1

Hey guys (and gals),

I've been wondering this question for the longest time and no Google query I've tried really seems to answer it. So, I'm going to try to ask this question in the most detailed way possible.

Whenever you go onto a forum / discussion board, the layout is pretty much always the same. Each category (and its boards) are contained inside a table layout (or div in the past few years), but would a list be a possible solution to this?

For instance, for each category "wrapper" (containing the category name and all its boards/sub-boards), instead of using a table/div layout, would using a <h3> (category name) and <ul> (boards) be a valid alternative? I figure screen-readers would have a much easier time navigating through a list than a table layout or a half-dozen <div>'s each inside one another.

5
Contributors
11
Replies
12
Views
7 Years
Discussion Span
Last Post by Pro2000
0

Most forums use vBulletin, hence the consistant theme.

Yes, a list could work - if done properly. While this could make reading easier for screen-readers, it would have the adverse effect on web developers. Hunting through a giant list would be a lot more difficult; assuming that you coded the forum yourself.


Regards, Arkinder

0

i agree if you built your own forum from start without the aid of vbulletin/phpbb or forum you could do it but the point to a forum is to a section people are talkin about and then find a topic about that eg gaming forums have sections for different consoles then in there you would find a topic that best suits what you want to know

regards
danny5514

0

Have you considered re-inventing the wheel?

Perhaps you enjoy a challenge, but the most efficient way to get a forum going is to use some of the existing forum software which has been refined over many years, often by teams of developers. There are free forums, including open source ones, and almost any one of them would be more reliable than a home grown system.

The choice of how you lay out the threads is trivial compared to the programming challenges you will face.

Edited by drjohn: n/a

0

First off, thank you for the quick responses! Sometimes, topics can go into exile with no response, so getting not one, but three responses is great!

Under no circumstance would I be looking to "reinvent the wheel", but seeing as how the data is stored in XML files and XSL would be used to create the layout, it shouldn't be hard. Currently, the discussion boards are built with divs and spans for everything, which works...but I'm just trying to see if this alternative would work. Working for a university, the applications available to work with don't consist of the large complexities seen with hugely popular sources like phpBB and vBulletin.

Regarding the appearance of a forum using <li>'s, that's not an issue. We use a lot of floats and width->100% to create <div>-like <li>'s. Everything done to make a forum look a certain way with <div>s can be replicated without much hassle using <li>'s by us...I'm just wondering if it would help with screen readers, seeing as how our University as "at the forefront" of accessibility.

0

Hey guys,

Sorry to bump a 7 month old thread, but I don't want to create a new thread with pretty much the same question.

The reason we want to "reinvent the wheel" so to speak is because accessibility is the most important thing. There is just no way tables are the best way to go when we aren't providing tabular data in any way, shape, or form. Our clients, while mostly non-disabled, also consist of people without sight, so screen-readers need to be able to navigate the entire "content" properly.

At the same time, we do want it to look great and have a lot of functionality, and for that we will probably look to vBulletin as inspiration. But the layout DOES need to change. Also, paid or open-sourced software isn't an option because we have our own data generation (XML) and use XSLT to display the data. We don't work with PHP or ASP.net but rather Java & Tomcat.

0

No worries,

The biggest problem with using lists would be limited functionality. Take a look at these forums for example. How would you even begin to replicate it using lists, while maintaining a consistent look throughout all browsers - plus validation.

As you mentioned before nesting divisions would create an issue too. Although, it's significantly easier for a screen reader to read divisions compared to tables.

One possible solution, and one that requires less work in my opinion. Would be creating the layout in an image editor such as Photoshop, and then slicing it. This would reduce the amount of elements needed to create the layout, which means less elements for the screen reader to dig through. I have no idea what applications you have at your disposal or how familiar you are with them.

Unfortunately that is the most creative solution I can offer right now. If you provide correct headers and unique IDs for important divisions then it really shouldn't be too much of an issue for a screen reader.

Regards
Arkinder

0

We've decided we're going to go ahead and try using either lists or divs to create the design because our campus requires accessibility that is verified by the state. Plus, we have some of the brightest minds in the fields of accessibility working with us, so I don't think it will go badly at all.

Thanks for your help, man!

0

No problem. What are the requirements for state verification? Good luck, and let me know how it goes. I'm only 18 and about to leave for college for in a month - BSc Computer Science Major. This is one of the few things I don't have a lot of experience with so it's kind of interesting.

Regards
Arkinder

0

I don't think that listing is a very good way to show sections and articles unless you don't like to add graphical symbols for sections and articles, or to add much details like about the sender's name, the date of sending the last article and last comment, etc.

0

Regarding the state information, here's a link.

http://www.dhs.state.il.us/page.aspx?item=32765

Thanks for your advice, Pro2000, but we're pretty darn good with HTML and I have full confidence in our ability to mimic table-layouts with unordered lists (for the most part). Plus we hired a fantastic designer who's going to create sketches for us that we'll use to layout the data in an appealing way.

As for lists in general, the accessibility group is completely "pro-list". So, I think we're good.

Once again, thanks to everyone who contributed!

0

Regarding the state information, here's a link.

http://www.dhs.state.il.us/page.aspx?item=32765

Thanks for your advice, Pro2000, but we're pretty darn good with HTML and I have full confidence in our ability to mimic table-layouts with unordered lists (for the most part). Plus we hired a fantastic designer who's going to create sketches for us that we'll use to layout the data in an appealing way.

As for lists in general, the accessibility group is completely "pro-list". So, I think we're good.

Once again, thanks to everyone who contributed!

Don't mention it..
By the way, please tell us and provide us with the link when you finish your design so we would see how it looks.

This topic has been dead for over six months. Start a new discussion instead.
Have something to contribute to this discussion? Please be thoughtful, detailed and courteous, and be sure to adhere to our posting rules.