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Thread: page should contain no more than two h1 elements

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Number of posts in this thread: 32 (In chronological order)

From: M Akram Danish
Date: Mon, Jun 15 2009 11:35AM
Subject: page should contain no more than two h1 elements
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can anyone explain this

The page should contain no more than two h1 elements.Warn: 18 h1 elements were found.
The text content of each h1 element should match all or part of the title content.Warn: 18 h1 elements do not meet the criteria.
h1 is level 1 heading if we have sub heading then we will use h2 but if
we have many main heading then what should we do if we cannot use more
than 2 h1?

Akram

From: Dean Hamack
Date: Mon, Jun 15 2009 11:40AM
Subject: Re: page should contain no more than two h1 elements
← Previous message | Next message →

I never use more than one h1.

The h1 tag is supposed to be the most important tag on the page, and it
should describe what the rest of the content is about. In most cases, this
is the page title, like "Contact Information"

Then under that h1 you might have additional sub-headings like "E-Mail
Directory", or "Customer Service".

I can't think of any situation that would require more than one h1.


On 6/15/09 10:33 AM, "M Akram Danish" < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = > wrote:

> can anyone explain this
>
> The page should contain no more than two h1 elements.Warn: 18 h1 elements were
> found.
> The text content of each h1 element should match all or part of the title
> content.Warn: 18 h1 elements do not meet the criteria.
> h1 is level 1 heading if we have sub heading then we will use h2 but if
> we have many main heading then what should we do if we cannot use more
> than 2 h1?

From: Steve Green
Date: Mon, Jun 15 2009 11:55AM
Subject: Re: page should contain no more than two h1 elements
← Previous message | Next message →

There's really no answer to this discussion.

Some people structure their headings in terms of importance, in which case
they will probably only have one h1. Others (like me) structure their
headings according to the type of content, in which case we often have more
than one h1. I believe the HTML specification allows both or is at best
ambiguous.

Nevertheless, 18 h1 headings does sound excessive, although there may be a
good reason for them.

As a separate issue I have a problem with tools that report non-compliances
as a result of heuristics such as "The text content of each h1 element
should match all or part of the title content". It may (or may not) be good
practice but many such heuristics including this one are not mandated in any
W3C specification.

Steve



-----Original Message-----
From: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED =
[mailto: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = ] On Behalf Of Dean Hamack
Sent: 15 June 2009 18:40
To: WebAIM Discussion List
Subject: Re: [WebAIM] page should contain no more than two h1 elements

I never use more than one h1.

The h1 tag is supposed to be the most important tag on the page, and it
should describe what the rest of the content is about. In most cases, this
is the page title, like "Contact Information"

Then under that h1 you might have additional sub-headings like "E-Mail
Directory", or "Customer Service".

I can't think of any situation that would require more than one h1.


On 6/15/09 10:33 AM, "M Akram Danish" < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = > wrote:

> can anyone explain this
>
> The page should contain no more than two h1 elements.Warn: 18 h1
> elements were found.
> The text content of each h1 element should match all or part of the
> title
> content.Warn: 18 h1 elements do not meet the criteria.
> h1 is level 1 heading if we have sub heading then we will use h2 but
> if we have many main heading then what should we do if we cannot use
> more than 2 h1?

From: Simius Puer
Date: Mon, Jun 15 2009 12:00PM
Subject: Re: page should contain no more than two h1 elements
← Previous message | Next message →

Yes, that's simple document hierarchy and there should never be more than 1
H1 on a page. Is it supposed to be the title for that resource, just like
the title of a book or a movie....and you don't see books with 2 names!

The answer to the original question is quite simple...don't. Set H1 for the
name of the resource, H2 for sub headings (or chapters), then H3 for
sub-headings/topics withing those....HTML does have 6 levels and that is
more than enough for most documents.

Not sure if I would trust testing software that allowed 2 H1s!

From: J. B-Vincent
Date: Mon, Jun 15 2009 12:05PM
Subject: Re: page should contain no more than two h1 elements
← Previous message | Next message →

I agree with Andrew and Dean--and if you look at the results of the WebAIM survey, you'll see that more than 3/4 of screen users rely on heading markup to intuit information about page hierarchy. This reliance increases to 90% for proficient screen reader users.

--- On Mon, 6/15/09, Simius Puer < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = > wrote:


From: Simius Puer < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = >
Subject: Re: [WebAIM] page should contain no more than two h1 elements
To: "WebAIM Discussion List" < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = >
Date: Monday, June 15, 2009, 10:52 AM


Yes, that's simple document hierarchy and there should never be more than 1
H1 on a page.  Is it supposed to be the title for that resource, just like
the title of a book or a movie....and you don't see books with 2 names!

The answer to the original question is quite simple...don't.  Set H1 for the
name of the resource, H2 for sub headings (or chapters), then H3 for
sub-headings/topics withing those....HTML does have 6 levels and that is
more than enough for most documents.

Not sure if I would trust testing software that allowed 2 H1s!

