[html5] <nav> for external links?

Jacob Kristensen admin at blueboden.com
Sat Apr 30 14:24:17 PDT 2011

> Navigation links link to resources related to the whole page, right?
Not necessarily. Especially not in web pages, or applications.

The individual page may have multiple sections, which are independent of 
each other. In which case you likely want to include such potential "see 
also" links, in a footer placed as a child to the relevant section.

> What's your definition of a navigation link.
Navigation links that i would markup using nav, would basically be anything 
but in-content links.
If the links is a part of the content on the page, such as the "latest news" 
links on a front page of a news site, then i would limit the use of nav to 
site-section links. I.e. Sports, movies, tv, etc.

Another place where i wouldn't use nav, is for search results. I.e. 
Google/yahoo results page. And in the case of blogs, for the results on a 
"by tag" page.

> You could easily apply the above to more descendants of <head>. I'm
> not sure how to render empty elements such as <link> and <meta>,
> though.
Don't hold me to it, but I'm fairly sure that this is in fact an un-intended 
"feature" thing, which is allowed by browsers that support custom elements.

Normally unknown elements gets treated as empty span, if I'm not mistaken. 
What you are experiencing with the styling of title, is likely just an 
unintended side-effect of the possibility to declare your own elements using 
the display property.

There are several reasons why you wouldn't style the head. For one, what 
purpose should it serve? The support of link for anything but StyleSheets, 
is rather limited. And i already explained why you wouldn't want to include 
links in the head section. I also personally think its a waste of time to 
discuss, because i know the thinking which lies behind (seen it elsewhere), 
but this will have to do for now.

> Navigation links most likely shouldn't be placed "on a page", but
> provided out-of-band, or somehow differently from the main content of
> the page. An interactive widescreen rendering might render links to
> the right of the main content, with a separate scrolling mechanism (if
> needed). A small-screen (interactive, visual) rendering might provide
> the links only upon explicit request. The latter would also be
> appropriate for people like me who can't concentrate when their screen
> is full of information they don't need (ATM).

This is a very bad idea, since it would servilely limit the customization 
that web designers and developers have come to love in recent years. There 
would be a lot of angry designers, asking why you stole their navigation 

Another problem you would have to deal with, is the multitude of different 
layout techniques in use. Removing a navigation column from a website, would 
in many cases tilt the rendering, and might even make the site unusable in 
rare cases.

It may have its use for static documents however. Where the rendering is 
less important to the designer.

Jacob Kristensen

More information about the Help mailing list