Understanding WCAG 2.0

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Consistent Navigation:
Understanding SC 3.2.3

3.2.3 Consistent Navigation: Navigational mechanisms that are repeated on multiple Web pages within a set of Web pages occur in the same relative order each time they are repeated, unless a change is initiated by the user. (Level AA)

Intent of this Success Criterion

The intent of this Success Criterion is to encourage the use of consistent presentation and layout for users who interact with repeated content within a set of Web pages and need to locate specific information or functionality more than once. Individuals with low vision who use screen magnification to display a small portion of the screen at a time often use visual cues and page boundaries to quickly locate repeated content. Presenting repeated content in the same order is also important for visual users who use spatial memory or visual cues within the design to locate repeated content.

It is important to note that the use of the phrase "same order" in this section is not meant to imply that subnavigation menus cannot be used or that blocks of secondary navigation or page structure cannot be used. Instead, this Success Criterion is intended to assist users who interact with repeated content across Web pages to be able to predict the location of the content they are looking for and find it more quickly when they encounter it again.

Users may initiate a change in the order by using adaptive user agents or by setting preferences so that the information is presented in a way that is most useful to them.

Specific Benefits of Success Criterion 3.2.3:

  • Ensuring that repeated components occur in the same order on each page of a site helps users become comfortable that they will able to predict where they can find things on each page. This helps users with cognitive limitations, users with low vision, users with intellectual disabilities, and also those who are blind.

Examples of Success Criterion 3.2.3

Related Resources

Resources are for information purposes only, no endorsement implied.

Techniques and Failures for Success Criterion 3.2.3 - Consistent Navigation

Each numbered item in this section represents a technique or combination of techniques that the WCAG Working Group deems sufficient for meeting this Success Criterion. [begin change]However, it is not necessary to use these particular techniques. Any techniques, whether published by the WCAG group or not, can be sufficient if a) they satisfy the Success Criterion and b) all of the WCAG 2.0 conformance requirements have been met.[end change]

Additional Techniques (Advisory) for 3.2.3

Although not required for conformance, the following additional techniques should be considered in order to make content more accessible. Not all techniques can be used or would be effective in all situations.

Common Failures for SC 3.2.3

The following are common mistakes that are considered failures of Success Criterion 3.2.3 by the WCAG Working Group.

Key Terms

Web page

a non-embedded resource obtained from a single URI using HTTP plus any other resources that are used in the rendering or intended to be rendered together with it by a user agent

Note 1: Although any "other resources" would be rendered together with the primary resource, they would not necessarily be rendered simultaneously with each other.

Note 2: For the purposes of conformance with these guidelines, a resource must be "non-embedded" within the scope of conformance to be considered a Web page.

Example 1: A Web resource including all embedded images and media.

Example 2: A Web mail program built using Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX). The program lives entirely at http://example.com/mail, but includes an inbox, a contacts area and a calendar. Links or buttons are provided that cause the inbox, contacts, or calendar to display, but do not change the URI of the page as a whole.

Example 3: A customizable portal site, where users can choose content to display from a set of different content modules.

Example 4: When you enter "http://shopping.example.com/" in your browser, you enter a movie-like interactive shopping environment where you visually move around in a store dragging products off of the shelves around you and into a visual shopping cart in front of you. Clicking on a product causes it to be demonstrated with a specification sheet floating alongside. This might be a single-page Web site or just one page within a Web site.

same relative order

same position relative to other items

Note: Items are considered to be in the same relative order even if other items are inserted or removed from the original order. For example, expanding navigation menus may insert an additional level of detail or a secondary navigation section may be inserted into the reading order.

set of Web pages

collection of Web pages that share a common purpose and that are created by the same author, group or organization

Note: Different language versions would be considered different sets of Web pages.