From: Karl Groves
Date: Mon, Jun 15 2009 12:10PM
Subject: Re: page should contain no more than two h1 elements
← Previous message | Next message →

>
> Yes, that's simple document hierarchy and there should never be more
> than 1
> H1 on a page. Is it supposed to be the title for that resource, just
> like
> the title of a book or a movie....and you don't see books with 2 names!
>
> The answer to the original question is quite simple...don't. Set H1
> for the
> name of the resource, H2 for sub headings (or chapters), then H3 for
> sub-headings/topics withing those....HTML does have 6 levels and that
> is
> more than enough for most documents.
>
>Not sure if I would trust testing software that allowed 2 H1s!
>


Just playing Diablo Advocatus a bit here, but I'm unaware of any
information - normative or informative - in any accessibility guidelines,
be it Section 508, WCAG 1.0 or WCAG 2.0 which dictates the use of one and
only one H1 element. In fact, the only information presented specific to
the elements H1-H6 discusses it informatively and the guidelines say two
things: 1) Developers shouldn't skip levels (i.e. no H1 to H3) and, 2)
Developers shouldn't use headings to create font effects.

This begs the question: What is the actual harm done to end users if
multiple H1s are presented in a document? (Barring, of course, the misuse
of them because they're out of order).


Karl

From: Simius Puer
Date: Mon, Jun 15 2009 12:15PM
Subject: Re: page should contain no more than two h1 elements
← Previous message | Next message →

Very true, there is nothing in the core HTML specification (or even XHTML
Strict) that says not to do this, but there is a world of difference between
code that validates and that is semantically correct.

I am only guessing here but the original question was probably in response
to the results of an automated accessibility test (especially given that the
WebAIM mailing list is about accessibility). As such *there is an answer* -
semantic markup is required and whilst it might not be a major upset to
those with assistive technologies I am sure that it doesn't help to abuse
mark-up.

In addition to accessibility (the point of this mailing list) there are also
some black-hat SEO techniques use multiple h1 tags to try to promote their
content in search engines. This technique is known and does not receive any
additional weighting in Google, indeed there is specualtion that it may even
reduecontent weighting as it does not follow good guidelines.

So sorry, whilst it might not be against the W3C HTML spec it is against
best practice.

From: Dean Hamack
Date: Mon, Jun 15 2009 12:20PM
Subject: Re: page should contain no more than two h1 elements
← Previous message | Next message →

I don't think it "harms" the end user or adversely affects accessibility to
use more than one h1. It will however hurt your Google rankings, and it's a
violation of semantics/best practices.


On 6/15/09 10:52 AM, "Karl Groves" < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = > wrote:

> Just playing Diablo Advocatus a bit here, but I'm unaware of any
> information - normative or informative - in any accessibility guidelines,
> be it Section 508, WCAG 1.0 or WCAG 2.0 which dictates the use of one and
> only one H1 element. In fact, the only information presented specific to
> the elements H1-H6 discusses it informatively and the guidelines say two
> things: 1) Developers shouldn't skip levels (i.e. no H1 to H3) and, 2)
> Developers shouldn't use headings to create font effects.
>
> This begs the question: What is the actual harm done to end users if
> multiple H1s are presented in a document? (Barring, of course, the misuse
> of them because they're out of order).

From: Steve Green
Date: Mon, Jun 15 2009 12:25PM
Subject: Re: page should contain no more than two h1 elements
← Previous message | Next message →

This discussion illustrates that there is not a consensus regarding whether
having a single h1 is 'best practice'. I certainly don't agree that it is.

For instance where do you put content such as the page header and footer,
navigation and other common elements? They clearly don't belong under the h1
that contains your content. Unfortunately the current (X)HTML specifications
do not provide a means to mark up those types of content appropriately.

Also there is nothing anywhere that says a page has to be about a single
topic. Often it will be but not always.

Steve



-----Original Message-----
From: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED =
[mailto: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = ] On Behalf Of Simius Puer
Sent: 15 June 2009 19:12
To: WebAIM Discussion List
Subject: Re: [WebAIM] page should contain no more than two h1 elements

Very true, there is nothing in the core HTML specification (or even XHTML
Strict) that says not to do this, but there is a world of difference between
code that validates and that is semantically correct.

I am only guessing here but the original question was probably in response
to the results of an automated accessibility test (especially given that the
WebAIM mailing list is about accessibility). As such *there is an answer* -
semantic markup is required and whilst it might not be a major upset to
those with assistive technologies I am sure that it doesn't help to abuse
mark-up.

In addition to accessibility (the point of this mailing list) there are also
some black-hat SEO techniques use multiple h1 tags to try to promote their
content in search engines. This technique is known and does not receive any
additional weighting in Google, indeed there is specualtion that it may even
reduecontent weighting as it does not follow good guidelines.

So sorry, whilst it might not be against the W3C HTML spec it is against
best practice.

From: Karl Groves
Date: Mon, Jun 15 2009 12:30PM
Subject: Re: page should contain no more than two h1 elements
← Previous message | Next message →

> I don't think it "harms" the end user or adversely affects
> accessibility to
> use more than one h1.


