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Re: Question about use of headings on major news sites


From: Birkir RĂșnar Gunnarsson
Date: Aug 27, 2010 1:18PM


I will look through some of these sites andgive you feedback.
One thing I want to warn against, in general, is excessive use of
headings. www.bbcnews.com recently updated their outlook and every
newslink is now a level 2 heading. This causes my screen reader to say
"level 2 heading" beore any link is read, unless I mess with the
verbosity settings, and it takes away the main purpose of headings
i.e. to give aquick navigation point to move to for
"skimming"purposes. It is abit like underlining the entire text book
instead of theimportant parts.
I'd like a featured story to be its own heading, I'd like subsections
of the web site (sport, weather, local etc) to have their own
headings, but do not use headings excessively.
Another technique that I, and most web users I know, use to get to the
main story is to use the "n" key of my screen reader, that shows the
first text on the page that is not a link. Many pages are structured
with the main links in a list at the beginning of the page and the
first text that is not a link is the text of the main story.
This does away with the need for a heading in a sense, but not all
users use this and the interpretation of this functionality seem to
vary slightly among the screen readers so it might not be a reliable
technique, at least not consistent.
I know this is not wat you asked for, but please do skip the "click
here to read more" links on every news story. So many online sites do
this and it is extremely frustrating, because if you want to read the
whole story you click on the link with its title.
Also this makes it difficult when you navigate by using Jaws key f7
(or other SR equivalent) to get a list of all links on the page.

On 8/27/10, Margit Link-Rodrigue < <EMAIL REMOVED> > wrote:
> I am trying to establish best practices for our corporate website, and
> thought I would give some extra emphasis to the use of headings. Different
> opinions exist about whether it matters not to skip from <h1> headings to
> <h3> headings, but content management systems often cause this non-linear
> structure.
> I figured I'd take a look at how the big news outlets structure their sites
> to get some inspiration. However, I am rather surprised at the rather
> chaotic use of headings, and it looks to me as if it would be very difficult
> for screen reader users to navigate any of those sites.
> For example, the Wall Street Journal homepage at
> http://online.wsj.com/home-page. Is it even possible for a screen reader
> user to find out what the featured news story is? Then, when you start
> reading an article, it never has any headings (since all headings seem to be
> used up for structuring the page's content areas as distinct sections.) This
> seems to be common practice (I checked cnn.com, nyt.com, time.com) - no
> sub-headings within articles.
> Foxnews.com was the only news site I found that at least sometimes uses
> headings in their articles for sighted users. The headings, however, are not
> marked up as such. Example: Current fox news cover story at:
> http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/08/27/katrina-years-hurricane-devastated-political-futures-new-orleans/
> .
> My question is, how easy or frustrating is it for screen reader users to
> navigate any of these news sites? And why don't newspapers use any headings
> in general within articles, even if the articles are long? I guess they want
> the readers to read the entire article rather than skipping through it?
> Thank you,
> Margit