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Proper use of h1 tag site title or content title

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Reply with quote Hey

Iv just started re-building a website of mine and just wanted to get peoples opinion on the best use of h1 tags.

Im currently following the method of using h1 for the sites name on the homepage and then on all other pages using h1 for the pages title (e.g. contact us)

Is this how you would recommend using the h1 tag or in your oppinions is it better used as the sites title across all pages in the site.

Thanks
Reply with quote
Phill wrote:
Hey

Iv just started re-building a website of mine and just wanted to get peoples opinion on the best use of h1 tags.

Im currently following the method of using h1 for the sites name on the homepage and then on all other pages using h1 for the pages title (e.g. contact us)

Is this how you would recommend using the h1 tag or in your oppinions is it better used as the sites title across all pages in the site.

Thanks


H1 should be used for the top level headings, so depending on it's context h1 should then be followed by the sub heading h2, then h3 and so on.

Using an h1 for the main heading on the page, such as contact us is the way I would go.

You may find this of interest.....
http://www.w3.org/QA/Tips/Use_h1_for_Title

also....
http://www.accessifyforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=10977

Adrian

Web Deign and Accessibility Breakofday - Painting and Decorating Property Decorating
Reply with quote Fwiw, this subject as been discussed on here before - at length, iirc.
It's worth doing a search.

HTH


[edit]

Perhaps this is the forum/thread that I was thinking of…

http://www.boagworld.com/forum/comments.php?DiscussionID=2624 Wink



However, …

http://www.accessifyforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=9835
Reply with quote Thanks iv checked the links out they where pretty helpfull
Reply with quote
Bill Posters wrote:
However, …
http://www.accessifyforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=9835
Embarassed My views have changed regarding this topic even though they originally came directly from the mouth of blind screen reader users.

The heading structure should start with the content H1 as this makes it very easy for Screan Reader users to jump directly to the content by pressing "1" on the keyboard (as well as SEO benefits). The W3C own website does this apart from the homepage where they have used H1 for the logo (a little inconsistent but it is the homepage)... the rest of the W3C pages start content at H1.

Doing this can make it a laborious task to find the navigation if your a blind user. Skip links should be added right at the top to the navigation, keyword search and content.

Sorted.

Johan De Silva / Portfolio
Reply with quote We've recently had an accessibility audit of one of our sites, including testing by disabled users. Something that came out of that is that we were criticised for using the site name as h1 on every page. That practice confuses people who use the main heading on a page to orient themselves within a site.

Based on that testing, the main heading on a page should be the content title and, if possible, it should be the only h1 on the page.

Jim O'Donnell
work: Royal Observatory Greenwich
play: eatyourgreens
Reply with quote
eatyourgreens wrote:
We've recently had an accessibility audit of one of our sites, including testing by disabled users. Something that came out of that is that we were criticised for using the site name as h1 on every page. That practice confuses people who use the main heading on a page to orient themselves within a site.

Could that not be described as a symptom of bad habits/mistrained expectations, rather than a symptom of bad markup?
(I don't know, just throwing the question out there for consideration.)

Sure, conventions are best when they're intuitive, but I'm not sure that there is an intuitively and definitively right answer to the question of how best to use the h1 element.

I'm aware that my views on how best to use h1* are becoming increasingly unfashionable (particularly in light of how notions of SEO have impacted upon attitudes towards markup), but I still consider them 'more correct' in terms of IA.
(*namely that it should in some way reflect the site name; possibly only the site name)

One of my main issues arises from the fact that sighted users rarely reference the title bar text itself when it comes to taking in the structure of the document.
(Of course, this too could be considered as a bad/unfortunate habit.)
If the study referenced above by EYG is any measure, title elements are routinely ignored by non-sighted users too.

Additionally, the visual prominence of site names in the design is something which I feel reflects and contributes to the convention that the site name is one of the foremost - if not the foremost - items of information presented on the page.

In basic terms, I have a real problem appreciating how the site name is 'lesser' than the content heading?
I can't help but think that the prominence of the site name in the visual appearance of a site is a reflection of deeper understandings and expectations of IA and information hierarchy amongst users.
(The fact that the sitename/logo appears similarly prominent on every page of a site is a symptom of the non-linearity of websites, where users might arrive at any page, rather than via the cover/homepage.)

The content is a child of the site, so it still makes more sense to me that, given that the site name appears in the markup, it should enjoy a higher level hx element than the site content.


However…

One option I haven't previously considered is that h1 elements could perhaps be used to reflect both the site name and the site content heading (though not necessarily in that order), much in the same way that we optimally use title element text.
If title elements are being routinely ignored by sighted and unsighted users alike, then perhaps the most appropriate course of action would be for the h1 to take on its role in terms of body markup.

(I appreciate that this may entail some repetition for screenreader users, but that in itself is not a reason not to do something, if it's still believed to be 'most correct'.)

As (probably) mentioned before, I'm generally skeptical of any 'fixes' inspired solely by the desire to better cater to impaired users, particularly when they don't seem to tally with (my understanding of) the broader conventions of IA.


Hmmm. It's always an interesting topic.
Reply with quote Using heading elements at all puts you leagues ahead of the mainstream, even today. Providing sensible <title> text is a similarly rare treasure. If you do both in a consistent manner throughout the website, you probably deserve a medal!

Incidentally, if the <title> contains the site name then marking up the site name as a heading soon afterwards is redundant? A <p> or similar would do? That isn't what I do every time, though.

The <title> text tends to be read out first when voicing ATs reach a new web page. Tabbed browsing means <title> text is close to or even touching the top of the web page.
Reply with quote
Cerbera wrote:
Incidentally, if the <title> contains the site name then marking up the site name as a heading soon afterwards is redundant?

I would agree were it not for the apparent case that users, sighted or otherwise, aren't always taking in the contents of the title element when engaging with a page.

On a side note, the same point about redundancy could be made about page-specific headings. We are increasingly being being made aware that it's good practice to include the page-specific content heading in the title element. If it appears there, then couldn't it also be said that repeating it in a (prominent) heading element soon afterwards is redundant?

Quote:
The <title> text tends to be read out first when voicing ATs reach a new web page. Tabbed browsing means <title> text is close to or even touching the top of the web page.

That being so, why do you think that some AT users are reportedly still becoming disoriented by the use of a constant h1?
Would they be skipping/tabbing past it too hastily?

Also, what do you mean by 'tends to be read out'? Is it not a standard, default setting across the board for AT UAs?



Quote:
A <p> or similar would do?

I'm not sure that would be semantically fitting as the site name isn't really a paragraph, particularly when compared to the content of other p elements typically found on a page.
The site name is one of the morsels relating the hierarchy of the content within the page and the page within the broader context of the web, so I feel fairly certain that the site name warrants a heading of some level. The question as I see it is - how high?
Reply with quote Bill why are you unwilling to separate content from navigation and header elements when clearly this is the direction we are heading in with HTML5. More importantly how would you like Screen Reader users to find the content start when common practice is to simply press "1" and skip all the crap including heavily SEO'ed <title> tag from being read out? This one reason why the BBC website is so easy to navigate compared to say play.com.

Johan De Silva / Portfolio
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Johan007 wrote:
Bill why are you unwilling to separate content from navigation and header elements when clearly this is the direction we are heading in with HTML5.

Firstly, the question set by the OP wasn't "What will be the best use of the h1 element in 3-4 years time, if and when HTML5 becomes the most widely supported standard and the new structural elements come on-stream".

Please explain.

I don't recall making any comments at all about navigation elements in the course of this discussion and I'm not sure how my comments could be intrepreted as to related to navigation elements.
If you're referring to comments made in the previously linked BoagWorld discussion, then it's worth bearing in mind that that discussion was a year ago, making the patterns proposed in HTML5 even less relevant to a discussion about 'current' best practice.


