Accessibility Tip of the Week

Be purposeful about your content.

  • Summary: Ensure your content clearly presents its purpose.
  • Who it helps: People with cognitive disabilities, who have less experience on the internet and who are tired or distracted.
  • Additional benefits: Having a clear purpose improves everyone's experience.

Navigating content on the web can be a challenge. Websites have very different designs, layouts and content. Even if a website or document has only a few pages, it can still be difficult for a reader to orient themselves in it. If a person is distracted and then returns to the page, they may not remember what they were doing. If your audience gets confused or lost in your content, they are less likely to stay on your site.

Clearly labeling content in a way that tells what the purpose is, helps your audience know they are in the right place. It also instructs them what to do next, even if they are distracted for a moment.

What can I do?

How can you communicate with a clear purpose? Follow these recommendations.

  • Use a descriptive heading, title, or short statement at the top of the page explains what the page is about and makes its purpose clear.
  • Add a summary or abstract to make the purpose clear for longer pages of content.
  • Add progress or step indicators to multistep processes, to help people know their current step in a task, what came before and what comes next.
  • Consider additional wayfinding cues, such as breadcrumbs or current page indicators on your website. These help people understand how they got to the page and how the page fits within the overall hierarchy.
  • In longer documents, use a table of contents, section numbers, headers, footers to help people orient.

Without cues like these, it can be easy for people to lose track of where they are. If you need some additional cues or information, learn more about purpose at ta11y.org .

This work is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0    .

If you are promoting accessibility within your organization or community, sending out easy-to-understand tips can be a helpful addition to your strategy. You are welcome to share the tips here under the mentioned Creative Commons license, as long as you cite Accessible Community as your source.