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View Poll Results: Your view on the ALT attribute!

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  • I don't know what it is

    2 0.94%
  • I know what it is but I don't use it

    29 13.62%
  • I use it but for my own purposes (i.e misuse of ALT for search engine optimisation)

    11 5.16%
  • I am very aware of its use and I try and use it appropriately and as sensibly as possible

    171 80.28%
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  1. #1
    Don't get too close, I bite! Nicky's Avatar
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    I am working on a paper about the use of the ALT tag. I would really appreciate input from as many of you as possible as I am hoping to quote numbers in my paper. This is a reviewed paper for a very prominent Human Computer Interaction conference, so I really need your help.

    The paper is concerned with the appropriate use of the ALT tag.

    * Do you all use it?
    * Or do you even know what it is?
    * Do you misuse it?
    * Is it important to you?

    Please complete the poll and leave your comments! If you feel the poll is incomplete I would also appreciate feedback.
    Last edited by Nicky; Apr 22, 2001 at 15:43.

  2. #2
    Irritability Defined
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    From my point of view the ALT tag is useful for any surfers who may decide to surf with images switched off (for speed/accessibility purposes); however if the images are tiny and inconsequential (like an invisible spacer or similar) then I just leave the ALT="" (apostrophes) blank, as any description you put in (which is rendered to text) is 95% more likely to be bigger than the actual image itself (which then wrecks the layout of your page).
    My 2 Cents (or is that 2.2 Cents including GST?)

  3. #3
    I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaack! Fluffykins's Avatar
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    I've opted for the last option.

    As far as I see it, the ALT tag serves two purposes for me. I do use it for search engine optimisation, but try to give all my important images ALT attributes so the site can be navigated and interpretted properly on text only browsers. I tend only to use it on images that I'm using as hyperlinks, and not on images that only serve to improve the aesthetics of the page but don't affect the functionality.

    At least, I assume I'm using it properly by doing that! I'm not an expert on HCI just yet

    Ady
    v-technologies - Freelance Goodness.

  4. #4
    Don't get too close, I bite! Nicky's Avatar
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    You are working towards the right direction. However, according to the Royal National Institute for the Blind, when you have an image that does not require an ALT attribute, such as an image which you are using as a spacer, you should either use "." or "x" in the ALT.

  5. #5
    BoOm-Rocka! Smarky's Avatar
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    Well I use it on the main images for the site I am doing I.E the logo, where I have it as the sites punchline so this shows as a tooltip when the mouse is over the image and its also good for search engine ranking. other non imortant images that are just there for layout or design and not actual graphics I leave blank

    hope this helps somehow

    take care all
    Garlic bread, I've tasted it, it's the future

  6. #6
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy Karl's Avatar
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    Hi,

    I use it, for the correct purpose and the wrong purpose, but I do them together. I usually but something descriptive (As the ALT was meant for) in the first couple of words, then I put : and do my SE optimisation tricks.

    i.e.

    For a search button:

    alt="Click To Search: search for my top grade low cost widgets"

    Hope that helps you.
    Karl Austin :: Profile :: KDA Web Services Ltd.
    Business Web Hosting :: Managed Dedicated Hosting
    Call 0800 542 9764 today and ask how we can help your business grow.

  7. #7
    Don't get too close, I bite! Nicky's Avatar
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    Thanks a lot, this is really useful and I will quote you all in my paper. I would really appreciate it if you could get as many members as possible to come and vote as I really need statistics.

  8. #8
    SitePoint Co-founder Matt Mickiewicz's Avatar
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    We make minimal use of the ALT tag across SitePoint because it would further increase page load times. More so, most of the visitors to the site who we are trying to please have image loading turned on.
    Matt Mickiewicz - Co-Founder
    SitePoint.com - Empowering Web Developers Since 1997
    Follow me on Twitter.

  9. #9
    SitePoint Addict Drinky's Avatar
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    I usually use both ALT and the newer TITLE together.
    Drinky

  10. #10
    Don't get too close, I bite! Nicky's Avatar
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    Excellent, does anyone else use the TITLE attribute?

  11. #11
    SitePoint Addict Drinky's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Karl
    <font face="verdana, arial, helvetica" size="2" class="mfont">Hi,

    I use it, for the correct purpose and the wrong purpose, but I do them together. I usually but something descriptive (As the ALT was meant for) in the first couple of words, then I put : and do my SE optimisation tricks.

    i.e.

    For a search button:

    alt="Click To Search: search for my top grade low cost widgets"

    Hope that helps you.</font>
    you could do this:

    Code:
    <img src="search.jpg" alt="Search" title="Click To Search: search for my top grade low cost widgets">
    Last edited by Drinky; Apr 22, 2001 at 17:07.
    Drinky

  12. #12
    SitePoint Addict Drinky's Avatar
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    mmm seems to be a bug with the quoting...
    Drinky

  13. #13
    SitePoint Zealot Lorina's Avatar
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    I try to use it as much as possible. In other words... I'm human and sometimes I forget. On clients' sites, I always use them, but I'm not as disciplined when working on personal home pages.
    Cheese-N-Rice - A daily comic strip.

  14. #14
    One website at a time mmj's Avatar
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    I use the ALT tag in all the traditional ways...

    It is important for accessibility as well as for modem users who see a placeholder as the image downloads.

    I use it to describe in words what the image is about, or to give information to users who cannot see the images. It may help search engines, but only because the descriptions I put in there are relevant and meaningful.

    You might like to view the ALT tags on my site. I don't claim to be the expert by any means
    [mmj] My magic jigsaw
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  15. #15
    Don't get too close, I bite! Nicky's Avatar
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    Does anyone validate their websites with an Accessbility Checker such as Bobby? This would pick up any missing ALT attributes!

