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[#246 TECH] examples of grouping links

From: <Becky_Gibson@notesdev.ibm.com>
Date: Tue, 22 Jun 2004 11:35:52 -0400
To: WAI-GL <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <OF29B18F95.8A92B12B-ON85256EBB.0049E869-85256EBB.00553F74@notesdev.ibm.com>
I searched the web for examples of web sites that do and do not group 
links effectively.   As part of grouping links I considered the use of 
skip to navigation links.   Unfortunately, I found very few sites that 
actually use skip to links, let alone use them well.  For most sites, 
links are not well grouped and if any skip to links are provided it is 
just one, the skip to main content link.  Note that in my search I tried 
to avoid the web sites of members of the working group. 

 One good example of link grouping was www.firstgov.gov.  It provides a 
skip to main content, skip to search, and a skip to for each major 
category in the left navigation bar. 
The Whitehouse site (www.whitehouse.gov) does have skip to links but they 
are not organized particularly well.  There is a skip to content and a 
skip to text version and skip to search.  Unfortunately after completing a 
search, the skip to main content on the search results page does not take 
you to the results but to a "Ask the Whitehouse" section. 

The National Park Service (www.nps.gov) has grouped the links fairly well. 
 The home page has four major topic areas.  Within each topic area are 
three links all to the same page.  The top of the site contains skip to 
navigation to each of the four topic areas and has a skip to search link.  
Once a visitor is familiar with the organization of the site, this link 
grouping could prove useful.  There are additional Park Service links in 
the middle of the page and the repeated navigation links are at the bottom 
of the page. 

Sun's Java web site (http://java.sun.com/) is one of the few non 
government web sites I found that had more than just a "skip to main 
content" link and tried to somewhat organize the links.  The Java Site has 
the search link placed early on in the page so that is found within one or 
two links of the top of the page.  It has a skip masthead links and a skip 
to main content link.  Unfortunately, if you skip the masthead links you 
also miss the skip to main content link and you miss the search box.  The 
site has a mast head at the top,  some navigation directly below the 
masthead, then three colunm;,  left navigation,  main content and 
additional links in the right hand column.   Not a stellar example but an 
attempt at some organization although there is no easy way to navigate 
between the groupings. 

MSNBC (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/) has a particularly bad organization as 
all of the menus are created using DHTML with mouse over techniques.  The 
MSNBC.com home page has 200+ links. There are no skip to links.  A 
keyboard or screen reader user must first navigation though a real media 
advertisement and top navigation links before reaching the "content" 
navigation bar.  This  content navigation is a DHTML left navigation bar. 
The left navigation bar lists the main categories of the site.  When a 
user mouses over a category, a sub menu pops up where the user can click 
on items.  For a keyboard or screen reader user, the initial category must 
be selected and the page then reloads with the sub menu expanded in place 
- after first stopping at an interim page to display an advertisement. The 
interim page does have a "go directly to..." link. 

Note that it is easy for find sites that have no navigation or grouping of 
links - MSNBC is just one example of many.  Most commercial sites do not 
group links at all and there are often hundreds of links on the home page.


Becky Gibson
Web Accessibility Architect
IBM Emerging Internet Technologies
5 Technology Park Drive
Westford, MA 01886
Voice: 978 399-6101; t/l 333-6101
Email: gibsonb@us.ibm.com
Received on Tuesday, 22 June 2004 11:33:12 UTC

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