[Pdx-pm] learn.perl.org rework (TPF grant)

Michael R. Wolf MichaelRWolf at att.net
Mon May 4 11:43:02 PDT 2009

On May 4, 2009, at 9:49 AM, Eric Wilhelm wrote:

> # from Shlomi Fish
> # on Monday 04 May 2009 03:51:
>> 1. When I open the page in a wide browser window (about 90% of my  
>> 1280
>> pixels screen), I get a huge empty margin between the right-hand edge
>> of the page, to the browser window.
> What if you make your browser narrower?  Maybe it should have some
> dancing bunnies in whatever space is leftover?
> I'm still thinking about the content layout, but I would rather that  
> it
> looks reasonable at 100 pixels wide than have it require 1024+ to
> render -- and still limit the text columns to a reasonable line  
> length.
> Getting CSS to do this right always boggles me.  I think the semantic
> structure is adequately tagged, so it can probably be done with CSS if
> someone wants to try that.
>>> Anyhow, please feel free to insult my color choices or design.
>> I feel the links are too easy to miss due to their colour on the  
>> white
>> background.
> You mean the followed links?  Perhaps I would have to leave the  
> "safety
> of blue" to get something with adequate contrast against both the
> background and the text.


Thanks for your efforts.  Long overdue.  *MUCH* appreciated.

I did a quick test with Firebug to disable your a:link and a:hover CSS  
rules.  It looked fine to me in the "safety of blue".

My suggestion...

Link styles (color and decoration) are a de-facto standard.  DO NOT  
CHANGE THEM.  Invest CCS creativity elsewhere.

This is not just my opinion, it's my amplified interpretation of Jacob  
Nielson, a usability expert with much more design experience than me.   
I consider his guidelines to be on par with Damian's PBP's: great  
sources of wisdom, distilled into rules, backed by well-considered  
logic and augmented with discussion that allow me to break the  
guideline in the (very rare) case that an exceptional condition (not  
just a personal preference) really does exist.

Here's a personal story related to color:

As a child, our car got hit broadside by someone who "ran a stop  
sign".  As scared as I was, and as angry as I may have been with him,  
I don't think he was at fault.  I think the "stop sign" and the  
transportation department were at fault.  They choose a different  
color (yes, blue), a different size (smaller and 2-3 feet shorter),  
and a different location (center median instead of right shoulder) for  
the "stop sign".  He got a ticket for running that stop sign, but I  
don't think it really was a stop sign.  A stop sign that doesn't look  
like a stop sign is *not* a stop sign.  I think the transportation  
department was recklessly endangering the public safety by (yes, get  
this) bowing to public pressure to maintain a "common aesthetic" for  
all signage within the planned community.  They valued artistic  
preference over well-known working functionality.  Boo!!!

Here's a link to a reputable source.  Jacob Nielson says it better  
than I do.  And he's invested millions of (other people's) dollars  
studying real world people.  He's not an academic tower theoreticist;   
he watches real people then reports on what he observes.

Guidelines for Visualizing Links (http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20040510.html 
     Textual links should be colored and underlined to achieve the  
best perceived affordance of clickability, though there are a few  
exceptions to these guidelines.

I've only heard one compelling reason to change link colors.  No, it's  
not to match a "corporate color scheme"; folks spend 99.9% of their  
time on *other* sites, so it's incumbent for usability that you  
leverage that off-your-site learning.  The only compelling reason I've  
heard is to accommodate red colorblind folks; purple and blue are too  
similar for them, and they can't distinguish visited versus non- 
visited links.  Search for US Government references to "Section 508" (www.section508.gov 
) for further information.  Here's another Jacob Nielson link

Change the Color of Visited Links (http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20040503.html 
     People get lost and move in circles when websites use the same  
link color for visited and new destinations. To reduce navigational  
confusion, select different colors for the two types of links.

It's unfortunate that "Perl blue" is so close to "link blue", but I  
don't think that's a reason to change link colors.  If you minimize  
the "Perl blue" sections, I think the intent should be clear.

Thanks again for your efforts.


Michael R. Wolf
     All mammals learn by playing!
         MichaelRWolf at att.net

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