C3. Difficulty recognizing or interpreting a label

Situation Definition:

A situation that arises from difficulty understanding the meaning of

associated with various features, elements, or objects within the DL.

Factor(s) Leading to the Situation:

    • Inadequate knowledge:

    • Inappropriate labeling:

    • Inappropriate labeling:

    • Inappropriate labeling:

    • Inappropriate labeling:

    • Inappropriate labeling:

Guideline or Design Recommendation:

    1. Label features and elements in the DL to indicate their functions
    2. Label the items in the DL to indicate the nature of documents
    3. Ensure the clarity of the purpose, function, and outcome of using features and elements
    4. Offer assistance in interpreting the meaning of

      whenever necessary

Rationale and Objective:

Labeling is critical in designing a DL webpage for BVI users (1). The function of labels varies depending on their role on the web page. Because DLs include a range of terminology related to the system, subject/topic areas,

 etc., it is important to provide clear labels that plainly designate the purpose of the label. Labeling for navigation, such as links, should be focused on “where to go,” while labeling for identification of contents should describe “what it is” by using titles, (sub)headings, taglines, or image and video captions (2). For items denoting additional information, labeling should explain the relationship between items. For words with all upper-case characters, some screen readers’ default setting is to read upper-case text letter-by-letter, thereby reducing readability for BVI users.

Techniques and Methods:

1.1. Describe “what” and “how” for the

of features and elements
1.2. Label links consistently with the title of the destination page
2.1. Describe “what it is” for the label of an object
3.1. Use common terms instead of jargon whenever possible
3.2. Avoid using all upper-case characters in labeling
3.3. Add supplementary text to describe the purpose, function, and outcome of features and elements if needed
4.1. Provide a glossary for the labels used in a DL
4.2. Provide

tips to present the glossary term for a label

Recommended Features:

1.1. “What,” “how”, or “where” descriptions of a feature or element label (See example 1.1)
2.1. “What it is” description of an item label (See example 2.1)
3.1. Common terminologies (See example 3.1)
3.2. Mixed-case labels (See example 3.2)
3.3. Supplementary text (See example 3.3)
4.1. Glossary (See example 4.1)
4.2. Context-sensitive help tips (See example 4.2)


1.1. “What”, “how”, or “where” descriptions of a feature or element label: Good design

Intuitive labeling to features (Cite this item, Add to a new list, View Full Item)

DPLA interface for an item with intuitive labels including "Cite this item", "Add to a new list", and "View Full Item"

2.1. “What it is” description of an item label: Bad design

Insufficient information is provided for the user to understand what the item is.

An entry for an item listed as "Cape Cod sea reminiscences / G.V.C." with limited additional information for Published (1913) and Author (G. V. C.)

3.1. Common terminologies: Good design

Library of Congress uses common language that everyone can understand.

Example of Refine your results options from Library of Congress that uses common language: American History; Government, Law & Politics; World Cultures & History; Performing Arts; War & Military; Local History & Folklife; Art & Architecture; Web Sites; Social & Business History; and Geography & Places

3.2. Do not label with all capitals: Bad design

"Browse your computer" label written in all capitals with added message "All Caps labels are very hard to read"

(Source: Babich, 2016)

3.3. Supplementary text: How to example

Add supplementary text for describing “Browse”

Example of supplementary text to describe browse: "The Browse page is a series of links on various topics about the March on Milwaukee. Eight categories are listed: Events, people, places, organizations, subjects, media types, newspapers, and Collections A-Z. Below each of these headings are links to important events or topics, in alphabetical order..."

4.1. Glossary: Good example

WCAG 2.1 provides a glossary.

Glossary page for "abbreviation" with definition, notes, and related information

4.2. Context-sensitive help tips: Good example

Instruction added in the box label as help tips: “Enter a term to search the transcript and hit enter. Then find the term in the transcript by using the H key to navigate directly to the term.”

March on Milwaukee search interface

Related Resources:

    1. Babich, N. (2016). Designing More Efficient Forms: Structure, Inputs, Labels and Actions. Retrieved from https://uxplanet.org/designing-more-efficient-forms-structure-inputs-labels-and-actions-e3a47007114f
    2. Thurow, S. (2015). How To Create A Website’s Nomenclature (Or Labeling System) For Online Findability. Retrieved from https://marketingland.com/create-websites-nomenclature-labeling-system-online-findability-131130
    3. Cutts, M. (2005). Gadgets, Google, and SEO. Retrieved from https://www.mattcutts.com/blog/dashes-vs-underscores/
    4. WCAG 2.0 Guideline 3.1 Readable. (2008). Retrieved from https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/#meaning
    5. WebAIM. (2020). Decoding Label and Name for Accessibility. Retrieved from https://webaim.org/articles/label-name/
    6. WebAIM. (2020). Associate Form Labels with Controls. Creating Accessible Forms. Retrieved from https://webaim.org/techniques/forms/#labels

See also:

Help-seeking Situations > C. Difficulty with help