Neither do I, frankly. Less-than-ideal form? Probably, but that depends
on the structure of the document, really, and it is perfectly valid and
appropriate to use multiple H1s so long as the document's structure
warrants it, IMO.



> It will however hurt your Google rankings,

Direct from Matt Cutts:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIn5qJKU8VM

Anytime you have an SEO question, always go to Matt Cutts. Anytime someone
makes a claim about SEO, go to Matt Cutts. ;-)


and
> it's a
> violation of semantics/best practices.

Do you have a source for this claim?


Again, I'm only playing Diablo Advocatus. However, we should avoid making
proclamations which don't have much basis in hard data or, barring that,
LOADS of anecdotal evidence from the impacted population(s).


Karl




>
>
> On 6/15/09 10:52 AM, "Karl Groves" < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = >
> wrote:
>
> > Just playing Diablo Advocatus a bit here, but I'm unaware of any
> > information - normative or informative - in any accessibility
> guidelines,
> > be it Section 508, WCAG 1.0 or WCAG 2.0 which dictates the use of one
> and
> > only one H1 element. In fact, the only information presented
> specific to
> > the elements H1-H6 discusses it informatively and the guidelines say
> two
> > things: 1) Developers shouldn't skip levels (i.e. no H1 to H3) and,
> 2)
> > Developers shouldn't use headings to create font effects.
> >
> > This begs the question: What is the actual harm done to end users if
> > multiple H1s are presented in a document? (Barring, of course, the
> misuse
> > of them because they're out of order).
>
>
>

From: Jared Smith
Date: Mon, Jun 15 2009 12:35PM
Subject: Re: page should contain no more than two h1 elements
← Previous message | Next message →

On Mon, Jun 15, 2009 at 11:52 AM, Karl Groves wrote:

> This begs the question: What is the actual harm done to end users if
> multiple H1s are presented in a document?  (Barring, of course, the misuse
> of them because they're out of order).

If it's fairly typical for pages to have one h1, a screen reader or
keyboard user could employ the technique of pressing the 1 key to
navigate to the first h1 on the page to determine what the page is
about. If there is more than one h1 (or arguably, if the site title or
logo is the first h1), this technique doesn't work very well. It's
quite possible that the user could then begin searching for h2's and
thus entirely miss the actual main content title.

For these reasons, and others, I think it's best to have one h1 per
page and that the main document title be that h1, even if this means
that the h1 is not the first heading within the web page. Does this
mean that the page is "inaccessible" if it doesn't do this? Absolutely
not, but I do think that this is the optimal structure for keyboard
accessibility and for document semantics.

If a document truly has more than one document title, then certainly
more than one h1 makes sense. This is rare though - perhaps a document
that contains both an English and Spanish version of the content with
h1's designating each section, for example.

Jared

From: S.R. Emerson, Accrete Web Solutions
Date: Mon, Jun 15 2009 12:40PM
Subject: Re: page should contain no more than two h1 elements
← Previous message | Next message →

Heading Hierarchy http://www.webpagemistakes.ca/heading-hierarchy/
Heading Structure
http://www.webpagemistakes.ca/heading-structure-heading-tag/

S. Emerson
Accrete Web Solutions
http://www.accretewebsolutions.ca

From: Karl Groves
Date: Mon, Jun 15 2009 12:45PM
Subject: Re: page should contain no more than two h1 elements
← Previous message | Next message →

> On Mon, Jun 15, 2009 at 11:52 AM, Karl Groves wrote:
>
> > This begs the question: What is the actual harm done to end users if
> > multiple H1s are presented in a document?  (Barring, of course, the
> misuse
> > of them because they're out of order).
>
> If it's fairly typical for pages to have one h1, a screen reader or
> keyboard user could employ the technique of pressing the 1 key to
> navigate to the first h1 on the page to determine what the page is
> about. If there is more than one h1 (or arguably, if the site title or
> logo is the first h1), this technique doesn't work very well. It's
> quite possible that the user could then begin searching for h2's and
> thus entirely miss the actual main content title.

I think this is a valid argument against multiple H1s, but it also makes
an assumption about how people navigate headings that I don't think is
clearly quantified by the available data
(http://www.webaim.org/projects/screenreadersurvey/#headings). Would make
for a pretty good question for a follow-up study though (or some in-lab
usability studies).

Karl

From: Dean Hamack
Date: Mon, Jun 15 2009 12:50PM
Subject: Re: page should contain no more than two h1 elements
← Previous message | Next message →

Responses inline

On 6/15/09 11:12 AM, "Karl Groves" < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = > wrote:

> Direct from Matt Cutts:
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIn5qJKU8VM

OK, in that video he basically said "two is fine, eight is too many". And
the question he didn't answer was "will someone with only one h1 get a
higher ranking than someone with 2".

When I worked for one of the big three social networking websites, we had
someone who's sole job was to look at stuff like search engine algorithms.
She said emphatically that you should use only one h1.

> Do you have a source for this claim?

