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Top 10 Goals

Additional requirements of the redesign are less brand specific. They might be as relevant to your site as to ours. Listed next are our top 10 goals for this project:

  1. The site must be as usable in nongraphical environments as it is in the best and latest browsers by Netscape, Microsoft, Opera, and others. Its content and basic functions must be available to any browser or device; its layout should work in any reasonably CSS-savvy browser.

  2. Markup must validate against the XHTML 1.0 Transitional spec and must avoid presentational elements. We are separating structure from presentation, which means no nonsemantic spans and divs when p or h1 would serve. It means no spacer GIF images, no tables except those used to present tabular data, no outdated or invalid attributes like bgcolor or marginheight, no misuse of <blockquote> to achieve formatting, and no cheating with <br /> tags when a structural element can create the desired visual effect while also conveying meaning. (If these goals confuse you, reread Chapter 7, “Tighter, Firmer Pages Guaranteed: Structure and Meta-Structure in Strict and Hybrid Markup.”)

  3. CSS must validate and should be as compact and as logically arranged as possible (see Chapters 9, “CSS Basics,” and 10, “CSS in Action: A Hybrid Layout [Part II]”).

  4. To help meet our goal of delivering content and basic functions in almost any conceivable browsing environment, the site should strive to be seamlessly accessible. Too often, the desire to attain accessibility falls by the wayside except as a string of empty words. To avoid such a fate, we will test our work against an accepted accessibility standard. We've chosen U.S. Section 508 (Chapter 14, “Accessibility Basics”), but any standard would do. The point is to choose a set of guidelines and then adhere to them. (Imagine that.)

  5. The site must deliver a recognizably branded look and feel without squandering visitor or server bandwidth on bloated markup, excessively complex scripts, or needless images. The site must not waste resources, but it must possess style. It need not blow the visitor away (excessive fripperies lie far outside the brand character), but it should feel like a place. It should also feel like the recognizable evolution of a familiar place rather than a radical departure from previous incarnations.

  6. The site should offer visual interactivity (some of it playful) so that it feels like a living thing.

  7. Wherever possible, equivalents to dynamic elements should be provided for the benefit of those who are using text browsers or other nontraditional devices. (This is just another way of saying that you shouldn't use interactivity as an excuse for poor accessibility.)

  8. The site should provide user customization options without losing its brand character in the process.

  9. Text should be easy and pleasurable to read and should be made the focus of the site, which is a reading, rather than a shopping/clicking/button-pushing site. Thoughtful handling of text is important to any site, but it is absolutely essential to one that is read like a daily newspaper.

  10. Navigation should be clear, intuitive, and obvious. It can and probably should have some visual panache, but it must also work in nonvisual environments. Visitors who access the web in linear fashion (for instance, via screen readers) should be able to skip right past it. If the navigation can be achieved using structural elements, such as the components of an unordered list, so much the better.



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