Secondly, last I heard, HTML5 wasn't the only offer on the table. It's just one of the two pathways presented by the schism at W3C.
It may well turn out to be the de facto heir to HTML4.x, but there's going to be plenty of time to discuss crossing that bridge when we come to it.
Discussing HTML5+ patterns within the context of achievable best practices in August 2008 seems more than a little premature.
It doesn't appear to me to be altogether useful to point at HTML5 today and ask why I don't seem to be advocating its patterns today.


In the event that the prevailing markup scheme of the day is one which includes those new, worthwhile semantic additions, then of course I'll use them and advocate them - and expect UAs to support them.
The options I'm discussing and putting forward here and now are simply what I consider to be the optimal solutions given the tools we have at our disposal today.

Quote:
More importantly how would you like Screen Reader users to find the content start when common practice is to simply press "1" and skip all the crap including heavily SEO'ed <title> tag from being read out?

Would it kill them to tab again? If it became the prevailing mindset that h1 = sitename, then they'd have to learn to tab past it.
Markup schemes shouldn't be devised with the intent of aiding any particular audience by facilitating questionable habits.

In all honesty, as far as the discussion of IA goes, I don't care about UAs - which is to say, that markup schemes shouldn't be led by concerns for any particular class of UA or even by existing conventions supported by UAs.
It's the UAs' job to follow and support those ideals. How individual UAs provide an interface between the ideals and the user is primarily the UA developer's problem, not the web author's.

For example, if HTML5 were to become the current, deployed markup standard, then AT UAs would need to find a more graceful approach to dealing with alt-less img elements than they currently have.
I may not agree with HTML5's approach to alt attributes being optional, but if that becomes the foremost ideal of those in current circulaton, then it's for UA developers to fall in line behind it.


That aside, I don't see a real problem with any of the current models (h1 = site name, h1 = page specific heading or h1 = page specific heading + site name).
The problem your describing isn't really a problem with the title, h1 or h2 elements, they're a problem with over-zealous web authors.
What's the worst that could happen? Users either learn to tab past the h1 on that site or they have to listen to one sentence again.

• Besides, if users are skipping the title content because it's excessively SEOd, are the h1s any less likely to be heavily SEOd? SEO zealots know that h1 carries alot of SEO weight, so why would they trick-out their titles, but not their h1s?

• Additionally, if users are skipping the title, then imo, they should be getting the site name pretty early on in the body, as that defines the page content hierarchically - in that the page content is a child of the site (not vice versa).
(However, imo, there is a right approach to title and a right approach to body markup, including heading elements. How users may or may not interact with either part should not affect how we approach the task of populating our title and hx elements.)

• The title should reflect the page content to some extent, as should the higher/highest heading elements, so there's presumably no reason to expect, or to want, a significant difference between the content of title element and the higher/highest heading elements, whichever of the current approaches you personally endorse.

• If we're discussing 'what ifs' and allowing HTML5+ patterns into the discussion, then AT UAs could skip to content by skipping to the first/highest hx element after the header element has closed.



That's probably enough from me for now. Apologies if it rambles a bit. Wink
Reply with quote
Bill Posters wrote:
Would it kill them to tab again?
...and again, and again until they find the content?
Bill Posters wrote:
In all honesty, as far as the discussion of IA goes, I don't care about UAs - which is to say, that markup schemes shouldn't be led by concerns for any particular class of UA or even by existing conventions supported by UAs.
Your on Accessify Forum, surely the aim of this forum is to write better websites for all and so far starting the content with <h1> leads to more real world benefits than starting the logo with <h1>.
Bill Posters wrote:
Besides, if users are skipping the title content because it's excessively SEOd, are the h1s any less likely to be heavily SEOd? SEO zealots know that h1 carries alot of SEO weight, so why would they trick-out their titles, but not their h1s?
Beucase title are seen clearly on the page and much less likely to be clean and designed for users - fact (search the web and see).
Bill Posters wrote:
Additionally, if users are skipping the title, then imo, they should be getting the site name pretty early on in the body, as that defines the page content hierarchically - in that the page content is a child of the site (not vice versa).
I would guess users know what site there on most of the time and do not need it empathized with a heading but can go searching for it if they like (CTR+Home etc..)
Bill Posters wrote:

