Name: Mike Mac Marcel
Member since: 2005-10-04 17:01:30
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There are a few browsers (Firefox, Opera) that treat image alt text as if it were normal text on the page, when the image isn't present. If the reader turns images off to save bandwidth, we can still visually treat the images by styling the alt text, and this could be especially handy in regards to site logos.

For example, while working on Hollyo, I marked up the site's logo with an <h1> element:

<h1><img src="img/logo.gif" alt="HOLLYO" /></h1>

I don't pledge allegiance to any specific markup convention for site logos, but with images turned off, you can see that Firefox treats the alt text ``HOLLYO'' as a level 1 heading (Figure 1).

Figure 1 This is a nice way of keeping the visual hierarchy of things consistent, even in the absence of images. And yes, this does rely on the browser's own built-in stylesheet, which customarily displays headings large and bold.

If you don't agree with wrapping a site's logo in a heading element (and I often go back and forth), then there's another approach. Just add a few font styles for whatever element your logo happens to be sitting in (provided there is no other text in there as well).

For example, if it's sitting in a

, as it is here on SimpleBits:

<img src="img/logo.gif" alt="SimpleBits" />

Then adding a few CSS rules to that specific element would do the trick (Figure 2):

#logo { font-size: 130%; font-weight: bold; }

Figure 2 When the image is there, no harm done. When the image isn't there, then the alt text will be larger and bold, thus keeping a visual heirarchy consistent. At present, this will work in Firefox and Opera (AFAIK). But it's really just a tiny little enhancement.

I have repeatedly finding myself turning to the otherwise unused Windows box on my desktop for filling in online forms. The primary reason has been the Tab behaviour in Web forms: on Windows, you can tab between text fields, menus, radio buttons, et al; on Safari/Firefox on Mac, you skip the menus entirely and have to reach for the mouse and click. And this contextual switch is costly. Now apparently this is "fixed" by enabling System Preferences > Keyboard & Mouse > Full keyboard access: "In windows and dialogs, press Tab to move the keyboard focus between: "Text boxes and lists only." Mea culpa.

I thought I'd clicked that long ago to no effect and a double-check finds that I was right. Despite the label "...and lists," it's only when you select "All controls" that tabbing to menus actually works in web forms.


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