CMXtraneous: CSS

Right on the edge of useful

SEO vs. Accessibility: Can you have both?

Posted Friday, January 21, 2005 8:59:41 AM by Stephanie


I try to design the code of my pages to be very clean, with little extraneous "stuff." My goal is always to make them as accessible as possible as well as search engine friendly. And I've got it all figured out. Using text instead of images for headings and navigation allows me to be kind to both spiders and people that browse with alternative methods like screen readers. This is one of the main reasons I love sIFR. I can use creative fonts for my headings but still retain the text display in a browser. Yup, I have it all figured out.

When I put images into my pages, I use a descriptive alt attribute if it contains information that a low or non-vision person needs to have. If it's purely decorative, I use the empty alt attribute so that the screen readers will ignore it and not read the name of the file. Yup, all done... good for accessibility... did I mention I have it all figured out?

I belong to a great SEO list, and due to a couple questions going on with a site, I needed to verify some SEO knowledge. While getting into dialogues with the SEO experts there, I'm told that I must put my keywords into my alt attributes. The most important one up to three times in the first few images. NOOOO! Imagine what the people using screen readers will hear -- Blathering keyword ridden yada!

How do I balance the need to be kind to all surfers with the need to be kind to the spiders? Must I choose one or the other? Can I not have a fully accessible to humans site that the spiders also adore? I certainly do not have it all figured out.

Category tags: Accessibility, CSS, Dreamweaver, Search

Does Code Validation Matter?

Posted Thursday, January 13, 2005 1:10:18 PM by Stephanie


For a long time I've been the kind of web developer that enjoys writing clean, valid code. I have some web friends that think I'm a little too hard core, but it makes me happy. When I complete a site (or when I run into a problem while developing the XHTML/CSS), I use the Web Developer's Toolbar in Firefox to quickly run the page through HTML and CSS validation. No, I don't put the little button on my sites -- who really cares? But I do make sure it validates.

This week, I had a really odd phenomenon happen. I found myself using proprietary CSS, causing my page not to validate, and then told someone, "Who cares if it validates!" Shocking coming from my mouth... or fingers.

That said, what's validation really for? Is it the end, or the means to an end? Is the goal to create pages that work in the validator? Or pages that work in all major browsers and sell whatever your client is selling?

I've come to believe that if I have to use proprietary code to force a certain browser which shall remain nameless to render code the way it would be rendered if that browser were standards-compliant, and it doesn't harm any other browser's rendering of the page, then I've done my job. If rest of the CSS validates and is written correctly, then I've used my tools wisely and created a site my client can make money from and I can be proud of.

Category tags: CSS, Designing for the Web, Dreamweaver