Once upon a time, I was a web designer. I ran my own business from 2010 to 2017.
I kept saying – and drove Italian developer dudes nuts – that WordPress was like Word in terms of text editing. Of course, that is not true: WordPress is a content management system, and it lives online, but by saying that, I was making things easier for users.
The majority of end-users couldn’t care less about what’s under the hood. But for search engines and screen readers, HTML is very important.
How do you make these realities coexist?
I believe it’s our responsibility, as suppliers of web-related services, to educate users about how to use the software in a way they care. Educate and empower.
Instead of being all high and mighty and start a navel-gazing monologue about semantic HTML, I suggest we keep it simple:
- WordPress, for its end-users, is just another way to push content into The Web. Period.
- Each part of the content means something. So you have paragraphs for, well, paragraphs lists for lists, and images for images.
- Headings are used for titles and subtitles. They go from 1 to 6. That order is hierarchical and it must be used like that.
- Heading 1 rules them all. So you have only one, you know, like the one ring.
- A user that prefers how
H4looks on screen will use that instead of the others, so make sure you tell them that headings are hierarchical and work with them, not against them, to find a
font-familythat they like and that you, as a professional, know it’s a good match.
When I was freelancing, I saw a website that was all written in H4s instead of paragraphs because the owner “liked it better.” Was that their fault? No.
The WordPress dashboard and other screens are littered with notifications: maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to show a modal that educates users about headings? I have no clue if that is doable and it can be accessible. So in the meantime, spread the word and make it simple.