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Upon reading the "Navigation" chapter of Don't Make Me Think, I saw the point 'The name needs to match what I clicked.'

Obviously, this is a book of guidelines and is not law, but I'm confused about the situation when using a Call-To-Action button as a form of navigation to a new page. The CTA should normally be an imperative verb phrase, but having a title of a page being a verb doesn't make much sense. The page title should be a noun.

Would one just use a noun form of the verb phrase for the page title?

Example:

Button Text: "Map Streams"

Page Title: "Stream Mapping"

Edit: I feel the difference is obvious enough to be warranted, but I'd like to have the opinions of others.

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  • Buttons are for actions though, not navigation (well, traditionally speaking anyway).
    – JonW
    Mar 2, 2015 at 15:22
  • Maybe traditionally, but tradition is not the end-all anymore. Look at this page, for instance. We do have a button next to the comment box saying "Add Comment" - this is an action that does not navigate, as you say. However, if you look at the top right of the page, there is a button that says "Ask Question". That does navigate to a new page where you can ask a question (This page does not have a title, however). Mar 2, 2015 at 15:25

3 Answers 3

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I don't necessarily see an issue with a page title being a verb phrase, if it accurately describes what's happening. The example given in the question ("Map Streams") seems perfectly valid to me.

That said, I can think of other examples where it would not be logical for the page title to match the referring call-to-action. If I press a "Go to checkout" button, I would expect the resulting page title to be "Checkout" and not "Go to checkout".

The spirit of the guideline is simply that the title of a page should provide reassuring feedback that the user has arrived at the right place.

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  • Well to be pedantic here, 'Checkout' is the noun, as in the place where you pay. Whereas 'check out' is the verb - you are completing a 'check out'. So you check out at the checkout.
    – JonW
    Mar 2, 2015 at 15:39
  • @JonW That was my point. I would expect the title of the checkout to be the noun.
    – Matt Obee
    Mar 2, 2015 at 15:42
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Link labels that match page titles are a clear navigation cue for users. However, page titles are often longer than what can be used in a navigation set. In that case, I try to use at least one of the key words from the page title in the link label. You have a bit more space in buttons and CTAs to be descriptive, but you should always tell the user what to expect when she follows a link. NNG goes into a bit more detail in A Link is a Promise.

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After some looking around (thanks @RobC), it seems the generally accepted idea is that navigation link texts should convey the same or similar text to the page title text so that users can confirm that they have arrived at the correct page.

Sources:

Having the link and the title agree, or be very similar, is good practice and provides continuity between the link 'clicked on' and the web page that the user lands on.

Page Titled (Level A) - WCGAG 2.1

When it comes to link text the W3C says, clearly identify the target of each link.

Links and accessibility - AccessibilityOz

Make the page title match the top heading (ideally labelled as h1) on your page. These don’t need to be identical, but it often makes sense to make them very similar, since the title and h1 elements serve essentially the same purpose.

Documents must contain a title element to aid in navigation - Deque University

A link on a website says Products & services but opens a registration page instead. These damaged promises make a person feel baited, annoyed, disrespected, disappointed, and duped. In short, nothing good. On the other hand, when a link does fulfill what it professes, people move through the site seamlessly and confidently.

A Link is a Promise - Nielsen Norman Group

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