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Page title versus Call to action: who wins?

Off-site comment of the moment:

An IxDA member posted a question about whether or not the header of a page should take precedence over the primary call to action. My response is below. Essentially, I believe the very act of forcing a choice between the two is a mistake.

Re: [IxDA Discuss] Visual Importance of Page Titles
Tue, 24 Feb 2009 13:52:37

I think you can, and should, have both. The page title can be obvious and clear to the user, while there can also be a clear call to action (your marketing splash). Your title is not only the description of the page’s content, it’s part of the navigational scent of the site, and as such is can’t be left out. This in no way stops you from having a clear “center” to the page’s content. In fact, having a primary focus to your content is better than scattering the focus.

If marketing wants to leave the title off completely, that’s a problem not only in usability but in SEO. There’s a reason the H1 tags are important to search engines – they’re important to users! And as search engines overcome the Heisenbergian issue of depth of analysis vs breadth of pages, things like semantically sound page construction will become even more important.

Alex

P.S. As an aside, I would recommend trying to eliminate either-or questions in design. Frequently there are many choices, not just two, and in the few cases where their truly are only two options, the attempt to find more will be the exception that proves the rule. :–) The tyranny of dichotomy limits much more than it resolves.

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