Page - Page title - Page title fails to update after a dynamic content change

What the issue is

An often overlooked accessibility issue is when the page title fails to update after a dynamic content change. This occurs primarily in single-page applications (SPAs) or in any web page where content updates dynamically without a full page reload. When users navigate through different content sections or complete actions that significantly change the page context (such as submitting a form), if the page title does not reflect these changes, it can cause confusion and disorientation, particularly for users depending on assistive technologies.

Why this is important

Updating the page title to reflect the current state or context of the page is critical for users who rely on screen readers to understand the current focus or context of their browsing. Without accurate titles that change to indicate new content or contexts, users may not realize that the content has changed, leading to frustration and a decreased ability to navigate and use the website effectively. This is especially crucial in applications or websites where content changes dynamically without traditional page reloads.

Who it affects

This issue affects:

  1. Users of screen readers or other assistive technologies who depend on updated page titles to understand the current page context.
  2. Individuals with cognitive disabilities who rely on clear and descriptive titles to orient themselves within a dynamically changing website.
  3. Users navigating a website through keyboard shortcuts, as they may rely on the page title to confirm their current position within the site.

How to remediate the issue

  1. Implement a mechanism to dynamically update the page title using JavaScript or a framework-specific method whenever the main content of the page changes or a significant action is completed.
  2. Ensure that if the page is an SPA, the page title correctly reflects the currently "visible" page.
  3. Ensure that the new title accurately describes the new content or context, helping users understand they have navigated or the content has been updated.
  4. Test with assistive technologies to ensure that the dynamic updates of the page title are announced appropriately, allowing users to stay oriented.

Guidance on managing dynamic updates to content, including page titles, can be found at WAI-ARIA Authoring Practices on Dynamic Content Updates.