Why your ‘Skip to Content’ link might not work

January 31st, 2012

Did you know that a skip link in Chrome or Safari cannot work properly without using JavaScript?

I stumbled onto this factoid today and I was pretty stunned. I’d just assumed all the techniques for implementing skip-links (posted online and in various books) would work as written.

But it turns out that if yours aren’t working, it might not really be anything you did wrong (though it sort of is, because as a web developer you probably realize you are responsible for knowing exactly how every rule and behaviour works in every browser still being used). The real culprit is Webkit. (webkit is the engine that Chrome and Safari are both built on).

Here’s a bug report about the issue that was submitted 4 years ago. Nothing has been done to address it.

What’s most concerning is that this doesn’t seem to be common knowledge in the web design community and most solutions for skip-links posted online don’t realize this particular limitation of webkit browsers. As a result, thousands of pages that were built to be accessible are very likely not functioning properly for 33% of users (Safari and Chrome’s combined browser share, and that’s not even including mobile traffic). That’s a big problem.  Let me explain a bit about accessibility, skip-links, this particular problem, and what you can do to help. Read the rest of this entry »