on 1996-10-31 October 31, 1996
This column has been touching on some pretty Big Issues lately, including disabled access, international usability, and site structure. This month, let's look at some details that may not be as profound but still matter for Web usability.
As part of the HTML standard, every Web page should have a <TITLE> defined in its header. Page titles are important for navigation support since they are normally the default way to refer to pages in various navigation support mechanisms such as bookmark lists, history lists, overview diagrams, etc. Titles are also often used as the best way of listing retrieved pages in search engines.
Many of these important uses of the page <TITLE> are taken out of context, and it is therefore important that the title has enough words to stand on its own and be meaningful when read in a menu or a search listing. On the other hand, overly long titles slow down users, so as a guideline aim at titles between four and ten words.