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Skip to Main Content Links are Important

Wheel Chair Icon: Universal Icon Symbol of AccessibilityProviding links that allow the user to skip directly to the main content, bypassing the navigation, enhances the accessibility of your web site.

This is recommended for blind or visually impaired users, people who use screen readers, and also for text-browsers, mobile phones and PDAs.

These links are common on most US, UK, Irish, and other government web sites, as well as many universities and private organizations.

From the accessibility and usability point of view, it is recommended that you make such links visible. Why?

In his article titled "Providing Skip Links", Frank Gayne of frontend.com explains:

Skip links would be useful for people who cannot easily use a mouse. Many of these people depend on tabbing in order to make progress through an interface and might appreciate a skip links feature to lighten the amount of work they have to do. If there is no visible focus to let these people know they have hit a link, then this useful feature is lost to them.

How can you build such links? Immediately after the logo of your web site, insert the skip link: "Skip to main content". Does the link have to go after the logo?

Many web sites have the "Skip to main content" links before the logo of the page, but a logo is the precursor of a web page. It lets the user know what web site he/she is on.

For example, if a screen reader user clicks an internal link on your page, your logo's alternate text attribute tells the user that he/she has not yet left your web site.

If the "Skip to main content" link is before the logo, then the user does not know immediately which web site he/she is on.

In many occasions, web site developers or their clients do not wish to have the "Skip to main content" link visible, with the excuse that it does not fit in their design.

In this case they might use a technique wrapping the text link or a transparent graphic in an HTML "div" tag setting it to "display: none" or "visibility: hidden".

The problem with this technique is that it does not always work as expected. Some screen readers do not speak material that is marked "display: none" or "visibility: hidden", and others depend on how the style is specified.

Check the Guideline 10, for Accessible and Usable Web Sites: Observing users who work with screenreaders for more valuable information about this very important issue.

After all, do your web pages have "Skip to main content" links? If not, it should be time to build them.

Notice:This article was written by John Britsios, Web Architect & Senior SEO Consultant here at Webnauts Net and SEO Workers - Expert SEO Company.

It may be reproduced on a web site, CD-ROM, e-zine, book, magazine, etc. so long permission is received from Webnauts Net and the author's name is included in full, and, if the reproduction is by electronic media, a link back to this web site is included.