• The title should reflect the page content to some extent, as should the higher/highest heading elements, so there's presumably no reason to expect, or to want, a significant difference between the content of title element and the higher/highest heading elements, whichever of the current approaches you personally endorse.
Your model may push the content down to a lower hx if there are navigation bars and a searchbox, and login box all giving headings as well with no standard.
Bill Posters wrote:

• If we're discussing 'what ifs' and allowing HTML5+ patterns into the discussion, then AT UAs could skip to content by skipping to the first/highest hx element after the header element has closed.

Yeah agreed would be good Smile
Bill Posters wrote:

That's probably enough from me for now. Apologies if it rambles a bit. Wink

Me too, lets just agree to disagree but know this Bill, hx assigned to the content is on the side of the majority of websites including BBC and W3C.

Johan De Silva / Portfolio
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Johan007 wrote:
Bill Posters wrote:
Would it kill them to tab again?
...and again, and again until they find the content?

We're only talking about placing one hx element ahead of the content heading. If they're tabbing through hx elements, then they'd only need to tab once more to move from a sitename h1 to a content heading h1 or h2.

Quote:
Bill Posters wrote:
In all honesty, as far as the discussion of IA goes, I don't care about UAs - which is to say, that markup schemes shouldn't be led by concerns for any particular class of UA or even by existing conventions supported by UAs.
Your on Accessify Forum, surely the aim of this forum is to write better websites for all and so far starting the content with <h1> leads to more real world benefits than starting the logo with <h1>.

I'm here to understand how to ensure that the markup I use allows access to impaired users. I'm not here to drink so much of the house vino that my understanding of correct IA plays second fiddle to the preferences and habits of some impaired users.

As mentioned, I have certain views about how best to markup a document. The site name is an important part of the information hierarchy on the page. It is the umbrella information for all content on all pages of a site.
If starting the content with an h1 benefits AT users, but conflicts with my understanding of correct IA, then unfortunately, AT users are going to have to deal with a very slight - but not particularly uncommon - usability hit by tabbing once, past the site name to the h1 or h2 that introduces the page content.

Quote:
Bill Posters wrote:
Besides, if users are skipping the title content because it's excessively SEOd, are the h1s any less likely to be heavily SEOd? SEO zealots know that h1 carries alot of SEO weight, so why would they trick-out their titles, but not their h1s?
Beucase title are seen clearly on the page and much less likely to be clean and designed for users - fact (search the web and see).

I'm a little confused here. Titles, by which I assume you mean the content of title elements, don't appear on the page at all.
Could you please elaborate or explain differently.


Quote:
Bill Posters wrote:
Additionally, if users are skipping the title, then imo, they should be getting the site name pretty early on in the body, as that defines the page content hierarchically - in that the page content is a child of the site (not vice versa).
I would guess users know what site there on most of the time and do not need it empathized with a heading but can go searching for it if they like (CTR+Home etc..)

Why guess? Why presume? Why not simply give it an (arguably) appropriate hx element?

If you're give it anything less than an h1, what do you give it?
What does your choice of element say about the site name in terms of the hierarchy of all the information carried on the page - i.e. within the body markup?


Quote:
Your model may push the content down to a lower hx if there are navigation bars and a searchbox, and login box all giving headings as well with no standard.

If the page-specific content is the second-most general piece of info on the page, then I believe that the most appropriate hx element would be h2.

I'm certainly not suggesting that we put the page-specific content heading at a lower hx than nav or search boxes. At a stretch, nav and search could arguably also be given an h2, though I'm not entirely convinced that this would be correct either.

