Visual Importance of Page Titles

24 Feb 2009 - 3:56pm
5 years ago
7 replies
171 reads
pyces
2007

Title! Title! Just as you said, title is what users are looking for to
ensure them they're in the right place. If users don't immediately see
the expected title when they click from some similarly labeled call to
action, uncertainty sets in. Did I click the right link? Am I in the
right place? Important elements that provide users with a sense of place
and ensure them that they're not lost (and that the company is taking
care of them, at least while they're on the site) should always take
precedence over marketing banners for the best user experience.

Courtney

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
Jennifer
Sent: Tuesday, February 24, 2009 4:54 AM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Visual Importance of Page Titles

Hi everyone,

We have a bit of an internal debate going on about the importance of
page titles - from a visual standpoint - as compared with other
elements of a page. That is to say, should a page title (what
displays *on* the page, not in the browser frame) be the most
important item of information on the page that a user first sees upon
arriving there?

Or, should the key marketing message - in our case, a 'banner'
image/graphic - take priority over a page title?

The argument for a page title being more important is that its raison
d'etre is to help the user understand where they've arrived at.

The argument for the 'banner' message being more important is that
it is the 'meat' that we want users to see and interact with. In
this case, it's not being suggested to remove page titles; instead,
to make them considerably smaller so that the focus is on the banner
space (which is top/center and large).

Thoughts? Opinions? I'd love your input!

Regards,
Jennifer
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Comments

24 Feb 2009 - 4:44pm
bminihan
2007

I might get shot for this, but the page title isn't the most
important thing on the page.

"The thing the page is supposed to do or say."

That's the most important thing on the page.

The title's reason for being is, indeed, to tell people they are
where they intended to be. Therefore, it must be easy to find and
perhaps even subconsciously scanned while one absorbs the whole page.
But I disagree that it should be more important/prominent (in
general) than a marketing message in the banner. If you can tell the
page title at a glance and it's only 12 px, then it has served its
purpose.

Of course, on a case by case basis, you can easily find marketing
messages that are less important than the page title, but that's a
different question.

2 cents =]

Bryan

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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24 Feb 2009 - 4:52pm
Alex ONeal
2008

I think you can, and should, have both. The page title can be obvious and
clear to the user, while there can also be a clear call to action (your
marketing splash). Your title is not only the description of the page's
content, it's part of the navigational scent of the site, and as such is
can't be left out. This in no way stops you from having a clear "center" to
the page's content. In fact, having a primary focus to your content is
better than scattering the focus.

If marketing wants to leave the title off completely, that's a problem not
only in usability but in SEO. There's a reason the H1 tags are important to
search engines - they're important to users! And as search engines overcome
the Heisenbergian issue of depth of analysis vs breadth of pages, things
like semantically sound page construction will become even more important.

bests,
Alex

P.S. As an aside, I would recommend trying to eliminate either-or questions
in design. Frequently there are many choices, not just two, and in the few
cases where their truly are only two options, the attempt to find more will
be the exception that proves the rule. :-) The tyranny of dichotomy limits
much more than it resolves.

--
The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The next best time is
now.

24 Feb 2009 - 4:55pm
Katie Albers
2005

What Courtney said. That's true. Not to mention the fact that if your
users eyes are immediately drawn to a banner, you risk losing them to
the response to that call to action. Oh, but they can come back really
easily (say your detractors). No doubt, but why would they. Once a
call to action is responded to (and this doesn't mean the user takes
an action that's discernible to an observer), the whole site is likely
to fall off the mental to-do list.

And then there are all the studies which universally show that users
basically skip whatever's first on the page if it looks at all ad-
like, so what are your "meaty messages" doing up there in the first
place?

