SC Shortname: Clear Purpose

SC Text

The main purpose of each page and section of content is clear. Extraneous information that is not directly relevant to the main purpose of a page is distinctly separated and programmatically determinable. For multi step tasks, signposts should be provided to clarify the broader context including steps completed, current step and steps pending.

Suggestion for Priority Level: (A)

Related Glossary additions or changes


What Principle and Guideline the SC falls within.

Principle 3, Guideline 3.1 'Readable'


Each page or section of content should be organised and marked so that it's purpose is obvious. This might be through the use of headings or labels or even a pyramid style of writing or even non textual markers (with suitable alternatives). A clear organisation of content into pages and sections with obvious purpose alows users to more easily locate relevent sections and to be confident that those they read in detail will match their purposes. There will also be no need to read all content in case something important is missed. For example, Ads that appear in-line in a section of content are rarely related to the purpose of a section and can be placed in a separate clearly delimited section

Here are some examples of how this will help people:

  • someone with dementia loses focus and then can not remember what they were doing
  • someone with an attention disability gets distracted and then needs to pick up were they left off
  • someone with a learning disability is not sure if this application has too many steps and if they will manage. By seeing they are half way though they can guage if they can cope with the entire process.


Being able to determine the purpose of a section without reading the entire content benefits all users. Those with cognitive disabilities will particulary benefit from an obvious top level structure with clear signposting. Users will be able to confidently locate the information they require and ignore content that is of limited interest to them. There will little need for repeated page navigation or detailed scanning of large qualities of text.
This Success Criteron helps a wide range of people with differing congnitive disabilities including people with:

  • Language related disabilities
  • Memory related disabilities
  • Disabilities that effect executive function an decision making
  • Focus and attention related disabilities

Related Resources (optional)

Resources are for information purposes only, no endorsement implied.

Example links


Procedure ideas

  1. Ensure by inspection that each page and subsection has an obvious declaration of its purpose that can be found without reading the entire content. If this fails ask "what is this content for?". If 9 out of 10 people who have not seen the content before gives the same substantive answer, then it is clear.
  2. Ensure each section of a page has an obvious relationship to the page unless it's purpose is extraneous; in which case that should also be obvious and marked in an element or role that clarifies that
  3. Ensure that the method of indicating the purpose of a page or section is obvious to all users, regardless mode of accessing the content.
  4. Ensure that each section that represents a step in a multi-step process contains signposting to context and current postion in the process.


  • Semantic Headings are an excellent way to describe the purpose of each page or section and are easy to distinguish from the main content. This works both visually and via Assistive Technology.
  • Sections and Landmarks can be used to organise the page material and clearly seperate side topics.

working groups notes (optional)