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Doing it with (user) style

October 21, 2007

I’ve long since been fascinated with changing the style of a site to fit with my needs. Early experimentation with the Web Developer Toolbar lead to me writing Print it your way for A List Apart back in May of 2004.

The capacity to restyle and customize sites to match our personal use is a fundamental part of what we do on the web. My friend and colleague John Allsopp wrote about it back in April of 2000 when he wrote the visionary A Dao of Web Design, also on A List Apart. We have the ability to adapt pages and restyle all or parts of them for our own use, beyond what the author may have intended. This is the web.

WCAG 1.0 Resources

I need the WCAG checklist and guidelines as a reference when I’m testing or writing a report. When pointing out areas of concern to a client, I generally reference the specific checkpoints in question so that their developers and designers can go back to the guidelines to see what needs attention. My work isn’t driven by the checklist, but the checklist is definitely a tool that I still use.

The problem? The way the guidelines and checkpoints are laid out, doesn’t really match the way that I work. I need a quick reference – mostly because I don’t have the exact numbers of all the checkpoints memorized.

With that in mind, I created some user styles for both the WCAG Guidelines and the WCAG Checklist to make them easier to read at-a-glance, I made the numbers for the checkpoints bigger, added in some line-height and removed anything else I thought got “in the way” of me being able to reference them quickly and efficiently.


WCAG 1.0 Guidelines: Before with default styling

WCAG 1.0 Guidelines: After with user styles

I’ve posted them at which makes use of the Stylish extenstion for FireFox—allowing you to manage your user styles on a per site basis.

It would be silly to suggest that these will meet your precise needs, but adding these styles certainly made the checkpoints and guidelines easier for me to read and use.

Feel free to give them a try and let me know how they work out for you. I’m also interested in knowing how other people use the guidelines and checklists. Are there other styles that would be useful for other use case scenarios for the guidelines and checklists?


Just to be clear – once you install the user styles, you need to go to the web pages in question to see them in action. Namely the WCAG Guidelines and the WCAG Checklist. If you don’t go to those sites, you won’t see any effect at all.

Firefox Power Moves

November 25, 2006
Firefox Logo

Time to document a few things that I find really useful in FireFox – still my browser of choice, even now that I’m on a Mac and not Windows (actually, I do still use Windows for certain things, and I do a lot of testing via Parallels so I’m not completely on a Mac).

Note that I describe these with Cmd, but you can use Ctrl for Windows machines. I assume these features also work on Linux based version of Firefox, but I’ll leave it to someone else to confirm.

Continue reading Firefox Power Moves

Digital Web Interview

February 28, 2006

I’m honoured to have been interviewed for Digital Web Magazine – it was truly a pleasure. If you haven’t already seen it, check it out: Interview with Derek Featherstone (February 27, 2006)

Thanks to the Digital Web staff who made all of it happen, and special thanks to Krista Stevens, Digital Web’s Editor in Chief for wanting to run the interview in the first place.

Finally – I can’t say enough about Carolyn Wood for her efforts throughout the course of the interview. She is an absolute treat to work with – a breath of fresh air, great with content strategy and an amazing editor. Thank you so much, Carolyn!!

CSS Background Images: Naughty or Nice?

December 19, 2005

Just in time for the holiday season – I’m honoured to be able to contribute to Drew McLellan’s with my article: CSS Background Images: Naughty or Nice?

Thanks to Drew and all the other authors for putting together a great resource so far!

Survey: Accessibility Challenges

September 18, 2005

Sometimes, accessibility can make you go around in circles, feeling like you’re stuck in a maze and can’t get out. Some accessibility puzzles are truly hard to solve.

I’m wondering – what are some of the most difficult challenges you’ve had with making things accessible? I’m not talking about things like “getting management to buy in,” or “it costs too much.” I’m talking about things that you or one of your colleagues built: a particular site map or navigation bar, a form or part of a form of an online process, or even multimedia components. I don’t need all the details, but an overview of the problem and context would be great, as I’m trying to get an idea of what others are struggling with right now.

Dockable Comments: Intelligent DOM Scripting

May 23, 2005

About a month ago I wrote Browser Elitism and Browser Elitism Part 2. These posts saw fairly high traffic and got quite a few comments. So much so in fact that I didn’t find it very easy to comment properly and address the points that people were making in their comments. A few days after I set out to “solve” that problem, only to find out weeks later that Jonathan Snook had done something similar in his post Experiment with position: fixed.

Cool that we came up with similar ideas at almost the same time. Spooky that we only live about 10 minutes from each other. I love that the fixed comment form was integrated into Jonathan’s 78th redesign. I, on the other hand, am not quite ready for a full redesign, but wanted to implement the functionality right away. So, here it is – dockable comments.

Continue reading Dockable Comments: Intelligent DOM Scripting

S5 and Incremental Rendering of Graphics

November 18, 2004

S5 is moving quickly – within the last few days, it has seen three revisions — the most important of which is seen in the 1.1a3 version with incremental display. If you aren’t aware, S5 provides a framework for creating well-structured and accessible presentation materials. We’ve been using Opera Show for our accessibility presentations at for the past year or so, but I was immediately attracted to S5 because of its cross-browser compatibility.

I decided to try S5 for a presentation I was giving last night, and I wanted a particular graphic to render incrementally. Here’s how I did it using the incremental display from the first alpha release to incorporate incremental rendering: S51.1a3.
Continue reading S5 and Incremental Rendering of Graphics