Sure. Here's one right here:

http://www.webaim.org/techniques/semanticstructure/

From: Karl Groves
Date: Mon, Jun 15 2009 12:55PM
Subject: Re: page should contain no more than two h1 elements
← Previous message | Next message →

< I think this is a valid argument against multiple H1s, but it also
> makes
> an assumption about how people navigate headings that I don't think is
> clearly quantified by the available data
> (http://www.webaim.org/projects/screenreadersurvey/#headings). Would
> make
> for a pretty good question for a follow-up study though (or some in-lab
> usability studies).

Just to be clear (because re-reading it, I could see it being mis-read),
my point was that, while the WebAIM survey clearly showed the usefulness
of using headings, what wasn't shown was how people accessed those
headings. Would be interesting to know. My own observation shows it to be
exactly as Jared described, but I also recognize that the screenreader
users I know are all power users. I'm not sure how they compare to
"normal" users.


Karl

From: John Foliot
Date: Mon, Jun 15 2009 1:15PM
Subject: Re: page should contain no more than two h1 elements
← Previous message | Next message →

M Akram Danish wrote:
>
> can anyone explain this:
>
> The page should contain no more than two h1 elements.Warn: 18 h1
elements
> were found.
> The text content of each h1 element should match all or part of the
title
> content.Warn: 18 h1 elements do not meet the criteria.


Explanation: This appears to be generated by the Firefox Accessibility
Toolbar (or perhaps the companion Functional Accessibility Evaluator -
http://fae.cita.uiuc.edu), both created by the Illinois Center for
Information Technology and Web Accessibility
(http://firefox.cita.uiuc.edu/) It is an excellent evaluator tool, and one
that I use often. However, the 'warings' noted by the tool are somewhat
subjective, and they represent the opinion of the toolbar creators.
Originally, multiple H1s were flagged as 'failures', and/but after some
debate, Jon Gunderson and his developer team modified this to be a warning
instead of an outright failure (as well as the requirement that *all*
navigation lists should include a <h> heading as well - again this is now
a warn rather than a fail). Mr. Gunderson and his team have also spent
considerable effort in developing a Best Practices Guide
(http://html.cita.uiuc.edu) which elaborates on their justifications for
the warning(s). In general it is well thought out and a useful document
for all web developers to be aware of - although it is specific in its
title: "iCITA HTML Web Accessibility Best Practices" and that they further
state:

"Illinois Information Technology Accessibility Act (IITAA) web
requirements is a hybrid of the Section 508 and W3C Web Content
Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) requirements designed to help state web
masters improve the functional accessibility of their web resources. The
Illinois Functional Accessibility Evaluator and Firefox Accessibility
Extension are free tools to help web developers evaluate their web
resources for use of the best practices. These tools have been recently
updated based changes to the iCITA HTML Best Practices".

As others have pointed out, these warnings are subjective calls on behalf
of the evaluator: Jared noted at least one instance where multiple <h1>s
might co-exist on the same page, and if you stop and think about it, there
may in fact be others... the point is each circumstance is unique and so
blanket calls on evaluations such as these can only be warnings at best -
the tool notes that a condition exists, and then a human brain needs to
evaluate further for a final recommendation.

There have been some bold claims made in this thread, and when making a
claim, I would ask that you back up your assertion with evidence. I would
also note that while instructive web-sites (especially in the area of web
accessibility) are often useful, sometimes their guidance is often
informed by the opinion of their authors, and one needs to be very
critical of claims made based upon lesser known resources: I take W3C
guidance as being significantly more definitive than
www.webpagemistakes.ca (with no offense intended to the author of that
site). As Karl (for one) points out, there is nothing in the current HTML
/ XHTML specification, nor in WCAG 1, WCAG 2, Section 508, etc. that
specifically states that you cannot have multiple <h1>s on a page - there
is some anecdotal evidence that over-gaming <h1>s might get you penalized
with search engines, but I would counter with the notion that if a page
*truly* requires more than one <h1> that it will have a zero-sum effect on
the site's overall SEO.

JF
============================
John  Foliot
Program Manager
Stanford Online Accessibility Program
http://soap.stanford.edu
Stanford University
Tel: 650-862-4603

SOAP is a program directed by the
Vice Provost for Student Affairs
============================

From: Jared Smith
Date: Mon, Jun 15 2009 1:20PM
Subject: Re: page should contain no more than two h1 elements
← Previous message | Next message →

On Mon, Jun 15, 2009 at 12:33 PM, Karl Groves wrote:

> My own observation shows it to be
> exactly as Jared described, but I also recognize that the screenreader
> users I know are all power users. I'm not sure how they compare to
> "normal" users.

My observations are similar. So let's go ahead and call it best
practice and be done with this controversy forever, eh?

The point here is that "best practice" is very subjective and open to
interpretation, particularly in web accessibility. I've found that
most in the accessibility field seem to agree that one h1 that is the
document title makes the most sense for most typical web pages. But
there are also some that extend this to mean that h1 must be first or
that h1 must be the exact same as the <title>. Where does "best
practice" end and extremism begin?

On the other hand, let's not let published guidelines or
specifications alone drive accessibility techniques. Neither HTML nor
WCAG prohibit empty headings (headings that contain no text), yet
these clearly introduce accessibility issues for screen reader users
navigating by headings.

