On 10/10/07 (23:03) russ said:

>../ snip /..

>However, most people would agree that:
>1. consistency across the site is the most important thing (changing the
>source order on different pages could cause a great deal of confusion).
>2. if navigation comes before content, skip links are valuable for certain
>types of users.
>"But for less experienced screen reader users, it seems clear that many are
>likely to find skip links a useful device for moving directly to specific
>sections of the page."
>An endless debate. And this is before opening up the other aspect of the
>debate... How source order affects Google rank  :)

Thanks to everyone for your thoughts on this.
Oh, and as many correctly guessed, the article to which I was obliquely
referring was indeed <http://usability.com.au/resources/source-
order.cfm> -- I meant to cite the URL in the original post but it
slipped through the net.

There are merits to both sides of the debate, but after thinking it
through and in light of the opinions offered here, I think that I'm
going to go with the following principles:

1. Navigation before content in cases where navigation is modest (say,
half a dozen items or so).

2. Content first in those cases where navigation is more voluminous and
less clear cut (eg blogs, where there might be blogrolls or archive link
lists of considerable length).
(Georg: the article you cited was primarily discussing blogs rather than
'regular' sites. It made some interesting points though).

3. Skip links to permit jumping to content areas (main content and
sidebar): definitely, and visible too as they can useful to mobile users.

4. The Google ranking issue is a tricky one, but the official google
line is always 'design for humans, not robots', and if making your site
as accessible as possible isn't designing for humans then I don't know
what is. (Interestingly, a screenreader might be considered almost a
grey area between 'human' and 'robot').

5. And finally, as Russ pointed out, consistency is vital, but that is
true of any site design, whether accessible or not.

Thanks again to all who threw in their 2 cents.

Rick Lecoat

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