HTML Writers Guild Guild Operations Newsletters Tips Aug00b

HWG-News Tips Late August 2000

Design tips for handheld devices

HWG-News features member-submitted "tips" in each issue, in the space between articles and announcements. These were the tips submitted for the 21 August 2000 newsletter, for the following category:

Design tips for handheld devices

Now that webphones, Palm Pilots, and other handheld devices are accessing the web, how do you code your pages so that these users can access your site?

This issue's winner!

To make sure pages are accessible to all kinds of devices, separate presentation and from content, make sure everything validates (with e.g. and comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines that you can find at

-- Submitted by Kjetil Kjernsmo <>

Other design tips for handheld devices

Javascript is my largest bane when surfing on the Palm.  In your desktop browser, turn it off and make sure your site still works.  Fancy navigation menus often fail, leaving an unbrowsable site.

    -- Submitted by Jordan Reed <>

Working for the government and during our recent training and work around the 508 issue in congress we've been having to make our sites work for the blind reader machines and software.  This not only helps people with visual disabilities better explore and use the internet but it also helps the handheld devices which work on similar technologies as they strip the graphics and other such things out of a website and focus on the content.  If you want to know more about how to code your website for ease of handheld use, you might want to check out the W3's sections on Accessibility.

    -- Submitted by Teanah <>

It is a good idea to try to follow W3C's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines when designing a webpage.  By following these guidelines, pages will be viewable by monochrome screens, by text-only browsers, and be readable by screen-reader software.  These guidelines can be found here. A convenient checklist is here.

    -- Submitted by Chris G. <>

We may have stopped using the NOFRAMES tag because most major browsers support frames.  Avantgo on the Palm does not support frames.  The NOFRAMES tag will allow the Palm Avantgo user to still see your pages that contain frames.  Without the NOFRAMES tag, the Palm users will only see a blank screen.

    -- Submitted by Jim Travis <>

When I design pages that apply the recommendations outlined in the HWG course on 'Designing universally accessible pages', and which pass the 'Bobby' proof test for access by blind users, they are accessible from a cell-phone screen.  So many features that enable audio text readers to access web-based material are not unsimilar to those that enable other devices with small screens to access the material.

The HWG 'Introduction to XML' course also provided useful ideas on this issue.  I would suggest that web developers keep a close eye on the XML development.  Reported predictions are that by 2002, 75% of all web-browsing will be via hand-helds, cell phones, TVs and a variety of other 'non-standard' devices.

    -- Submitted by Patsy Clarke <>

Are you using a small in-line GIF for a "Bullet"? Don't forget the ALT component of the IMG tag. Instead of ALT="Red Ball", on that SRC="redball.gif" use ALT="*" or ALT="#". These are characters that LOOK like Bullets in non-graphic browsers.

    -- Submitted by Richard Cheshire <>

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