It's quite difficult to scientifically test these types of things, and
even if you could, I think you'd find the same general findings that
WebAIM's survey found - that screen reader users are very diverse and
do things a lot of different ways. But this is the type of thing that
we will be delving deeper into in a future survey.

Jared

PS - What a great discussion!

From: Dean Hamack
Date: Mon, Jun 15 2009 1:35PM
Subject: Re: page should contain no more than two h1 elements
← Previous message | Next message →

On 6/15/09 12:06 PM, "John Foliot" < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = > wrote:

> There have been some bold claims made in this thread, and when making a
> claim, I would ask that you back up your assertion with evidence.

SEO articles that say you should only use one H1:

http://www.netmechanic.com/news/vol7/promo_no3.htm

http://www.digital-web.com/articles/seo_and_your_web_site/

http://www.gatewaygenerator.com/seo/index.htm

http://bulbwired.com/?p=208

And that's just a few I found in a quick Google search. How many would you
like John :)

Look, the bottom line is that most of this stuff is anecdotal and not based
on hard facts.

But pretty much all of the evidence suggests that having more than one H1
(except in special circumstances) *might* be bad for accessibility and SEO.
If there's no benefit to be gained from it, why take the risk?

From: Al Sparber
Date: Mon, Jun 15 2009 2:10PM
Subject: Re: page should contain no more than two h1 elements
← Previous message | Next message →

From: "Dean Hamack" < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = >

> On 6/15/09 12:06 PM, "John Foliot" < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = > wrote:
>
>> There have been some bold claims made in this thread, and when making a
>> claim, I would ask that you back up your assertion with evidence.
>
> SEO articles that say you should only use one H1:
>
> http://www.netmechanic.com/news/vol7/promo_no3.htm
>
> http://www.digital-web.com/articles/seo_and_your_web_site/
>
> http://www.gatewaygenerator.com/seo/index.htm
>
> http://bulbwired.com/?p=208
>
> And that's just a few I found in a quick Google search. How many would you
> like John :)
>
> Look, the bottom line is that most of this stuff is anecdotal and not
> based
> on hard facts.
>
> But pretty much all of the evidence suggests that having more than one H1
> (except in special circumstances) *might* be bad for accessibility and
> SEO.
> If there's no benefit to be gained from it, why take the risk?

Evidence that multiple H1 tags impact accessibility or SEO obviously must
carry weight, of course. As for logic, that's another story. It's sort of
like allowing SEO or accessibility experts to rewrite traditional methods of
writing a story. One has to weigh the opinions and decide for himself. From
an author's point of view, multiple same-level headings are fairly natural -
especially if you are using a technology that automatically generates a
structured table of contents. So is it OK to have one H1 and then multiple
H2 or H3 tags?

It is a ridiculous concept that would seem to hamstring the practice of
writing. Maybe that explains the death of classic literature ;-)

--
Al Sparber - PVII
http://www.projectseven.com

From: Karl Groves
Date: Mon, Jun 15 2009 2:15PM
Subject: Re: page should contain no more than two h1 elements
← Previous message | Next message →

> > My own observation shows it to be
> > exactly as Jared described, but I also recognize that the
> screenreader
> > users I know are all power users. I'm not sure how they compare to
> > "normal" users.
>
> My observations are similar. So let's go ahead and call it best
> practice and be done with this controversy forever, eh?

Oh, I don't look at it as a "controversy", just a healthy discussion

>
> The point here is that "best practice" is very subjective and open to
> interpretation, particularly in web accessibility. I've found that
> most in the accessibility field seem to agree that one h1 that is the
> document title makes the most sense for most typical web pages. But
> there are also some that extend this to mean that h1 must be first or
> that h1 must be the exact same as the <title>. Where does "best
> practice" end and extremism begin?

IMO, a best practice becomes a dogma whenever it is viewed as the only
possible approach to an issue - such as those we've seen by other replies
in this thread. A quick glance at the SSB site or any of my own personal
sites shows where I sit on this issue: One H1 element on each page. That
doesn't mean, however, that this is the only appropriate approach.


>
> It's quite difficult to scientifically test these types of things, and
> even if you could, I think you'd find the same general findings that
> WebAIM's survey found - that screen reader users are very diverse and
> do things a lot of different ways. But this is the type of thing that
> we will be delving deeper into in a future survey.

I think it is great that you guys did that survey and hope you continue
with similar efforts. If you need any assistance translating it into
other languages (or anything else, for that matter), let me know.

Another thing that's sorely missing in this area is usability studies. As
far as I'm aware, the overwhelming majority of usability studies of
assistive technology users that exist are qualitative in nature and more
than likely going to be performed for a client (read as: not for public
consumption). Ginny Redish and Mary Theofanos did a few usability
studies that were published. Everything else that I'm aware of is
private. I've said for years that it would be great to collect real,
quantitative data on topics like this. The level of effort required might
be a bit prohibitive, though.



> PS - What a great discussion!

I agree!


