On the efficiency of keyboard navigation in Web sites


An efficient keyboard access to Web sites is highly important for many groups of disabled users. However, the current design of most Web sites makes the efficient keyboard navigation nearly impossible. This paper investigates the performance of the keyboard and mouse navigation in Web pages. The comparison is based on the theoretical arguments and on two small studies. The results show that the current amount of keyboard support in common Web sites is far from being sufficient. Typical problems concerning keyboard support in Web sites are discussed, along with possible solutions and the related constraints.

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  1. 1.

    How often a user locates the current cursor position in a concrete page depends on several factors. For example, the visibility of the cursor position in the page (which is influenced by the actual background color of the page). Another example is the knowledge of the user about the page structure. If a user visits a page regularly and is thus familiar with its structure, he or she will be able to perform a huge number of Tab presses without the necessity to locate the cursor position, i.e., the value for r will be quite high in this situation.

  2. 2.

    Some of the selected highly accessible sites supported keyboard access by page internal navigation links and keyboard shortcuts, which allow the user to set the cursor focus to special areas of the screen. In addition, they organized their content, in general, in a hierarchical structure, which restricted the number of links per page.

  3. 3.

    The page which contains the dynamic shortcuts was also used for the condition in which the participants navigated using the mouse. If the user does not enter the page with the TAB key, the dynamic shortcuts stay invisible and are thus not disturbing. For the condition in which the users had to navigate using the TAB chain, the same page was used, but the dynamic behavior was disabled.


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Correspondence to Martin Schrepp.

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Schrepp, M. On the efficiency of keyboard navigation in Web sites. Univ Access Inf Soc 5, 180–188 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10209-006-0036-x

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  • Accessibility
  • Universal design
  • Web sites
  • Keyboard navigation