[pmwiki-users] Avoiding Headings in the SideBar

H. Fox haganfox at gmail.com
Fri Aug 12 13:22:13 CDT 2005

On 8/11/05, Patrick R. Michaud <pmichaud at pobox.com> wrote:
> On Thu, Aug 11, 2005 at 06:22:58PM -0700, H. Fox wrote:
> >
> > If you think the sidebar is part of the document, then why don't you
> > include the sidebar in your print output?  You don't, do you?  That's
> > because the SideBar isn't properly a part of the wikipage document --
> > it's for site navigation.
> On the other hand, show me a web usability expert who believes
> that site navigation isn't an important component for nearly
> every page on a site.  :-) :-)

Of course site navigation (UI) is an important component.  Nothing
I've written is at variance with that.

The channel knob on a TV is important, too -- it's just not part of a
TV show.  (Not a perfect analogy, but all  I can conjure up just now.)

Let me turn your challenge around on you.  Show me some web usability
experts who use headings on their web sites in the manner we're
discussing.  I doubt you'll find many, if any.

Jakob Nielsen didn't get the memo.  (Note the font size, btw.)

The W3C doesn't have headings in their side menu...

...nor do Lynch and Horton...

...nor Oreilly's XML.com...

...nor the author of this hefty document...

...nor the folks over at Mozilla.org.

Heh.  I found a site that does: Wikipedia.  It looks like they use H5's.

> The fact that we don't include navigation elements in the print output
> could be argued to be a characteristic of the output medium (paper
> isn't very interactive), and not as an intrinsic statement that
> navigation is somehow separate from a document.

Again: of course.  It's obviously a characteristic of the medium.

Does the author  of a wikipage document *really* think their
document's structure (outline) changes depending upon the medium?
Don't they believe it's the same document, only in a different medium?

Think of it this way: Ask someone to write down an outline of their
wiki document.  I doubt they'll include the site navigation headings
in their outline.  An outline from the screen medium would be the same
as one from a printed copy.  Why should a machine-generated outline be
any different?

> But your point is very well taken.
> > What I'm trying to get across is: Using headings in the SideBar is
> > misleading to tools that take advantage of heading structure of pages
> > for various purposes.
> Speaking from a semantic perspective, it seems to me that the
> sidebar is an important part of the page, [snip]

It is.

Here's where we starkly disagree (which is fine):

You believe, probably technically correctly, the wikipage is merely a
portion of the document, which has a dynamic structure depending on
the medium.  I think when an author creates a wikipage, for all
practical purposes they intend *that* to be "the document".

That's all.

> At any rate, I certainly didn't choose <h1> in the sidebar "to
> create font effects" -- I could've come up with any number of
> other ways to do that.

It wold be nice to have an option to avoid using headings, even if it
isn't the default.


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