Karl

From: Dean Hamack
Date: Mon, Jun 15 2009 2:20PM
Subject: Re: page should contain no more than two h1 elements
← Previous message | Next message →

Responses inline.

On 6/15/09 12:48 PM, "Al Sparber" < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = > wrote:

> Evidence that multiple H1 tags impact accessibility or SEO obviously must
> carry weight, of course.

Agreed. And I would hope that when a multi-billion dollar website like the
aforementioned one I worked for hires an SEO expert, that their instructions
are based on something more than mere opinion.

> So is it OK to have one H1 and then multiple
> H2 or H3 tags?

Absolutely.

> It is a ridiculous concept that would seem to hamstring the practice of
> writing.

I totally disagree.

Somewhere along the line, developers started putting style before substance,
and they forgot that websites are pretty much just online versions of books
and brochures. With that in mind, pick up any non-fiction book you have
lying around and open up a chapter. Notice how the title of the chapter is
in big bold letters? Consider that the equivalent of your H1 tag. Now flip
through the rest of the chapter. You will likely find multiple instances of
other headings which are also big and bold, but not as bold as the first
one. Consider those the equivalent of your H2s.

I once went to a job interview and the guy said to me, "the first thing I do
when I look at a person's portfolio is disable styles on the page. If it
reads like a book, and all of the content makes sense based on order and
size, I know they've done it right. Your work passes that test, and that's
why you're sitting here".

From: Al Sparber
Date: Mon, Jun 15 2009 2:25PM
Subject: Re: page should contain no more than two h1 elements
← Previous message | Next message →

From: "Dean Hamack" < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = >

> Responses inline.
>
> On 6/15/09 12:48 PM, "Al Sparber" < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = > wrote:
>
>> Evidence that multiple H1 tags impact accessibility or SEO obviously must
>> carry weight, of course.
>
> Agreed. And I would hope that when a multi-billion dollar website like the
> aforementioned one I worked for hires an SEO expert, that their
> instructions
> are based on something more than mere opinion.
>
>> So is it OK to have one H1 and then multiple
>> H2 or H3 tags?
>
> Absolutely.
>
>> It is a ridiculous concept that would seem to hamstring the practice of
>> writing.
>
> I totally disagree.

Poor clarity on my part. I meant "ridiculous" in terms of H2 tags (and
lower) also being restricted to single instances. I've published a book,
actually, and certainly agree with your chapter metaphor.

--
Al Sparber - PVII
http://www.projectseven.com

From: Dean Hamack
Date: Mon, Jun 15 2009 2:55PM
Subject: Re: page should contain no more than two h1 elements
← Previous message | Next message →

Ah, I gotcha. Sorry for misreading you.


On 6/15/09 1:23 PM, "Al Sparber" < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = > wrote:

> Poor clarity on my part. I meant "ridiculous" in terms of H2 tags (and
> lower) also being restricted to single instances. I've published a book,
> actually, and certainly agree with your chapter metaphor.

From: Rakesh Chowdary Paladugula
Date: Mon, Jun 15 2009 10:30PM
Subject: Re: page should contain no more than two h1 elements
← Previous message | Next message →

Yes, Most of the screen reader users depend on HTML headings in
searching information on the webpage. The hierarchy from H1 to H6 adds
more clearity to their search. So it is better to have only one H1
but it doesn't matter how many h2's and h3's .....h6's you use.

--
Thanks & regards
Rakesh
Iridium Interactive Limited
Changing a face doesn't change anything, facing a change changes everything.

From: Korpela Jukka
Date: Tue, Jun 16 2009 12:35AM
Subject: Re: page should contain no more than two h1 elements
← Previous message | Next message →

>> The page should contain no more than two h1 elements.Warn: 18 h1
> elements
>> were found.
>> The text content of each h1 element should match all or part of the
> title
>> content.Warn: 18 h1 elements do not meet the criteria.
>
> Explanation: This appears to be generated by the Firefox Accessibility
> Toolbar

Thanks, I think this greatly helps us to evaluate that evaluator.

> It is an excellent evaluator tool, and one
> that I use often.

Its other features must then be superb, to compensate for the absurd
warning that has misled people so much (at least many people who have
participated in this discussion).

> However, the 'warings' noted by the tool are somewhat
> subjective, and they represent the opinion of the toolbar creators.

Being subjective is one thing, being absurd is another thing.

In the past, there have been many discussions on whether a document should
have exactly one (or at most one) h1 element. The expert consensus has
been that normally a document should have one first-level heading, but
there are exceptions, such as a bi- or multilingual edition of a document.
(It is almost always best to present each language version as a separate
document, but that's a different issue, and there are exceptions to that
as well, such as scientific purposes and some documents for bilingual
audiences.)

So it would be OK to say that a document should normally have just one h1
element, please check whether this is a justified exception.

But the warning
a) does not refer to any exceptions
b) makes the upper limit arbitrarily _two_ and not one
c) does not seem to refer to any reasons or arguments
d) requires that h1 element content should "match" all or part of title
element content; there is no ground for this justification - the content
might be the same, or somewhat different, or completely different, as long
as both elements serve their purposes.
(For example, the title element content should be understandable even
without any context. There is no such requirement for h1.)

