I'm working on a webapp/site that allows users to sign up to training courses that is aimed at the construction industry.

The main users of the website are self employed tradesman and office admins who will be booking staff onto training on their behalf.

The search input on the site has autocomplete functionality and I want to know if it's necessary to allow users to cycle through the suggested results using their up and down arrow keys and hitting enter to select that result?

I feel like the majority of on site tradesmen will be using handheld devices and that office admins will likely use their mouse rather than using shortcuts and the arrow keys - meaning that it's potentially unnecessary.

Is there any evidence out there that suggests it's worth having this functionality enabled?


1 Answer 1


Is there evidence that it's worth enabling keyboard functionality?

Yes. It's called Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1.

WCAG 2.1 Success Criteria 2.1.1 states:

2.1.1 Keyboard: All functionality of the content is operable through a keyboard interface without requiring specific timings for individual keystrokes, except where the underlying function requires input that depends on the path of the user's movement and not just the endpoints. (Level A)

That is LEVEL A. Meaning it's the bare minimum level of compliance you should be aiming for. Most websites / applications aim for the next level up Level AA (and some even go for AAA, but that's much less common).

So basically, if you want to be accessibility compliant - meaning that the largest possible audience of users can user your application, and also that you don't get sued for breaching disability discrimination laws - then you should absolutely be making the site usable via keyboard.

  • Thank you for the links - i will definitely have a look at those resources.The user would still be able to use the keyboard to navigate around the site as usual. I'm not suggesting that I turn off keyboard functionality all together. Mar 25, 2019 at 15:19
  • @NeilCarpenter It's more that the user should be able to do everything with a keyboard. If the search results can only be navigated with the mouse then that's an issue, but if they can tab to the results then arrow up/down within them it's fine. Basically, if you can't use a mouse for whatever reason you should still be able to do everything the site offers (OK to do that in a different way to a mouse user, provided you can both do it).
    – JonW
    Mar 25, 2019 at 15:25
  • The auto suggested links would literally be an ordered list containing an anchors inside each list item so the user would be able to tab through the list without the need for a mouse. Sorry for the confusion with the original question. Mar 25, 2019 at 15:41

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