The user's focus is directed to new content added to the page

Whenever new content is added to a page, try to ensure the user's focus gets directed to that content, so they can take action on it.

How to manually test

Single-page apps are important to test, especially when it comes to managing a user's focus to new content.

Typically, in a single-page app, clicking on a link won't cause a hard refresh. Instead, a route change fetches new data for the <main> content area.

For sighted users, this works fine. But users navigating with a screen reader or other assistive technology may not know that the new content has been added to the page. There's no indication that they should navigate back to the <main> area.

When this happens, you'll want to manage the user's focus to keep the user's perceived context in sync with the site's visual content.

How to fix

To manage a user's focus to fresh content on a page, find a good heading in the newly loaded content and direct focus to it. The easiest way to pull this off is to give the heading a tabindex of -1 and call its focus() method:

  <h2 tabindex="-1">Welcome to your shopping cart</h2>
  // Assuming this gets called every time new content loads...
  function onNewPage() {
    var heading = document.querySelector('h2');
    // You can also update the page title :)
    document.title = heading.textContent;

Assistive technologies announce the new heading and the main landmark area that it's contained in.

See also Managing focus for accessibility.


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