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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.

User Centered Email

April 19, 2006

I appreciate the efforts of one of our local recruitment agencies sending me email notifications of contract opportunities.

I hate the fact that the person sending them is clueless and essentially puts no thought into what he sends on to me (I won’t even get into the fact that he still sends emails out to people on his “list” by sending a message to himself and then bcc-ing everyone)

Continue reading User Centered Email

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Browser Elitism Part 2

April 19, 2005

I’m not sure how this post is going to come across, but I have to write it anyway. Feel free to comment or not comment at all. I’m not attacking anyone in particular, but in my mind there is some “unfinished business” to take care of as a follow up to my “Browser Elitism” post.

Some people said that I shouldn’t call it elitism, and that’s fair enough. After reading through the comments, I felt that something was missing that I couldn’t address properly in the comments. This is an attempt to consolidate my thoughts, respond to some points that people raised, and record it all so that I can move on (yes, there are things that are bugging me. No, I won’t lose sleep at night, but I do need to write it down).

Continue reading Browser Elitism Part 2

Browser Elitism

April 3, 2005

The other day I was was encouraging a client to demonstrate their software’s front end web interface in Firefox rather than in Internet Explorer. (After all, I am all for getting clients on board using Firefox for their product demonstrations in sales calls or in meetings and for every day use.)

We were looking at a form that had a group of radio buttons for a choice, with a short paragraph nested below the label to further explain that particular choice. I implemented a :hover CSS effect on the div that I had used to encapsulate the radio button, the label, and the explanatory paragraph, which would only work properly in a “good” browser.

Continue reading Browser Elitism

The Human Factor

November 15, 2004

I’m currently reading a book by Kim Vicente called “The Human Factor” that a colleague of mine (an ergonomist) recommended to me.

I’ll post a more thorough review of it later, but I wanted to share some nuggets I found In the first chapter. This passage really resonated with the world of the web and what we, as web professionals, do:
Continue reading The Human Factor

The Case of the Missing Defensive Design

July 9, 2004

Defensive Design encompasses a lot of key principles — one of which is rescuing users when errors occur. The guys at 37signals write:

Guideline 16:
Offer customized “Page not found” error pages

Great advice — Hopefully in the next edition, we can see it expand to include other error pages as well. Here’s why I hope so…

Continue reading The Case of the Missing Defensive Design

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Questions About Links

July 3, 2004

There has been a lot of writing these days on links, their styles and all the pseudo classes that go with them. To follow up on that with some consolidation, Simon Collison hit a few of us up the other day with some questions on linking and link styles. Via email Simon interviewed myself, Andy Clarke, Jason Santa Maria, Mike Davidson, D. Keith Robinson, Cameron Moll, and Simon Willison — “in an attempt to consolidate these views, and reflect the broad range of methods in use today.”

Thanks to Simon for putting this together and for synthesizing it all into one piece: Question Time: Visited Links. As a developer, I always find it interesting to see what others in my profession think – certainly it helps us to clarify our own understanding and to hear points of view we may not have otherwise heard.

Hidden Information

June 23, 2004

Many of the techniques we employ as developers to make our web sites more accessible result in hidden information that may only make them more accessible to a small portion of users rather than more accessible to everyone. Published over at, Contradictions in Accessibility: Hidden Information examines how some accessibility features built in to HTML could be paired with low tech approaches to enhance accessibility.

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