Mark Pilgrim on titling for accessibility

On day 8 of his accessibility campaign , Mark Pilgrim echoes one of my perennial themes: titling web pages. He writes:

Date-based archive pages should include the name of your weblog, followed by the date (or date range) for the page. For example, I have daily archives whose titles look like " dive into mark/June 19, 2002 ", and monthly archives like " dive into mark/June 2002 ". [ diveintomark]

As I mentioned in a column called The Google API is a Two-Way Street , it's also possible to apply more descriptive item titles to these date-based archive pages. I've been doing this for a while now. There are two tradeoffs I've noticed, both related to my decision to use the title of the newest item for a given date. First, if the item is untitled (as some are, when they are very brief), then the page will lack a title. I could fix this by having the script revert to the newest titled item, but haven't.

The other tradeoff is that on days with more than one titled item, the newest one ends up representing the whole page. That's great if the item Google reports is related to your search, but otherwise it's weird.

Is it worse to be misled by a title not clearly related to your search than to be told nothing more than the date? So far, I've decided to err on the side of verbosity. After all, the title that you weren't searching for might serendipitously be something that you wished you had known about.

I could, of course, just write stories and only use archive pages to introduce them. This would guarantee a one-to-one relationship among stories, pages, and titles. But I like the idea of a daily flow that can include several items.

Mark, by the way, is doing a sensational service with his series of accessibility tips. So far my Radio site doesn't flunk, but I've got a feeling that my use of the default template will not reach day 30 unscathed.

Former URL: