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RE: Tool Tip behavior

From: Bruce Bailey <bbailey@clark.net>
Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2000 10:46:08 -0500
To: "Gregory J. Rosmaita" <unagi69@concentric.net>
Cc: "WAI Interest Group Emailing List" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <000b01bf7e15$1a24de20$1aac66a7@151877>
Dear Gregory (et al.),

I am pleased to have my pages critiqued on this list.  It would be pretty
hypocritical of me to take insult!  This is just a rather long and somewhat
rambling defense slash explanation of choices made for the graphics.  I
welcome further comments.

I am greatly relieved that your graphic artist friend was not harder on my
page.  I am definitely NOT an artist, but did create the buttons in question
by hand.  Actually, I am more concerned with the quality of our main
"DORS/MSDE Seal", but that one was given to me!

The sites I link to did not give me the graphics, so I attempted to create
something using their established logos and color schemes.  I further
limited myself to the 216 "browser safe" color palette.  The standard button
size (88x31 pixel) does not give one much room to work, but I did my best.

The "Online Public Information Network" button has black text on a deep
blue/green, with something that could be imagined to be a sail boat up
against the A in SAILOR.  There is a much lighter 1-pixel outline around the
letters, so I think it is acceptable.  The color "teal" is not well
represented by Netscape's 216 6x6x6 model -- I only had two shades that I
thought were close.

MEC has a goldenrod (on white) cursive "Maryland" over (and in places, on
top of) "Electronic Capital".  MEC does not otherwise have a logo.  All
lettering is one-pixel wide, so it is admittedly a tough read.

There is no way text like "Maryland Technology Assistance Program" would fit
spelled out on a graphic of this size.  In truth, I don't think those four
words are very illuminating.  One still has to visit their site to figure
out what they are about.

Philosophically, I think the ALT content should parallel the IMG content.
If the graphic is a little cryptic, so should be the ALT text!  I am
grateful that TITLE gives me an appropriate place to add a little more
content.  Is it my fault that the current crop of browsers don't implement
this well?  Visually, the IMGs line up nicely and look like buttons.  I
wanted to try and convey this with the ALT content, hence my use of "Jump
to".  I will sometimes use ALT like "DORS Logo", but that is NOT what is
pictured in this case!

I think it is bad advice that TITLE content should be the same as ALT
content.  In that case, why not just argue to drop TITLE?

One could make the case that if I bother to link off site, I should endeavor
to provide some illumination about those links.  In truth, I snuck those
links onto our homepage out of respect to those programs, mostly as
courtesy.  The linked sites are programs that are only tangentially related
to our own.  They are barely mentioned elsewhere on our site (if at all) and
there is no discussion of them on the home page.  The linked sites are all
larger than us and Maryland-oriented -- probably visitors to our site know
of them already.  We do not have the "obligatory list of suggested links"
page, but I wanted to pay some homage to those programs.  The buttons on
bottom of the home page seems like the most attractive and least intrusive
(to our content) way to do this.  The bosses liked how the buttons dressed
up our page.  In short, if the MD TAP button graphic isn't sufficient, is a
better choice not to have the link at all?  We are not about to give them
MORE real-estate on OUR page!

Bruce Bailey

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Gregory J. Rosmaita [mailto:unagi69@concentric.net]
> Sent: Tuesday, February 22, 2000 7:03 PM
> To: Bruce Bailey
> Cc: WAI Interest Group Emailing List
> Subject: RE: Tool Tip behavior
> aloha, bruce!
> the problem -- from my point of view -- with ALT text such as
> quote Jump to
> MD TAP unquote is that it doesn't communicate anything to anyone who is
> unaware of what MD TAP means...  that the hyperlink contains a TITLE is
> quite commendable, but since access to the information contained
> in a TITLE
> defined for a hyperlink is currently available to a user only under
> specific circumstances -- such as the ability to use a pointing
> device, use
> of screen-reader X with browser Y, use of a targeted user agent, etc. --
> might it not make sense to use the same text for both the TITLE
> associated
> with the hyperlink _and_ the ALT text associated with the graphic?  there
> is, also, the issue of ensuring backwards compatibility, as well...
> you wrote, quote
>> I have also gotten the advice (also from someone on this list, my
>> apologies
>> for forgetting who) that ALT associated with a link should use a verb.
> quote
> whether or not you feel the need to use a verb in your ALT text is up to
> you...  what you should keep in mind is that -- in the case of a
> graphical
> hyperlink -- what is most important is providing the user with sufficient
> information so that he or she can make an informed decision as to whether
> or not to follow the link...
> the only hard-and-fast rule when it comes to ALT text is one that
> i used to
> state as quote use common sense unquote, but which i have amended
> to quote
> use uncommon sense unquote
> you also wrote, quote
>> The IMG in question is a take on their logo that incorporates the letters
>> "M D" and "T A P".  The graphic gives no clue as to what "MD TAP"
>> might be,
>> so "Jump to MD TAP" seems like very appropriate ALT tag content to
>> me.  Should ALT contain _more_ information than is contained by the
> unquote
> then perhaps the MD TAP logo isn't sufficient -- i emailed a sighted
> colleague who just happens to be a graphic artist who works as a
> commercial
> designer for a major american corporation, and asked her to take
> a look at
> the page...  while her comments on the page were overall positive
> (which is
> an achievement in and of itself, as she is a very harsh critic when it
> comes to web design) she told me that -- with the exception of the
> "Electronic Library" button -- the meaning of the buttons that appear at
> the bottom of the page are not readily apparent from their graphical
> content...  she emphasized that the buttons ALT texted Jump to MSDE and
> Jump to MD TAP, in particular,  were quite cryptic, and her first impulse
> was to point at them and hope for informative ALT text would pop
> up in the
> form of a ToolTip!  the letters MD TAP on the last button, she observed,
> are so small and indistinct that it was difficult for her to discern them
> -- a point that she underscored by admitting that she probably wouldn't
> have noticed that they were there if i hadn't told her (based on the
> information you provided me in your emessage) that they are there...  she
> also added that the color contrast on the Sailor button isn't very good,
> and that the word "Maryland" in the "Electronic Capital" button didn't
> separate well from the background...  all of which leads me to conclude
> that, perhaps, part of ensuring interoperability may be considering the
> following question -- is the meaning of this graphic readily apparent to
> anyone sees it?
> bruce, by airing my comments on-list, i do not mean to denigrate your
> efforts -- on the contrary, the DORS page is quite an impressive piece of
> handiwork, for which you should be commended...  i only wish to
> provide you
> with constructive criticism, or -- at least -- a different "point
> of view",
> gregory.
> ---------------------------------------------------------------
> Existentialism means that no one else can take a bath for you.
>                                            -- Delmore Schwartz
> ---------------------------------------------------------------
> Gregory J. Rosmaita <unagi69@concentric.net>
>     Camera Obscura: http://www.hicom.net/~oedipus/
>        VICUG NYC: http://www.hicom.net/~oedipus/vicug/
>           Read 'Em & Speak: http://www.hicom.net/~oedipus/books/
> ---------------------------------------------------------------
Received on Wednesday, 23 February 2000 10:48:44 UTC

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