Wednesday October 18, 2006

Title Of Blog.

Just to get some perspective on what’s to follow, let’s review: It’s two thousand and blessed six. Almost seven. We’ve come so far as a civilization. It’s been decades since we put a man on the moon. We’re building a space station. We’ve been able to determine that Abraham Lincoln had depression. Women can vote now! And Justin Timberlake is courageously bringing sexy back after it’s been lost for so, so long. This is truly a magical time.

So why do many respected and established web publishers seem to hate <title> element and, by extension, me? Titles are great! With a properly-formed title, I can look up at the top of my browser an see exactly where I am and what I’m reading. The best sites might employ some nifty breadcrumb system, but there are certainly other options.

So in these modern times, when the aforementioned sexy is being brought back, crazy Korean dictators can detonate nuclear weapons underground with virtually no reprisal and personal jetpacks are just around the corner, it’s irksome to reach an article I’d like to bookmark and, when doing so, discover that my bookmark reads something like “Pete’s Blog.” This informational oversight is akin to an author like Stephen King labeling all the chapters of his new book “Stephen King’s Book.” A decision like that may then make way for a lively conversation at the watercooler that might go a little something like this:

“Hey Biff, are you reading the new Stephen King book?”

“Yes, Sally, I am. It’s great! What chapter are you on?”

“I’m on Chapter ‘Stephen King’s Book’.”

“Woah, me too! I can’t believe the main character’s wife turned out to be a succubus!”

“What? Oh, great. Thanks for ruining the ending for me, Biff. You’re a real jerkface.”

And… scene.

Titles are important, and not just because they save friendships and keep people from being jerkfaces. They describe the content of the active page in a browser, hidden tabbed pages and bookmarks. Do not sections, articles or blog posts have headlines? Titles? Other identifying markers? Wouldn’t it be more descriptive (and not to mention make you look more sexy to Google) to put the headline of the article in that page’s <title> element? The incredibly dull title “Pete’s Blog” could easily upgrade to the more useful and descriptive “How Web 2.0 Suffocated The Creativity of a Nation: an article on Pete’s Blog.” Now that’s a title! That tells me something the next time I pass that bookmark or glance at my browser tabs. It also ensures that I don’t end up with a half dozen “Pete’s Blog” bookmarks with no idea what they really are.

So there you go. Use your <head> (snicker). Let’s give the <title> element the love and attention it deserves. Then we can all move on to bigger things. Like jetpacks.

Commentary


Michael Heilemann » 4074 days ago #

I’m sorry, but the moment you said:

“Hey Biff, are you reading the new Stephen King book?”

I thought:

“Hey butthead, mind your own business!... Or are you too… chicken?”

Phu » 4073 days ago #

I agree completely and have been doing this for a while now on my own site. Not only is it great for users, it’s also good for SEO purposes. A win-win if there ever was one.

Julian » 4073 days ago #

Good point. I’ve been much on the Django site lately and found there titles to be unusable, so I submitted a ticket right away:.

Nathan Smith » 4073 days ago #

Jared: Thanks for alerting the world to this horrible problem. People need to get these basics right so we can move on. Otherwise, how are we ever going to have personal flight capabilities? Sheesh.

Jared Christensen » 4073 days ago #

Nothing must stand in the way of getting my personal jetpack.

Mat » 4073 days ago #

So says the man with the most esoteric of home page titles.

Tell me dear sir, how am I to conclude that you are in fact a fancy-pancy designer from said title:

Jaredigital®. People on the internet may be taller than they appear.™

Title of blog indeed.

Jared Christensen » 4073 days ago #

Ouch.

I’d like to think the constant complaining, nitpicking, garish color scheme and goofy robot pretty much tell the whole “I’m a designer” story, don’t you?

Mat » 4073 days ago #

Too true.

I’ll let you off just this once.

Nicholas Helke » 4072 days ago #

This is also a problem with e-mails and the subject field.

Your post, Jared, has just inspired me to write about the subject problem with e-mails.

Rob Weychert » 4072 days ago #

I wholeheartedly agree that title is rarely given the attention to detail that it deserves, but I still must admonish you for referring to the title element as a tag. Tags are the things in angle brackets that mark the beginning and end of an element. It’s a good thing I can’t stay mad at your site, what with all the pink.

Jared Christensen » 4070 days ago #

Aw, now I gots to go edit and republish! ;)

Kevin » 4059 days ago #

title attribute? Still not right. Try “element”.

Nathan Smith » 4049 days ago #

I agree with Kevin. The title attribute is:

< foobar title=”...” />

- while the title tag refers to:

< title>...< /title>

- The sum total of which is the element (which is also a car).

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