Internet Marketing Tips, Suggestions, & Ramblings

Drop Down Menus & the Visually Impaired

Making sure a website has search engine friendly navigation is a top priority for savvy web developers and optimizers. Developers usually consider three things when creating a drop down navigation menu: Does it look good? Does it work correctly? And is it SEO friendly (can search engine spiders crawl the links)?  Well, here is a fourth thing to consider before deciding to implement a particular menu solution: Web Accessibility –  Is it accessible to the visually impaired?

There are a lot of SEO friendly menu solutions out there, from basic CSS based menus that simply show the sub-menu links when the user mouses over a top level link, to fancy JavaScript driven menu solutions that show the sub-menu links by doing all kinds of animation effects such as sliding, fading, and re-sizing. Most menus are fine for SEO as long as the CSS/JavaScript acts on regular HTML links that the search engines can crawl. However, very few menus are created with visually impaired users in mind, so it is important to research and choose a menu solution carefully.

To ensure that a menu is accessible to the visually impaired, you want to avoid using “display:none” or “visibility:hidden“ to initially hide sub-menu links. Whatever is contained in elements that have either of these two CSS properties applied to them will be ignored by screen reading software with the logic being that if visual users don’t get to see those links, why should they be read to non-visual users? The flaw there is that visual users have a way of accessing those links by hovering over the menu, and visually impaired users don’t. The solution is to use a menu (PS: Hint Hint – SEO Inc can implement this!) that initially positions the sub-menu items off the page, and then back on the page when the menu is activated. That way screen reading software won’t get tripped up, and will read all the links in the menu to visually impaired users.

About Garry Grant

Garry Grant is a veteran expert in search engine optimization and the digital marketing industry. With nearly 20 years of experience, Garry has successfully built a multi-service operation at SEO, Inc., developing proprietary technologies through complex strategic solutions. He has extensive experience in key initiatives and operational responsibilities grounded in information technology and performance management.

Garry’s expertise and esteemed reputation, coupled with SEO Inc.’s impressive client success record has earned him such accolades as Entrepreneur Magazine's 2005 Hot List for the Hottest Internet Property, Inc. 500 2007 Honorary award for Fastest Growing Private Company in America, an Inc. 500 top 50 Company in San Diego, and interviews with The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, WIRED, Entrepreneur and The Huffington Post.

Garry Grant began his online career in 1993 creating strategic Web and e-business solutions for Homepage.com, The Rush Limbaugh Show, Premiere Radio Networks, Clear Channel Communications, EarthLink and Artisan Motion Pictures. Today, Garry and SEO Inc.’s highly skilled digital strategists develop proprietary technology and strategic digital marketing direction for Fortune 500 companies including, SC Johnson, McAfee, Entrepreneur.com., Inc Magazine, IGN, Tacorri, LPL Financial, National Kidney Foundation, G4 TV, Fuel TV and Sony, just to name a few.