Johan007 wrote:
…but know this Bill, hx assigned to the content is on the side of the majority of websites including BBC and W3C.

I'm not entirely sure that it's safe to assert that h1 is used for content heading on the majority of sites. There are far too many sites lacking regard for semantics to say for with such certainty.

Besides, it wasn't that long ago that the vast majority, if not all, major and minor sites used tables for layout and we'd not think that they were doing anything wrong.

'Most popular' doesn't mean 'most right' - or should we assume that because the majority of websites are still unlikely to be properly accessible, then it's right that sites should not be accessible and that we should all be pursuing the same level of inaccessibility as the majority?

Alternatively, we could simply stop short of assuming that we've reached our final destination just yet and consider that there may still be more lessons to be learned. Wink
Reply with quote Just to chip in here if I may, I'd say a single H1 for the page content. The page title should have already done the job of telling someone what site they are on as well as introducing the content. Other headings should be nested under the page content, even if they are for non-related items such as <h2>related items</h2>.
The rationale here is that it is far easier for a screen reader user to find a single H1 marking the start of the content than it is to sift through multiple H2s to find the main content heading.

Note that screen reader users don't tab through headings unless they are already in the headings dialogue, other times they will press H to cycle through headings, or corresponding numeric keys (1 for H1 etc.).

Screen readers are generally pretty good at guiding the user through nested content and will inform the user when they are at the end of the nest by saying something like "no more Heading level 3" and then cycle to the next H2 if it exists.

Getting the headings right is pretty important if you want a first class site, although as someone already said, having any kind of heading markup is extremely useful. Conistency is probably more important than specifically how you mark up your heading structure, as users will quickly learn how to find ther way around sites with consistent markup.

Note that I have occasionally heard people complain about too many headings on a page on. This gives users too much information to sift through, imagine if your favorite newspaper had 40 headings; you wouldn't know where to start! But few sites actually suffer this issue.

I hope my ramblings make some sense.

Grant Broome
Blog
CDSM
Shaw Trust
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Quote:
Bill Posters wrote:
Besides, if users are skipping the title content because it's excessively SEOd, are the h1s any less likely to be heavily SEOd? SEO zealots know that h1 carries alot of SEO weight, so why would they trick-out their titles, but not their h1s?
I meant to say commonly the headings is less SEO'ed with spam words than the <title> that is often crammed with keywords. This is going slightly off topic.


Bill Posters wrote:
If you're give it anything less than an h1, what do you give it?
I would give it a lonely <img> or <a><img> because that what it is. This way a screen reader user can still find it if needed but it is unnecessary to have it in your face <H1> or <title> guaranteed to be read out all the time. The logo is often navigation when linked and is not part of the Information Architecture or more importantly Content IMO but this where we defer.

I refer to W3C content pages where the logo has been joined with the navigation with no content heading above it. The only time I see the logo being a <h1> is on the homepage just like W3C.

Grant Broome wrote:
Just to chip in here if I may, I'd say a single H1 for the page content. The page title should have already done the job of telling someone what site they are on as well as introducing the content.
W3C wrote:
Authors should use the TITLE element to identify the contents of a document.
Ben mentioned this before and I refer to the same quote that the W3C do not specifically say the site name is a requirement of the <title> tag and they do not do this themselves. It is however common practice on many other sites but mainly for the look it gives in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) than information structure.

Grant Broome wrote:
Consistency is probably more important than specifically how you mark up your heading structure, as users will quickly learn how to find their way around sites with consistent markup.
Totally agree. It is easy to write consistent heading structure when starting content with h1 but when you start marking the site name with h1 my concern is that people will start marking up other parts of the site such as search box, headings and login box's. It all gets rather confusing. I know whats easier for screen reader users and I often fire up JAWS while watching the football with the sound off (or recently the Olympics) and I am naturally drawn towards sites that are easy to navigate.

Grant offtopic I see accesskey's are in use across your website I presume they are still used?

Johan De Silva / Portfolio

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