2.4.5 Multiple Ways

More than one way is available to locate a Web page within a set of Web pages except where the Web Page is the result of, or a step in, a process. (Level AA).

Description

A website may differ ranging a simple website of 4-5 pages to thousands of web pages. Searching for information on web pages is extremely difficult especially in case of large websites.

In order to ensure the information is easily available for every user providing navigation to the targeted web pages in multiple ways is required. The accessibility consultant should decide the navigation mechanism right at the wireframe stage to accommodate the functionality within the design. However if the website contains only 4-5 pages and all of them can be navigated from the home page and all other pages of the website no separate mechanism of finding information is required. If the website is medium, large or huge in size the other mechanisms such as search, site map or table of contents is required.

Providing Multiple Ways

Search

A website search functionality helps the user to type the intended keywords and hit the search button. On the same page or a different page, the search results will be made available for the user from which the required page can be navigated. Extremely large websites such as retail online stores having thousands of products, extensive information etc suits for search functionality.

Sitemap

Sitemap is a webpage having links to all the web pages of the website. Usually the link to sitemap is available from all the pages of the website generally placed at the footer area. Links to all pages of the website can be arranged in a hierarchical order or using lists and nested lists. If the sitemap contains many links ensure that they are organized properly. A sitemap should be able to provide the structure of the website having the links to all the sections and their sub-sections. Care need to be taken that the sitemap is updated whenever the website updates. Also ensure that no broken links are available in the sitemap. Sitemap can be best used in websites of private, public, government organizations, online news websites, magazines etc.

Table of Content (TOC)

A table of content is almost similar to a sitemap but a TOC provides the list of links that form a relation from one another. A table of content may provide only the main sections of the website. TOC helps to understand the sections of the website and allows the user to jump directly to the section required. The Websites such as learning tutorials are the best suit in this category. The w3schools provides the links to all courses from the home page as a table of content though it is not mentioned as the TOC.

Exceptions

The following pages of the website can be exempted from this accessibility requirement;

  • The page that is displayed as a step in process of completing an action. Eg: The second page of registration which is displayed only after filling up the first page and navigate to step 2.
  • A page which is displayed as a result of some action. Eg: A success page appeared after a bank transaction.
  • Pages which can be viewed only after logging into the website. Eg: My Account page can be observed only when the user logs into the website with correct credentials.
  • Displaying only appropriate links in the sitemap depending on the user profile. Eg: An admin user can access more links and functionalities in the website when compared with a general user.

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