> Originally, multiple H1s were flagged as 'failures',

Oh my.

--
Yucca

From: M Akram Danish
Date: Tue, Jun 16 2009 4:45AM
Subject: Re: page should contain no more than two h1 elements
← Previous message | Next message →

Why I should need to repeat <title> in <h1>, every page has it own title that explain what one should expect in the page. and as far as I know screen reader read <title> first then having same text in <h1> not seems necessary but repeating. 

i checked w3.org site and they use image in <h1>
<h1 id="logo"><img alt="The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)" height="48" width="315" src="/Icons/w3c_main" /></h1>
 it seems it is just to fulfill the requirement that there should not be more than 2 <h1>. and as far as I know we cannot use <h2> before having <h1>.

besides using image in <h1> is new to me I thought we use only text in heading.

Akram

From: Jared Smith
Date: Tue, Jun 16 2009 8:35AM
Subject: Re: page should contain no more than two h1 elements
← Previous message | Next message →

On Tue, Jun 16, 2009 at 4:44 AM, M Akram Danish wrote:
>
> Why I should need to repeat <title> in <h1>, every page has
> it own title that explain what one should expect in the page.

There certainly is no rule that the h1 be the same or part of the page
title. However, both the title and the h1 should typically inform the
user of what the page is, so it's possible and likely that there will
naturally be some redundancy. Don't worry about this. Forcing h1 and
title to be different to avoid redundancy is a bad idea.

> i checked w3.org site and they use image in <h1>
> <h1 id="logo"><img alt="The World Wide Web Consortium
> (W3C)" height="48" width="315" src="/Icons/w3c_main" /></h1>
>  it seems it is just to fulfill the requirement that there should not
> be more than 2 <h1>. and as far as I know we cannot use <h2>
> before having <h1>.

If you check any page other than the home page, you'll see that the
W3C site does have h2's before the h1. There's no rule that you can't
do this, though there are some that believe this to be wrong due to a
very strict interpretation of the rule that you can't skip heading
levels. I, and I think most people, disagree with this interpretation.
See http://h1debate.com/ for loads of comments and votes on this
issue.

Interestingly, the new W3C web site has two h1's on each content page
(http://beta.w3.org/standards/webdesign/accessibility, for example). I
would not interpret this to be "the way" to do things. Between the two
W3C sites, they do all three of the possible implementations we've
discussed in this thread. Perhaps it's their unique way of not
providing an answer or best practice?

By the way, it doesn't really matter that much what you do hear.
Neither approach results in inaccessibility. But I think it should be
relatively clear from the posts here that there might be a slightly
more optimal approach to facilitate page navigation.

> besides using image in <h1> is new to me I thought we use only text in heading.

An image with appropriate alt text *is* text. This is perfectly acceptable.

Jared

From: Sharron Rush
Date: Tue, Jun 16 2009 9:50AM
Subject: Re: page should contain no more than two h1 elements
← Previous message | Next message →

Good discussion on this topic and thanks to Jared for the reminder
that none of the practices described would result in inaccessible
content. I only wanted to add another side to the claim that
"Heading hierarchy works the same way on the web as it does in
print." In practice, that is not really the case, is it?

The fact is that information architecture on the web is deliberately
quite different than the linear presentation in a book with chapters,
subchapters, etc. That is one of the fundamental values of the web -
the ability to present linked data and information that users can
follow as needed or as interest dictates.

I agree that 18 h1s on a page could be quite confusing and would urge
those that want to practice usable accessibility to avoid such a
conflation. As Jim Thatcher says "When everything is a heading,
nothing is." But usually the most usable and accessible solution is
one that emerges from common sense when you give it some thought.

Heading markup is meant to programmatically describe the structure of
the page. Use h1s for highest level, major topic areas within the
page, and most often - but not always - there will be only one. Use
descending hx levels for subsections within the designated h1s.

My two cents,
Sharron


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sharron Rush | Executive Director | www.Knowbility.org | 512 305-0310
Equal access to technology for people with disabilities

From: Dean Hamack
Date: Tue, Jun 16 2009 11:40AM
Subject: Re: page should contain no more than two h1 elements
← Previous message | Next message →

On 6/16/09 3:44 AM, "M Akram Danish" < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = > wrote:

> i checked w3.org site and they use image in <h1>
> <h1 id="logo"><img alt="The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)" height="48"
> width="315" src="/Icons/w3c_main" /></h1>
>  it seems it is just to fulfill the requirement that there should not be more
> than 2 <h1>. and as far as I know we cannot use <h2> before having <h1>.

Rather than rewrite why I believe this practice is a bad idea, I will refer
you to a blog post I wrote which covers it. It's under the "SEO
Optimization" heading:

http://www.bushidodesigns.net/blog/semantic-accessible-seo-friendly-wordpres
s-theme/

From: John Foliot
Date: Tue, Jun 16 2009 12:15PM
Subject: Re: page should contain no more than two h1 elements
← Previous message | Next message →

Korpela Jukka wrote:
> >
> > Explanation: This appears to be generated by the Firefox Accessibility
> > Toolbar
>
> Thanks, I think this greatly helps us to evaluate that evaluator.
>
> > It is an excellent evaluator tool, and one
> > that I use often.
>
> Its other features must then be superb, to compensate for the absurd
> warning that has misled people so much (at least many people who have
> participated in this discussion).

