E2. Difficulty identifying current location or tracking paths

Situation Definition:

A situation that arises from difficulty identifying the current location, monitoring the path to which a user moved, and returning to a previous location within a DL.

Factor(s) Leading to the Situation:

    • Complex information presentation:

    • Complex information presentation:

    • Inadequate help information:

    • Inadequate support:

    • Inadequate support:

    • Inappropriate labeling:

Guideline or Design Recommendation:

    1. Maintain hierarchical navigation structures consistently across DL pages
    2. Articulate the current location and paths throughout a DL
    3. Title each DL page, each section of a page, and landmarks in a meaningful way
    4. Allow a user to return to a previously visited location in a DL
    5. Label all navigation elements in a meaningful way

Rationale and Objective:

To effectively navigate a DL, users must be able to answer the question “Where am I?” Knowing the current location and other possible navigation paths is critical in information retrieval, and failing to recognize the current location is a common problem in DL navigation for BVI users (1). Users should be informed about their current location within a set of related pages. For users of

, a navigation landmark is a quick way to jump to the navigation. A

showing 1) the location of the current page in the DL; 2) the structure of the website (how the pages interconnect;) and 3) the path of the navigation, may be helpful (2). The use of

and/or sitemaps may improve navigability and reduce the number of required actions by indicating higher/lower-level pages and the relationship between web pages, as well as the location of the user within the DL’s hierarchy (3). Breadcrumbs can also show the history of how a user interacted with the DL web page.

Techniques and Methods:

1.1. Use consistent navigation aids (e.g., navigation menu,

, and tabs) on all pages of a DL
1.2. Design navigation aids, such as menu bars and sitemaps, with a hierarchical structure
2.1. Add location indicators such as

on each page
2.2. Provide an accessible sitemap tab on every page, describing the current location within a DL structure
2.3. Create URLs to match item titles
3.1/5.1. Provide meaningful labels for page titles, section titles, and landmark titles
4.1. Use the HTML 5 history API to generate a list of visited pages

Recommended Features:

1.1. Consistent navigation aids (See example 1.1)
1.2.a. Menu bar (See example 1.2.a)
1.2.b/2.2. Accessible

(See example 1.2.b/2.2)

(See examples 2.1.a and 2.1.b)
2.3. Descriptive URLs (See example 2.3)
3.1/5.1. Page titles, section titles and landmark titles (See examples 3.1.a/5.1.a, 3.1.b/5.1.b, and 3.1.c/5.1.c)
4.1.a. HTML5 History API (e.g., pushState) (See example 4.1.a)
4.1.b. Visited page links (See example 4.1.b)


1.1. Consistent navigation aids: Good design

HathiTrust keeps consistent navigation aids. The top menu remains in the same position across all pages. Also, the location of the search box for BVI users is consistent for all pages.

Homepage of HathiTrust

HathiTrust homepage with consistent navigation menu on top reading Home About Collections Help Feedback and search box below

Search result page

HathiTrust search results page featuring consistent layout (search bar with current search, results list, filter options) and top navigational menu

Item level

HathiTrust top navigational menu reading Home About Collections Help Feedback on left with search and log in options on right

1.2.a. Creating menu bar with a hierarchical structure and accessibility: How-to example

Navigation treeview example using computed Properties – Keyboard support from https://www.w3.org/TR/wai-aria-practices/examples/treeview/treeview-2/treeview-2a.html

Expanded hierarchical menu of Foods listing fruits, vegetables, and grains with corresponding HTML code: <ul role="tree" aria-labelledby="tree1"> = $0 ... </ul>

1.2.b/2.2. Accessible sitemap: How to example and Good design

Locate sitemap at the end of the footer so that users always know the sitemap is the last of the page and also, they can use it as a navigational jump function to their desired page. For example, Queens Public Library puts a sitemap at the footer’s end, and the sitemap is accessible.

Sitemap navigational link in footer of page leading to sitemap with sections such as Books Movies More, Research, and Special Collections

2.1.a. Breadcrumb: How-to example

WAI-ARIA breadcrumb example from https://www.w3.org/TR/wai-aria-practices/examples/breadcrumb/index.html

<nav aria-label= “Breadcrumb” class= “breadcrumb”>

HTML code for the breadcrumb design pattern: <nav aria-label="Breadcrumb" class="breadcrumb"> = $0 <ol> <li> <a href="../../">WAI-ARIA Authoring Practices 1.1 </a> </li> <li> ::before <a href="../../#aria_ex">Design Patterns</a></li> <li> ::before <a href="../../#breadcrumb">Breadcrumb Pattern</a></li><li>...</li></ol></nav>

2.1.b. Breadcrumb: Good design

Breadcrumbs with Home link in the navigation bar (Europeana, the EU digital platform for cultural heritage, 2018)

Example of Breadcrumbs with Home link in the navigation bar

Search result link in the breadcrumb (trail)

Search Results link within trail: UWM Collections Home >> March On Milwaukee Digital Collection >> Search Results >> Transcript in PDF

2.3. Clear URL path structure: How-to example

e.g., /item?sessionid=9871209387498&token=918123… (Users can not know where they are and what the actual web address is.)

