17 May 2008

Brief titles

A web page should have a brief <title>.

When I say “<title>”, I am specifically referring to the text which usually gets display in the browser window’s title bar.

When I say “brief” I mean, “no longer than necessary”. (Which can sometimes be rather long, but only when necessary.)

To put it another way: Leave your slogan out of the <title>. Slogans belong in the body of the page.

What is the <title> used for? The title of the window, which helps you to distinguish it from other windows. The text on a tab, which helps you distinguish it from other tabs. The text of a bookmark/favorite. All these functions tend to work better with a <title> that is no longer than it needs to be.


The home page of the Microlite20 site has the <title>: “Microlite20 | The smallest thing in d20 gaming” The slogan doesn’t help me distinguish between windows or tabs. I have to delete it when I bookmark the site. The slogan appears prominently on the page itself, were it achieves the goals of a slogan. It’s place in the <title> doesn’t really help with the slogan’s goals, since we already saw it in the page itself.

(OK, yeah, slogans are meant to be repeated. This isn’t the best place to repeat it.)

Other pages on the Microlite20 site, are much better. “Downloads | Microlite20” This shows me that it’s the download page of the Microlite20 site. Exactly the information I want in a windows title bar, on a tab, or for the name of a bookmark. “Microlite20” alone would be too little because it wouldn’t tell me that it’s not the home page. “Downloads” alone would be too little because it wouldn’t tell me that it is the Microlite20 downloads page rather than another site’s download page.

I only pick on the Microlite20 site because it was the last site I bookmarked that I had to delete stuff out of the bookmark name. There are, of course, much worse offenders. It’s only the home page that has the slogan, and name+six-word-slogan isn’t all that bad.

Anyway—a thought out loud.

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