamweaver's pre-made layouts. We'll follow the same steps that we used for creating the fixed width layout, so go to the File menu and click New.
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  1. 2m 0s
    1. Welcome
      1m 3s
    2. Using the exercise files
      57s
  2. 33m 15s
    1. What does accessibility mean?
      5m 51s
    2. How does accessibility help your users?
      3m 30s
    3. Experiencing a website via a screen reader
      5m 46s
    4. How does accessibility help you and your clients?
      3m 9s
    5. Overview of Section 508 standards
      5m 51s
    6. Overview of WCAG standards
      6m 4s
    7. Understanding consistency and semantic markup
      3m 4s
  3. 54m 31s
    1. Understanding screen readers and accessibility tools
      6m 12s
    2. Getting accessible browsers
      5m 41s
    3. Customizing Firefox for accessibility testing
      5m 53s
    4. Using custom accessibility toolbars
      5m 28s
    5. Using Fangs and the Color Contrast Analyzer
      5m 30s
    6. Accessibility tools to bookmark
      5m 53s
    7. Using automated accessibility checking tools
      4m 57s
    8. Setting up the JAWS screen reader on Windows
      6m 42s
    9. Using the VoiceOver screen reader on Mac OS X
      5m 52s
    10. Setting Dreamweaver accessibility preferences
      2m 23s
  4. 26m 12s
    1. Avoiding tables for layout
      3m 30s
    2. Using CSS for layout
      2m 40s
    3. Creating a fixed-width layout
      5m 51s
    4. Creating an elastic layout
      3m 51s
    5. Creating a liquid layout
      3m 4s
    6. Customizing a liquid layout
      7m 16s
  5. 1h 6m
    1. Specifying the language
      3m 43s
    2. Setting page titles
      2m 16s
    3. Setting headings and paragraphs
      9m 55s
    4. Styling headings
      9m 56s
    5. Hiding section headings from sighted users
      6m 41s
    6. Styling text for readability
      6m 41s
    7. Ensuring proper color contrast
      6m 36s
    8. Creating text emphasis
      4m 29s
    9. Indicating quotations
      4m 29s
    10. Creating basic lists
      4m 16s
    11. Styling lists
      7m 15s
  6. 1h 15m
    1. Using lists for navigation
      6m 45s
    2. Creating a horizontal navigation bar
      13m 25s
    3. Creating a vertical navigation bar
      11m 44s
    4. Adding skip navigation links
      12m 0s
    5. Hiding skip navigation links
      6m 17s
    6. Proper link text and title attributes
      6m 11s
    7. Opening new windows
      4m 28s
    8. Accessibility limitations of fly-out menus
      6m 30s
    9. Creating an accessible fly-out menu
      8m 38s
  7. 27m 55s
    1. Proper ALT text for navigation images
      4m 57s
    2. Proper ALT text for decorative images
      5m 19s
    3. Adding ALT text to an existing site
      6m 9s
    4. Adding ALT text to image maps
      5m 58s
    5. Describing complex graphics
      5m 32s
  8. 34m 1s
    1. Using tables for data
      3m 0s
    2. Creating header cells
      4m 5s
    3. Adding table captions and summaries
      9m 9s
    4. Styling tables
      5m 19s
    5. Applying header cells to complex tables
      6m 52s
    6. Adding id and headers attributes
      5m 36s
  9. 42m 7s
    1. Understanding form accessibility issues
      3m 7s
    2. Labeling form fields
      6m 9s
    3. Adding fieldsets and legends
      4m 42s
    4. Moving forms out of tables
      3m 44s
    5. Cleaning up a form's appearance
      4m 53s
    6. Aligning labels and fields using CSS
      9m 39s
    7. Indicating required fields
      6m 15s
    8. Dealing with CAPTCHA
      3m 38s
  10. 7m 29s
    1. The Text-Only technique
      3m 21s
    2. The Access Keys technique
      2m 35s
    3. The Tab Index technique
      1m 33s
  11. 18s
    1. Goodbye
      18s

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Web Accessibility Principles
6h 10m Appropriate for all Oct 16, 2007

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Accessibility on the web has been an issue for over a decade, and it remains a crucial--but often overlooked--element of web design. Instructor Zoe Gillenwater explains the concept of accessibility as it applies to the web, and describes how it affects the audience. She also covers how to set up accessibility testing, and how to apply accessibility principles to new and existing sites using standards-compliant markup and CSS. Exercise files accompany the tutorials.

Topics include:
  • Understanding Flex programming languages
Subjects:
Web User Experience Accessibility
Author:
Zoe Gillenwater

Creating an elastic layout

>> Another type of layout that's possible with CSS, but not tables, is commonly called an elastic layout. This refers to its ability to start at a fixed size but expand like a rubber band if needed. These layouts are flexible because they're built with relative units. Their width is relative to the width of the user's font size. This is a pretty strange concept to talk about without seeing it in action, so let's create an elastic layout from one of Dreamweaver's pre-made layouts. We'll follow the same steps that we used for creating the fixed width layout, so go to the File menu and click New.

In the new document box this time, in the layout column, we're going to choose 2 column elastic, left side bar, header and footer. You'll see a different image this time to denote that it's an elastic layout. Again, I'm going to choose HTML 4.0 Strict for the doc type and keep Add to Head for the Layout CSS selected. Click Create. So far, our page looks exactly the same. So let's preview it in a browser. Go to the globe icon on the document tool bar and select preview in Firefox.

Again, we'll be asked to save the pages to our change, so click Yes and save it to the Chapter 3 exercise files folder as elastic.html then click Save. Let's do the same thing we did with the fixed width design and try changing the width of the browser window. So grab the bottom corner and make the window narrower and wider. So far the width hasn't changed and it looks just like the fixed width layout. But now we're going to try changing the size of the text.

Again, you can do that in Firefox by holding down the Ctrl and plus key, or Cmd and plus key, on your keyboard. Resizing the text just one degree has all of the sudden made the layout much wider. If we expand the text one more time, it's even wider still. Now let's hold down Ctrl and dash, or Cmd and dash, to make the text smaller. Every time we hit this key combination, the design gets narrower. This is a characteristic of elastic designs. Because the width of the design changes as the size of the text changes, we have the same number of words on every line at every width.

This allows us to optimize the line length of the text for easier reading. So close Firefox and go back to Dreamweaver so we can see how an elastic layout is made. In the CSS panel, click the All button, and then the plus sign by the style element. Click the second rule down for the container element. This time, if we look at the properties, the width is set to 46em, and em is a relative unit of measure. One em roughly equals two characters of text. So if we change the width value to another number, but keep it in em's, let's try a value of 30 em's, the design changes its initial width.

Less characters are now on every line of text. Let's preview the page in the browser again. We'll have to save changes again to our page. The starting width of our design is much narrower than it was before, but once again changing the size of the text here using control plus or command plus to make it bigger, still makes the overall design wider and maintains the same number of words per line. So you can see how this type of design has an advantage in terms of adapting to the user's preferences.

However, one of the problems with this type of design is that you can quickly generate a horizontal scroll bar in the browser. Let's enlarge the text a couple more degrees to see this. In order to view all of the content on the page, you have to do a lot of horizontal scrolling. The third type of layout that we're going to look at has its pros and cons as well, but generally is considered one of the most accessible types of layouts. Let's create a liquid layout next.

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