  16. #16
    Misfit
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    I use ALT tabs whenever I remember too. Bobby, and other validators, was what actually got me using the ALT tag. It showed me that it was really important to a select audience - an audience that could be potential buyers.

  17. #17
    SitePoint Zealot
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    Originally posted by Matt Mickiewicz
    We make minimal use of the ALT tag across SitePoint because it would further increase page load times. More so, most of the visitors to the site who we are trying to please have image loading turned on.
    I don't think that the 15 or 20 bytes that each ALT tag takes up will make much of a difference on load times. Also, all the advantages to using them, including accessibility and search engine optimization vastly outweigh this one disadvantage.

    Jason Weinstein
    webmaster@MaximumEdge.com
    http://www.MaximumEdge.com/

  18. #18
    Don't get too close, I bite! Nicky's Avatar
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    Maybe we can petition SitePoint?

    Guys, thanks for all your help up to now! We already have 17 votes. I think I should be able to use numbers (rather than percentages which are not classed as scientific) if we can get at least 50 votes.

    This is a worthwhile topic that everyone should be aware of, so please please get as many people to partake of this research as possible. If my paper gets accepted you will be able to see it published in a journal and conference proceedings.

    By the way if anyone does not agree with the ALT attribute, or does not quite fully understand why we should all be using it on our webiste, then read my article published on SitePoint about Internet Accessibility.

  19. #19
    Kat's Meow Senior ******* WebKat's Avatar
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    I have always realized the importance of the <alt> tags but originally it was only for my use. As I was scrolling around the web page I would read the additional information whenever my mouse passed over something. Never realizing that many view web pages with the image off due either to choice or necessity.

    When I first started I used Homestead.com which didn't give me the capability to add anything to the HEAD area, including META, TITLE tags, etc. Now they do but you have to go back page to each individual page to update each element with the <alt> text. With the amount of people currently using Homestead as their web editor I'm sure that there are many websites out there that haven't been updated since this change Including mine......I don't utilize Homestead.com as before and only updated the <alt> tags if I happened to be doing something on a particular page.

    I used all the online validators {including Bobby.org} but the limits of the Homestead editor that I was using at the time limited me from being able to add any other information that was either necessary or required. Early on I was notorious for viewing page sources and could see what was needed. I would see tags that I wasn't familiar with, read more about them and try to incorporate them into Homestead. When I found the limitations, that is when I moved into learning Dreamweaver.

    Now when using Dreamweaver I make a point including <alt> text and any others, whether required or not.....WebKat
    Dlynn :: SitePoint Senior Advisor ::
    PawPrint Designs by WebKat
    "Dogs come when they're called; Cats take a message and get back to you later." ~ Mary Bly

  20. #20
    Sports Publisher mjames's Avatar
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    I use the ALt attribute on my site on the majority of my images because:

    1) improves search engines keywords and results
    2) some people have images turned off or are blind, this helps them

    It doesn't hurt it to have it, so I just include it with my images.

  21. #21
    SitePoint Wizard
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    I do try to use it all the time now in the 'proper' way, ie not to improve search engine results. I actually only started using it every time fairly recently because I believe it is required to comply with HTML 4.

  22. #22
    The Hiding One lynlimz's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Nicky
    <font face="verdana, arial, helvetica" size="2" class="mfont">You are working towards the right direction. However, according to the Royal National Institute for the Blind, when you have an image that does not require an ALT attribute, such as an image which you are using as a spacer, you should either use "." or "x" in the ALT.</font>
    Hi,

    I use ALT Tags, TITLE and Accesskeys for useraccessibility.
    For images like spaces and others which require no definition, i leave it blank. alt=""

    I don't see a need to put a '.' or' 'x' in them.
    maybe someone can explina more. for one. since its of no practical reason to even include a description, why the need to put a . or x and confuse the user? these are unnecessary and should be left empty.

    Originally posted by Nicky
    <font face="verdana, arial, helvetica" size="2" class="mfont">Does anyone validate their websites with an Accessbility Checker such as Bobby? This would pick up any missing ALT attributes!</font>
    Hey, thanks for the uRL nicky. I'll take note..but grr..produced alot of errors! ha!

    actually, if you too want to check and make sure all your images have the alt="" attribute, just use the w3c validator at http://validator.w3.org and it'll check for such missing tags too.

    With reference to the vote, I make a selection for option 4.
    "Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world."
    -- Albert Einstein

  23. #23
    midnight coder
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    I use alt tags in all the images, and title on the main text links, like:

    <a href="page.php" title="Let's see what we can offer">Product</a>

  24. #24
    Irritability Defined
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    Originally posted by lynlimz
    I use ALT Tags, TITLE and Accesskeys for useraccessibility.
    For images like spaces and others which require no definition, i leave it blank. alt=""

    I don't see a need to put a '.' or' 'x' in them.
    maybe someone can explina more. for one. since its of no practical reason to even include a description, why the need to put a . or x and confuse the user? these are unnecessary and should be left empty.</font>
    Excellent point. I know that the majority of surfers who are able-bodied/eyed/etc. (i.e. don't really have a need for accessibility features) are totally unaware of this requirement, or at the very least, get confused as to why there is a '.' or 'x' before the images are fully downloaded.

    I also forgot to mention titles - they are an extremely useful HTML feature and I use it with great frequency.
    My 2 Cents (or is that 2.2 Cents including GST?)

  25. #25
    The Hiding One lynlimz's Avatar
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    Yes. I make it a post to use titles to add more description to links on my navigational table. since i tend to keep the words straight to the point.
    "Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world."
    -- Albert Einstein


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