Katie Albers
Founder & Principal Consultant
FirstThought
User Experience Strategy & Project Management
310 356 7550
katie at firstthought.com

On Feb 24, 2009, at 12:56 PM, Jordan, Courtney wrote:

> Title! Title! Just as you said, title is what users are looking for to
> ensure them they're in the right place. If users don't immediately see
> the expected title when they click from some similarly labeled call to
> action, uncertainty sets in. Did I click the right link? Am I in the
> right place? Important elements that provide users with a sense of
> place
> and ensure them that they're not lost (and that the company is taking
> care of them, at least while they're on the site) should always take
> precedence over marketing banners for the best user experience.
>
> Courtney
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
> [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
> Jennifer
> Sent: Tuesday, February 24, 2009 4:54 AM
> To: discuss at ixda.org
> Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Visual Importance of Page Titles
>
> Hi everyone,
>
> We have a bit of an internal debate going on about the importance of
> page titles - from a visual standpoint - as compared with other
> elements of a page. That is to say, should a page title (what
> displays *on* the page, not in the browser frame) be the most
> important item of information on the page that a user first sees upon
> arriving there?
>
> Or, should the key marketing message - in our case, a 'banner'
> image/graphic - take priority over a page title?
>
> The argument for a page title being more important is that its raison
> d'etre is to help the user understand where they've arrived at.
>
> The argument for the 'banner' message being more important is that
> it is the 'meat' that we want users to see and interact with. In
> this case, it's not being suggested to remove page titles; instead,
> to make them considerably smaller so that the focus is on the banner
> space (which is top/center and large).
>
> Thoughts? Opinions? I'd love your input!
>
> Regards,
> Jennifer
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

24 Feb 2009 - 5:25pm
Roy Weston
2009

This research may be of some help:

Validating the Use and Role of Visual Elements of Web Pages in Navigation with an Eye-Tracking Study -Yeliz Yesilada, Caroline Jay, Robert Stevens, Simon Harper (University of Manchester).
http://www2008.org/papers/pdf/p11-yesilada.pdf

Best Wishes,

Roy.

25 Feb 2009 - 1:00am
Rajdeep Gill
2009

Have both but in a way where the user clearly sees the title and the
banner message. How about something like this:
title - top left
menu - top right
banner - right underneath title and menu
And have the banner be something the user can interact with, e.g. if
they click on a part of the banner, it takes them to another section
of the site.

If the title and menu are aligned...title won't go missed.

And take the gestalt approach, make sure everything blends together
in a way that the user feels comfortable; organized and structured as
a whole.
http://www.interaction-design.org/encyclopedia/gestalt_principles_of_form_perception.html

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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25 Feb 2009 - 10:28am
Jesse Zolna
2008

How related are the title and banner? Can the user determine "where they are" via the banner/meat alone?

If the "meat" is related to the page, they should not need the title to figure out where they are.

If the banner ("meat") is not related to the page and you want them to look at the banner, it would be wise to make them feel comfortable with a title, so they get ;less turned off by the banner.

25 Feb 2009 - 10:47am
Anonymous

Thanks to everyone for your input.

A few points/clarifications:
- We are not considering removing the page titles, just determining
whether it should be placed/weighted in such a manner that it is very
much obvious

- Our 'banners' are not ads, really. They are large graphics that
promote something within that section; the main topic of choice at
the moment, so clicking on it will not take the user out of the path.
Instead, it will hopefully get them to information they want (yes,
based on what that business owner wants them to want ;) )

- Someone emailed me asking for more detail about the 'genre of
page' in question. First off, it's less about the genre of a page
or set of pages, as it is about developing a cohesive architecture
across our site. Understandably, there is the possibility of having a
couple/few different structures based on the content of a page.
However, I tend to think that a page's title should be handled
similarly throughout a site. That said, the 'genre' of our pages is
software sales/support and security information. We are broken up by
type of consumer.

- Lastly, we don't run a 'banner' graphic on every single page, so
there are many cases - typically the 3rd level or further in - where a
more obvious page title wouldn't 'interfere' with anything else on
the page.

The more I've been thinking about it while reading all your replies,
the more I think I'm realizing that our current language is mixing a
'section heading' with a page title. Meaning, we are placing the
same level of emphasis and importance on language that identifies: A)
the section of the site (e.g., consumer segment, store, etc.); and B)
the title of the content page within that segment/store/etc.

So, I've got some more thinking to do... and your input is very
helpful!

Best,
Jennifer

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=39171

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