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Re: Question about use of headings on major news sites


From: Margit Link-Rodrigue
Date: Aug 27, 2010 1:36PM

Birkir, thank you so much for your initial feedback. It already contains a
lot of useful information for me. I feel bad for sending you to the New York
Times website, it uses heading levels much more excessively than BBC. There
are about 200 heading 6 elements on the NYT homepage, can you believe it?

Thanks, Margit

2010/8/27 Birkir Rúnar Gunnarsson < <EMAIL REMOVED> >

> Hi
> 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
> >