Create Page Titles and Headers that Support a Good User Experience

August 9, 2016
emily amos

Page titles and headers will play a big role in your users’ experience. Why?

Page titles and headers help users quickly determine if your content has the information they are looking for. Good page titles and headers will help users understand the topic of your content, determine the context and see if it’s worth their while to continue reading.

Create useful, engaging page titles and headers by following these four helpful tips:

  1. Describe
  2. Contextualize
  3. Simplify
  4. Be concise
  1. Describe the subject of your content

Page titles, headers and subheaders should accurately describe your page overall. I recommend using headers and subheaders throughout your content because they allow your users to scan for exactly the information they are looking for—and they break up larger chunks of text into more manageable bites.

Example for university study abroad page

Okay page title or header: Information on Going Abroad
Better page title or header: Apply to Study Abroad

The first isn’t clear what kind of information your users would get if they clicked, but the second specifies that it is application-related information.

  1. Is it relevant? In other words, contextualize

You should make sure your page title and header are relevant to your audience. To do this, you have to provide sufficient context so users know if the content is right for them.

Users aren’t always going to enter your website through the home page or a key landing page. They could land on almost any page through a search result. Regardless of the page users land on, the page title and headers should give enough context that they understand what you are talking about and whether this information is for them.

Example for organization looking for volunteers

Okay header example: Amazing opportunity to help others
Better header example:
Volunteer as a student doctor to help children in Mali

The second example provides credible, precise information about the information the user can expect to find.

  1. Simplify it all

The last tip is to be as straightforward as you can. Using simple, clear words makes it easier for your users to scan and see what content suits them.

Sometimes people like to use idioms or metaphors within their titles too, but be careful. While it has the potential to make you seem witty and relatable, it also forces users to work harder to understand—something you want to avoid at all costs.

Example for government page on healthcare

Okay page title example: Providing end-of-life care to patients: Critical care nurses’ perceived obstacles and supportive behaviours
Better page title example:
Nurses’ role in providing end-of-life care

The second is much simpler for the user to quickly scan and digest, while still getting the gist across.

  1. Keep it concise for search engine optimization (SEO)

Page titles need to be fairly short because most search engines show a maximum of 65 characters for page titles in the search results. And by following the three tips above, you will have clear, descriptive titles which will lead to more traffic and improved search rankings.

Example for a college of registered nurses

Okay page title: You can renew your RN licence or your NP licence
Better page title: Renew your licence

The second works better because it’s clear and concise. Remember that you can use the meta description and the first paragraph on the page itself to provide a bit more context.

5 additional tips for great page titles and headers

  1. Communicate the benefits: People love to know what’s in it for them right from the get-go.
  2. Use numbers: Users love to know facts!
  3. Take risks: Take a bit of a risk with your titles and headers to grab attention.
  4. Use questions: People love questions in titles because it might be something they’re asking themselves.
  5. How to do something: Titles including “how to” are very popular and easy to use.

It looks tough…

But it’s really not. Creating the right page titles and headers can be intimidating because you know it’s the first thing users will see when viewing your content. But, if you describe, contextualize, simplify and condense, you should be on the right track for success.

What tips do you use when you create your page titles and headers?

Download our FREE checklist: Web Content Evaluation ChecklistThis checklist will help you determine whether your content is clear, compelling and concise

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