Hello Jukka, long time no hear...

Yes, actually, it is a very useful toolbar as part of the overall "kit"
that I use. Yes, some of the 'warnings' are unusual, and I had at one
time a very spirited discussion with Jon Gunderson regarding some of the
warnings and failures being reported, but on balance, the functionality it
puts in my hands to both evaluate and also demonstrate (in the teaching
mode) some key concepts out-weigh the 'controversy' of some of the reports
- which I take with a serious grain of salt based upon my 10+ years doing
this stuff.

Features: the toolbar allows me to replicate the inter-page navigation
methods that screen-readers use to navigate: I can visually pull up a list
of links (allowing me to *show* link text out of context) - it also allows
for ordering these links as found in source-code order, or re-order
alphabetically (helps to quickly point out duplicate link text). It also
allows for visualizing a list of the page headings (the topic of this
thread), again in source-code order, or re-ordered by hierarchy (again
useful - and by clicking on any of those headings, it visually places a
visual border on that element in the page, again visually demonstrating
how headings are used for navigation). It also can display a list of
accesskeys (no comment - save that it can also 'disable' accesskeys), and
has a very useful ARIA Widget inspector. It has two 'built in'
alternative style sheets, and links to both W3C validators as well as WDG
- it also links directly to WAVE, FAE, Cynthia Says, and TAW. There are
also the standard image inspection functions (alt text, list of
abbreviations, disable images, etc), as well as some other keyboard
enhancement tools that I don't use. Oh, and it's free.

>
> > However, the 'warnings' noted by the tool are somewhat
> > subjective, and they represent the opinion of the toolbar creators.
>
> Being subjective is one thing, being absurd is another thing.

As web accessibility professionals who have been doing this for a very
long time, this type of guidance may indeed seem 'absurd', however, as a
general blanket statement it causes very little real harm, as it *is*
generally a best practices guidance - if nothing else it also started this
extremely useful thread where-by we've (hopefully) informed newer
practitioners of accessible web development of some key concepts that us
old guys take for granted. Given the plethora of "web accessibility
testing tools" out there, I can forgive it this small controversy.

>
> In the past, there have been many discussions on whether a document
should
> have exactly one (or at most one) h1 element. The expert consensus has
> been that normally a document should have one first-level heading, but
> there are exceptions, such as a bi- or multilingual edition of a
document.
> (It is almost always best to present each language version as a separate
> document, but that's a different issue, and there are exceptions to that
> as well, such as scientific purposes and some documents for bilingual
> audiences.)

Right, so a warning that suggest that having multiple <h1>s is just that -
a warning. It says to the content author: go, double check, is this in
fact appropriate? Is there a better way? Does it make real sense? It
effectively says "use your brain here". I personally cannot see this as
anything but positive overall.

>
> So it would be OK to say that a document should normally have just one
h1
> element, please check whether this is a justified exception.
>
> But the warning
> a) does not refer to any exceptions
> b) makes the upper limit arbitrarily _two_ and not one
> c) does not seem to refer to any reasons or arguments
> d) requires that h1 element content should "match" all or part of title
> element content; there is no ground for this justification - the content
> might be the same, or somewhat different, or completely different, as
long
> as both elements serve their purposes.
> (For example, the title element content should be understandable even
> without any context. There is no such requirement for h1.)

All good points, but more data-points that belong in a background
document, rather than a quick checklist of 'issues'. Any tool is simply
that, a tool. **LEARNING** how to use that tool is of course key, be it
this tool bar or any other tool.

JF

From: Shawn Henry
Date: Tue, Jun 16 2009 3:10PM
Subject: Re: page should contain no more than two h1 elements
← Previous message | Next message →

Jared Smith wrote:
> Interestingly, the new W3C web site has two h1's on each content page
> (http://beta.w3.org/standards/webdesign/accessibility, for example).

Just a quick note to let you know that beta.w3.org is still in development. In fact the code quoted earlier was taken in the short time a bug was introduced and not yet fixed (the empty image src=""). We do not plan on having these two <h1>s in the final version.

W3C welcomes feedback on the developing beta website. Once the current revisions are complete and it is ready for more review, we'll announce it to the WAI Interest Group (IG) mailing list <http://www.w3.org/WAI/IG/#mailinglist>;.

Regards,
~Shawn


-----
Shawn Lawton Henry
W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)
e-mail: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED =
phone: +1.617.395.7664
about: http://www.w3.org/People/Shawn/

From: M Akram Danish
Date: Tue, Jun 16 2009 11:50PM
Subject: page should contain no more than two h1 elements
← Previous message | No next message

Hi

Thank you very much it was really great to read all the discussions on this topic.
This forum is great source of understanding the things in depth with different opinions.

Akram