WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

E-mail List Archives

RE: Which should come first - navigation OR content?


From: John Foliot - WATS.ca
Date: Apr 25, 2006 8:00AM

Tim Beadle wrote:
> On 25/04/06, ben morrison < <EMAIL REMOVED> > wrote:
>> Recently the trend has been about placing content first and using CSS
>> etc to move the nav into place at the top - visually, the idea being
>> that this would be better for screen readers etc.
>> Recently I stumbled across some research that said since the majority
>> of sites have been built with Nav 1st then Content, it is more likely
>> to confuse most users - annoyingly I didnt bookmark the report.
> But if all that has changed is the source order (ie the visual
> appearance is the same), how does that "confuse most users"?

Users of Adaptive Technology are presented the whole page in the source
order it is authored in (minus the styling). For inexperienced users of
tools such as JAWS and WindowEyes (etc.) there is an expectation that
the navigation will always come first, as that is what they encounter
most of the time - it's almost a Pavlovian reaction (not that I am
comparing these users to dogs <grin>). Thus, when we as authors change
expected behaviours, it *may* cause confusion. This is not to say that
placing the navigation at the end of the source code is bad (especially
with the appropriate "Go To Main Navigation" link at the top of the
document), only that it may initially "confuse" inexperienced users.


Web Accessibility Specialist
WATS.ca - Web Accessibility Testing and Services
Phone: 1-613-482-7053