Skip to search Skip to main content

Does the <body> rule the mind or does the mind rule the <body>?

Accessible Content – Part 1: unique and informative Page Titles

Can you squeeze me
Into an empty page of your diary?

Morrissey, “Hairdresser on Fire”

Let’s start where it all begins: the page title! That’s at least, where all websites “begin”. Page titles, for example, always appear first in search results and already make it possible to distinguish them from other search hits.

Page titles are also needed to create links to this specific page maybe in a Content Management System or your WordPress blog. A clear short description is important here as well, in order to grasp immediately, what the site is about.

It is the first information that a screen reader software conveys to its listeners. And of course the first information that is shown to the user in the browser’s tab to more easily distinguish the page contents opened.

Therefore it should always describe the page briefly and at the same time make it distinguishable from other pages. At best, the page title is always the first heading on the page itself.

Bad Practice

  • Leaving the title blank. This results in most browsers showing the current URL (web address) of the page. Some search engines show “untitled” here.
  • Leaving out basic information, e.g. a companies name on the starting page and solely call it “homepage” instead. If you hear the title in the screen reader, you might not know where you landed.
What happens, if you leave out the title
Deleting the title content on google.com's homepage in the Firefox dev tools. The browser is showing the URL in the browser tab then.

Best Practice

  • Basically: Prefix the most important information.
  • Page title before organization name.
  • For pages that consist of several steps or pages, these steps should be mentioned in the title.
  • If error messages appear in forms, they should also be reproduced in the title.
The gov.uk homepage showing "Welcome to GOV.UK!"
The gov.uk homepage.
Subsite on gov.uk with the title "Find a job - GOV.UK"
The page "Find a Job" at gov.uk.
Searching for "job" on gov.uk. Page 2 of the search results show the title "job - Page 2 - GOV.UK"
Searching for "job" at gov.uk.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *