UDM Blog – Web Accessibility, Development, Marketing and Trends

Keeping you informed on the lastest web development and accessibility information.

UDM v4.6 is available!

July 25th, 2011

This extensive release consolidates support for recent versions of all major web browsers. In addition, it brings a number of bugfixes and extension updates for smoother navigation and better display of menus and tooltips.

Version 4.6 adds/confirms support for the following new browsers:

  • IE8
  • Google Chrome
  • Firefox 3
  • Opera 9/10
  • Safari 3/4/5
  • Konqueror 4

This version also includes the following, unrelated bugfixes:

  • extended full arrow-key navigation to Konqueror 4.0 or later
  • fixed an arrow-position bug in IE7 with right-aligned horizontal navbars
  • fixed the auto-sizing menus extension, so that additional leeway space is not added to first-level menus of a horizontal navbar if they’re sized to match their parent link
  • fixed a bug with the you-are-here extension in all versions of IE so that here-indicated links have the correct arrow-rollover
  • added support for the onfocus tooltips extension to Opera 9 or later, Safari 3 or later, and Google Chrome
  • added support for the sliding menus extension to Konqueror 4

There’s one significant change to the Keyboard navigation module:

  • changed the default keyboard navigation hotkey from F12 to F8 because F12 is used by default by Expose in OSX. The new value works in all browsers that support full keyboard navigation, without any native conflict. Existing implementations can make this change by modifying the 5th value in um.keys (keyboard navigation hotkey) from “123″ to “119″

A long awaited UDM4 update will be available soon

June 14th, 2010

It’s been a long time coming but it’s almost here. The UDM4 vertion 4.6 will be out by the end of July. This update to the dynamic menu script will bring the javascript menu current with contemporary browser versions.

   – Google Chrome

   – Safari 3+

   – IE8

   – Firefox 3+

   – Opera 9+ 

In addition to changes to the core files, there will also be changes to some of the extension scripts. There are also has a couple of bugfixes for IE7, and some other minor tweaks.

This will be a free update to all UDM4 license holders. Please stay tuned and watch this blog as well as watch for email notices.

More details to come…

5 Easy steps to web accessibility.

March 3rd, 2009

Many people starting out in web development can be easily overwhelmed by all the terminology. Just look at the following sentence…

Just ping the API using PHP and SOAP, parse the XML and apply the correct XSLT to generate valid XHTML and apply your CSS.

Add in terms like WAI, WCAG, and US Section 508 and a beginner, and even mid-level programmer, can easily get lost.

To help budding developers, and those who want to learn more about accessibility and implement it into your web site, I’ve put together this list of 5 easy steps to help you get on the right path.
Read the rest of this entry »

E-commerce for small retailers gets more competitive than ever.

February 16th, 2009

I market for a few small business e-commerce sites and have been doing so for over a year.  Things were humming along nicely until September 2008.  ROI was rising month after month.  Then the credit crisis news hit in earnest.  My sales took a 25% dive.  Now it’s February and we are looking at 40% less in sales from the same period last year.    Most of my client’s are well-known brand product based and I’ve used product feeds to get traffic.   Based on the analytics I am looking at, a lot more people are window shopping compared to last year.  Also, please are visiting the comparison sites and are willing to surf around and take extra time to find the best bargain possible.

Last year submitting to the product feeds, having a good price and free shipping was good enough.  This year it’s having a rock bottom price, free shipping(but upping the minimum purchase so a profit margin is retained) and funneling more marketing dollars to the comparison sites.    There are some major players in the industries that I market for and these sites have gotten very aggressive with pricing.  Offering 20% off coupons and similar.  This makes a small retailers job of competing difficult at best.  Small retailers can’t lower pricing to the minimum, offer free shipping and offer coupons.  That is a recipe for zero profits.

Build it right the first time, every time.

February 9th, 2009

I recently had a small project that went absolutely out of control because the client always had the attitude of “if there’s a 5 minute approach, and a 15 minute approach, take the 5 minute approach every time”.

Sure that sounds nice. And everyone wants to save a few dollars on design and development, especially in this economy, but it’s also possible to be penny-wise (as this client was) and pound foolish.

Cliches aside, what this client wanted to do was to integrate several third party applications into a single platform. They wanted an ecommerce engine, social networking engine, forum software, blogging software and a few other common admin apps like CRM and consolidated invoicing system. The problems with integrating the application code were not trivial, but doable. The real problem is that each and every one of these third party apps had their own CSS “concept”. Every one (or at least it seemed like every one) contained their content in a <div> called “wrapper” or “main-content” or similar. While this is a standard technique when you’re building your own corporate site, I have determined that it is a VERY BAD technique when distributing your application to the world.


Because, resolving the conflicts in CSS can be very time consuming, especially if you’re shooting for 100% pixel perfect matches to design documents.

Case and point: This client (who wanted the 5 minute approach) insisted that I should go into the templates and just add inline CSS styles to the right places. That was the “5 minute” approach. I pushed back, and hard, to wrap the pages in a unique ID for each independent system, then re-code their CSS selectors as needed to resolve the major conflicts, then tweak as necessary. (i.e. the 15 minute solution – ok maybe not 15 minutes because these systems had more than one CSS file and some people do really stupid things, but you get the idea). Well, after a lengthy, non-billable time debate, I gave in to the “the client is always right” concept (Note: post on that coming later). And simply did the changes – inline!

