Due Chiacchiere

Posted August 16th, 2007 by Mel Pedley

Due Chiacchiere site The Due Chiacchier site has improved significantly since it failed to make our submission queue some time back. The comments we had then have been taken onboard and the site’s overall accessibility has really been enhanced as a result. The more sharp-eyed amongst you may notice that the site has the occasional validation error due to the presence of embed. However, given Internet Explorer’s reported unreliability with object and taking into account feedback from disabled user testing groups, we decided that embed is still the most reliable and accessible approach in this situation and accepted the validation error as a reasonable trade-off.

The site’s layout still follows the original design we saw some time ago but, since then, attention has obviously been paid to some of its previous weaknesses. The result is a site that functions well with, or without, images. Navigating the site by keyboard is generally a very pleasant experience due to the clear onfocus highlighting — although we did feel that the very large “back to top” links provided to keyboard navigators as they moved through the pages were obtrusive and confusing. We’d prefer to see permanently visible “back to top” links which would also act as a fall-back for mouse users if the link via the partially-dependent JavaScript toolbar was not available.

The site showed very solid cross-browser performance but there were a couple of disappointments in key areas. One immediately obvious problem was the multiple occupancies of “Leggi il resto” links — each one leading to a different post. This, coupled with markup that was heavy on divs and classes suggested that perhaps the author could delve a little more deeply into WordPress theme creation with a view to slimming the markup down and resolving repetitive “read more” links.

We also felt that the contact form was not very user friendly — especially as it did not return any sort of error message on a blank submission unless the user jumped through a few hoops. It also relied completely on JavaScript for its focus when form control focus is available within Firefox via the Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) and only Internet Explorer (IE) needs the additional JavaScript. Providing the script via a conditional comment would have fixed this and the action for everyone else would be probably have been smoother too. Also, any text within a form that is not enclosed in a label or legend will not be read by Jaws in “Forms Mode.” In this particular case, the relevant text didn’t seem essential, so we didn’t consider this to be a major issue, but it’s worth bearing in mind for the future.

Access keys? Generally, we’re not too keen on setting default access keys on any site but, on this site, we feel that they’ve been seriously over-used and that some of the pre-defined keys may cause significant problems for Jaws users — such as “s”, “m”, and “-”. It would be far better, in our opinion to allow users to define their own access keys.

Design-wise, we liked the post headings and post footers but we weren’t too keen on the background colour. Generally, we felt that this site should have some rich, bold colours because it is otherwise lacking in visual eye-candy which tends to make the site feel rather bland. The typography was a little weak in places and some of the colour contrasts need attention. We also felt that the toolbar widget should start fixed with an option for the user to release it as some users really don’t like these kinds of moving widgets. However, as far toolbar widgets go, this one was nicely done.

Nevertheless, the Due Chiacchier site, designed by Dino Termini, demonstrates great attention to detail in some areas coupled with really decent progressive enhancements for users and was deemed eligible for an Award Level of: “Quality Universal Design.” Congratulations, Dino!

7 Responses to: “Due Chiacchiere”

  1. Mike Cherim responds:
    Posted: August 16th, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    Molto bene, Dino.

  2. Koen Willems responds:
    Posted: August 16th, 2007 at 5:20 pm

    Indeed, it’s a very good accessible website!

    Very informative comment too.
    @ Mel: Thanks for the information about Jaws.

  3. Marco responds:
    Posted: August 17th, 2007 at 10:50 am

    Way to go Dino :)

  4. David Zemens responds:
    Posted: August 18th, 2007 at 9:21 am

    Nice work, Dino. I am not normally a fan of javascript navigation, but I like the sliding sidebar navigation on your site. Pretty neat.

  5. camu responds:
    Posted: August 27th, 2007 at 5:06 am

    Hi all, I’m back from my holidays and found this great news in my email! Thank you very much for this award, it is a wonderful birthday gift :-P I carefully read all the suggestions to improve my blog, I plan to start working on them next week. Even if I’m not sure on how solving the “read more” issue: I already added in the title description a different phrase for each link, and even if the “visible” string is “Leggi il resto”, Jaws should read the complete one which is (translated) “Read more about [article title]”, isn’t this enough?

    Have a nice day,
    camu aka dino

  6. Mike Cherim responds:
    Posted: August 27th, 2007 at 7:35 am

    “Read more about [article title]” is perfect.

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