Re:'s review of RNIB relaunch

On Wednesday, June 25, 2003, at 01:49 PM, Matt May wrote:
> I want to make sure that when someone collapses headers into a tree 
> (as some authoring tools do) or has them read out in header view, the 
> relationships they draw are logical. If an h4 that follows an h3 is 
> not in fact a child of that h3, I consider that bad design.

Yes, but I argue that the relative relationship is more important
than the absolute relationship.

> The numbers of the elements could be considered a hack. What (aside 
> from sane, rational analysis of the content that I have) should stop 
> me from exposing seven or more layers of hierarchy? But here, you only 
> have six.

Good point!  Another argument for <h>.

>> Ergo, the exact numbers do _not_ matter.  And an insistence
>> on <h1> as the first header (instead of <h2>) is inappropriate.
> I'd have to see "matter" defined. Does it rip a hole in space-time? 
> No. Is thoughtful use of headers something I'd consider a best 
> practice, from code quality and usability standpoints? Yes. (Are you 
> hurting yourself in search engines by not giving your best searchable 
> content [the title] the most important markup [<h1>]? Probably.)

Well, let's take for example your site, which you brought up as an
example (since you style the headings using CSS).

Take a look at:

The best searchable content on this page is, I'd argue, _not_ the
<h1>, but the one you have marked as <h2> -- the individual
title for this archived blog entry.

<h1>bestkungfu weblog</h1>
<h2>Libraries, mandates, and guys in robes</h2>

On the main page ( ), the <h1> _is_ the
most important, but in this case, no, it should be indexing the
specific content of the article as more important than the generic
name of the site.

So there's a conundrum here.  How exactly do you structure the
headings for this page if you require that the most important
content be in the <h1>?

Answer:  You can't, and you don't, because the requirement is a
red herring.  We have to be careful about such requirements, as
in truth what we need is a perceivable, navigable hierarchy.  This
page establishes that, and thus there's nothing wrong with it.

Let's not add on extra requirements for well-made pages!


Kynn Bartlett <>           
Chief Technologist, Idyll Mountain      
Author, CSS in 24 Hours             
Inland Anti-Empire Blog            
Shock & Awe Blog                 

Received on Wednesday, 25 June 2003 17:05:05 UTC