Three-Column Layouts

For me, it’s pretty rare that I develop fluid website layouts, so I’ve not played much with them. However, as part of a recent project, I needed a way to create a fixed-width sidebar and a fluid second column. I started searching around, and came across an old (January 2006) article from A List Apart (ALA). Although it’s old, it’s still extremely useful. It’s fairly aptly titled “The Holy Grail.”

The article explains how to create a three-column layout with fixed-width side columns and a fluid center column. For this particular application, I modified it slightly to use a two-column layout, but I’ve since realized just how powerful and useful the techniques described in the article are.

ARIA Landmark Roles – Increasing Accessibility

I stumbled across a neat tool to be used during Web site development the other day. The tool uses javascript to examine the page and presents you with an overlay report of the accessibility issues in the page. The tool was developed by and is available from Accessify. It’s called the “Quick Page Accessibility Test.” Installing the app is as simple as dragging it to your Favorites/Bookmarks bar. Then, whenever you visit a page, you can click on the bookmark and the accessibility tester will pop over the page you’re viewing (complete with context overlays).

Anyway, after I installed the application and tested one of my pages, I came across an accessibility warning I had never encountered before. The warning message looked something like “This appears to be a list of links. Perhaps this should be marked up with ARIA landmark role ‘Navigation’.” I had never heard of ARIA landmark roles, so I ran off to try to do some research on the subject. About all I was able to find in my first attempt were some abstracts from the W3C.