HTML Page Titles & Usability

Posted on November 29, 2006


Here's a screenshot of my surfing history at They use the following schema for page titles:

Royalty free stock images | {pagetitle} |

Which results in the information that's important for the user being hidden.

I know what site I've been on for the last twenty minutes, and I know what they offer. I just want to get back to the main search results page I was on five minutes ago! For a site like iStockphoto, usability should be paramount.

I usually build titles working up through the site structure, for example:

Title of this page  <  Section of the Website  <  Name of the Website

That way the user should at least see the page title (which of course must change from page to page - it's even worse having just a company name as the title of every page), and the name of the website. If the user is searching for your site in the list of pages she looked at yesterday, she's got a much better chance of coming back to your site.

Note: Firefox shows the whole page title in the window history (pulldown when clicking the back button), but cuts off more than Safari in the main History menu.

Comments (3)

Francisco said

Very good article.
I really, never thought about it and it is truth, the most important information, is the one one than generally not seen.


Posted by: Francisco at December 8, 2006 11:10 PM .

bsn said

are comments working again?

Posted by: bsn at December 18, 2006 06:20 PM .

Riddle said

I totally agree with you. People usually do that to ditinguish their site from others* or place them higher in search engines.

I see it this way - when people like my site because it is made to suit their needs, sooner or later I will be high in Google. Without fighting with usability.

* as if anybody cares. people click blazingly through the web and they don't have time to examine every page in details.

Posted by: Riddle at December 18, 2006 07:17 PM .