Change to /collection/248/item/31 (Informs users know where they are and what it is.)

3.1.a/5.1.b. Section title: How-to example

More elaborations added for JAWS screen reader: renaming the link for search results, descriptions added for navigation marks – “Previous/Next Search Result” (invisible, but readable by JAWS)

e.g., <span class= “secondary_button_icon icon_arrow_w”>Previous Search Result</span>

3.1.b/5.1.b. Clear labeling for navigation indicators: How-to example/Good design

Add more text information in the label of navigation indicators

Changes navigation indicators from "1 of 21" to "1 of 21 items" and "Next" to "Next Item"

Changed "Results" to "Back to Results" and "2 or 20" to "2 of 20 search results"

3.1.c/5.1.c Clear labeling: How-to example/Good design

Rename “Digital Collection” to “March on Milwaukee Digital Collection” (Add more specific description)

Rename “Digital Collection” to “March on Milwaukee Digital Collection” for more specific description in breadcrumb

4.1.a. HTML 5 History API: How-to example

Apply JavaScript HTML5 History APIs, such as history.pushState(), history.back/forward(), and history.go(index), which can be used to move forward and backward or move to a specific page visited

4.1.b. Visited page links: How to example

Avoid ‘target= “blank”’ for links because this can break browser navigation

Related Resources:

    1. Xie, I., Babu, R., Joo, S., & Fuller, P. (2015). Using digital libraries non-visually: Understanding the help-seeking situations of blind users. Information Research: An International Electronic Journal20(2), paper 673. Retrieved from http://InformationR.net/ir/20-2/paper673.html.
    2. W3C. Providing a site map. Retrieved from https://www.w3.org/WAI/WCAG21/Techniques/general/G63.html
    3. Gube, J. (2009). Breadcrumbs In Web Design: Examples And Best Practices. Retrieved from  https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/03/breadcrumbs-in-web-design-examples-and-best-practices/
    4. Europeana. (2018). Exhibitions. Retrieved from https://www.europeana.eu/portal/en/exhibitions 
    5. Façanha, A. R., Viana, W., Pequeno, M. C., de Borba Campos, M., & Sánchez, J. (2014, June). Touchscreen mobile phones virtual keyboarding for people with visual disabilities. In International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction(pp. 134-145). Springer, Cham.
    6. Holst, C. (2014). 4 Design Patterns That Violate Back-Button, Expectations. Retrieved from https://baymard.com/blog/back-button-expectations
    7. Markus, N., Malik, S., Juhasz, Z., & Arató, A. (2012, July). Accessibility for the blind on an open-source mobile platform. In International Conference on Computers for Handicapped Persons (pp. 599-606). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.
    8. MotoCMS. (2014). Breadcrumb Navigation Explained: Types, Benefits, Guidelines. Retrieved from https://www.motocms.com/blog/en/breadcrumb-navigation/
    9. Open Library. (2018). Retrieved from https://openlibrary.org/
    10. Sutton, J. (2002). A Guide to Making Documents Accessible to People who are Blind or Visually Impaired. American Council of the Blind, Washington, DC.
    11. Theng, Y. L., Duncker, E., Mohd-Nasir, N., Buchanan, G., & Thimbleby, H. (1999, September). Design guidelines and user-centred digital libraries. In International Conference on Theory and Practice of Digital Libraries (pp. 167-183). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.
    12. W3C. (2018). WCAG 2.1 Guideline 2.4 Navigable. Retrieved from https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG21/#navigable
    13. W3C. (2018). WCAG 2.1 Guideline 2.4.8 Location. Retrieved from https://www.w3.org/WAI/WCAG21/Understanding/location.html
    14. W3C. (2018). WCAG 2.1 Guideline 2.4.2 Page Titled. Retrieved from https://www.w3.org/WAI/WCAG21/Understanding/page-titled.html
    15. W3C. (2018). WCAG 2.1 3.2.3 Consistent Navigation.  Retrieved from https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG21/%23consistent-navigation%20#consistent-navigation
    16. W3C. (2018). WCAG 2.1 2.1.1 Keyboard. Retrieved from https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG21/#keyboard
    17. W3C. (2018). WCAG 2.1 2.4.3 Focus Order. Retrieved from https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG21/#focus-order
    18. W3C. (2018). WCAG 2.1 Guideline 3.2 Predictable. Retrieved from https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG21/%23consistent-navigation#predictable

See Also:

Help-seeking Situations > E. Difficulty identifying current status, path, or cursor mode