Well, it didn’t take long for all those “5 minute” tasks to snow ball. After about 2 hours of “5 minute” changes, we started checking in other browsers and low and behold there were problems. Yes, they were in IE6, but they were still problems. Now the client wanted to fix those “inline” too. At which point I told them that it wasn’t technically possible to do conditional inline styles and was told to do “conditional comments” to make it work. Oh boy. Needless to say, we ended up with a hodge podge of sloppy code that I am totally ashamed to ever be a part of. (Note: A post on clients who know too much is coming soon too :D ). The bottom line in the project is, with the time it took to make all the “5 minute” changes, I could have completed my original process and had time to spare.

Which brings me back to my original point – and a NOTE to third party web application developers. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, start encapsulating, prepending and otherwise uniquely identifying your CSS selectors with some type of naming convention so it’s easier to integrate with other systems. Magento – prepend all your selectors with “MAGENTO_” for example. PHPBB, you can do the same “PHPBB_” etc. In my opinion, the only people who should be using common selector names like “content”, “wrapper” or “main” are the site designers and developers. Your “wrapper” id should not conflict with mine, and to be honest, I really shouldn’t, as a developer, have to either re-code your CSS or mine just to add it to my site. Especially if you’re charging for your product.

I hope you found this article helpful. Feel free to comment.

Will Google go after bloggers?

February 2nd, 2009

I find it interesting that selling text links still is popular on the web.    You would think Google’s whipping of Web sites selling text links across the web would have essentially erraticated the practice.   Many of you are probably aware of the several ‘get paid to blog’ sites out there.  These are the ‘new’ paid method of text links.   I have to assume it’s only a matter of time before Google catches up to these methods and punishes advertisers and/or bloggers for buying/selling text links.

What is stopping Google from crawling through the listings of bloggers?  Then crawling through their blogs and identifying the potential Web sites that are paying for links.  All seems quite simple to me from a Google engineers standpoint.   Google cracked down on standard text links and I suspect they will do it again with any new method of buying and selling text links.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this…

Web Accessibility in a down economy

January 27th, 2009

We all know that the economy isn’t in the midst of a boom. Heck, it’s nowhere near that. And we all know that many companies are holding back on new development work, or trying to save as much as possible on the projects that are moving forward. But where does accessibility come into the overall financial considerations?

Many companies take the attitude that web development with accessibility in mind only increases the overall cost of a development project. Not so. In fact, I would argue that properly setting up an accessible and semantic web site from the beginning is significantly less expensive than the losses you will incur down the road. Losses realized either through reduced traffic or reduced sales, or reduced advertising. Additionally, in this economy, the last thing you want to do with your web site is give up on any visitors. Every one of them is a potential sale or lead. Now is the time to make sure your web site is reaching the absolute most people possible. Ignoring accessibility can potentially block anywhere from 5 – 25% of your user base. When faced with declining sales, leads, or other metrics, why add insult to injury?

The stark reality is that costs related to accessibility, just like costs related to many other aspects of a project, are more directly related to the overall management, planning and implementation of the project than the actual time and materials to implement the feature. Sure, a poorly implemented accessibility strategy can cost a lot of money. But so can a poorly implemented registration system, e-commerce solution, or any other web-based application. The key is all in the planning. If you go in with a solid path to success, and manage the development well, the impact to your budget will be minimal, and the benefits through increased traffic, leads, sales or advertising revenue will more than offset any additional costs related to accessibility implementation.

Accessibility isn’t a “nice to have” in a bad economy – it’s a must have!

Announcing the UDM4 Blog

January 7th, 2009

As part of our 2009 resolutions to better serve the UDM4 and web development community, we’re please to announce the addition of the UDM4 blog to our site.

In the coming months, we will be focusing on providing you with timely, useful, and relevant information in the fields of accessibility, web development, marketing and search engine optimization.

If you would like to contribute to the UDM4 blog, we are currently accepting applications for blogger. Please submit your application to info@udm4.com with the subject “Blog Application” and indicate which area of interest you would like to discuss.

We hope that the addition of the blog, in conjunction with our already successful forum, will help you grow in your web development and accessibility career.  Hopefully this new blog will help me pay my high monthly car insurance bill.


Ultimate Dropdown Menu 4.5

UDM is a fully-featured and accessible DHTML dropdown menu, that provides useable content to all browsers - including screenreaders, search-engines, text-only browsers and any web enabled device such as PDAs, iPhones ®, and Blackberrys ®. But having a dropdown menu that makes use of the key benefits of accessibility shouldn't mean compromise, and so UDM includes a sophisticated range of design and usability controls, to give you a tool with unique capabilities:

We'll customise for you!

With our in-depth knowledge we can save you time and money in development.

Get a quote today!

Server-Side Frameworks

UDM is available in a range of server-side frameworks, that generate CSS and scripting on the server, and can bring the total filesize to only 20K!

Recent articles

Initialization trigger element
Defining a trigger element allows the menu script to initialize before window.onload!
The implications of initializing before window.onload
Any scripting you do which is tied into the API "Ready" event (event "010") may need to be checked to make sure it still behaves correctly.
Setting the character-match value for allowed filenames
The file path in the PHP configuration can now contain "\" (backslash) and ":" (colon), for greater compatibility with Windows server paths.
Refreshing the tree after dynamic changes
Using the um.refresh method, you can add or remove items after page load, or populate the menus using AJAX.

Popular extensions

"You are here"
Tells you where you are in the navigation tree.
Load XML
Use an XML document as your menu data source.
Scrolling Menus
Adds up/down scrolling behavior to overlong menus.

See all available extensions


UDM 4 is valid XHTML, and in our judgement, meets the criteria for WAI Triple-A conformance.