Add a visual “you are here”

Black boots standing on the ground in a painted circle with stenciled words: You Are Here

You are here indicators help orient people as they explore a website. Yet “many websites need stronger location indicators” 1. People feel lost when looking at navigation menus that all appear similar. In navigation menus, the current page should appear distinct from all other menu items. In this post, I describe a visual you are here signal for the current page in local navigation menus.

Shown below left is how menus appeared in Single Digital Presence. Many Victorian government websites use the Single Digital Presence platform. I proposed adding an underline to the current page menu item. It would visually distinguish a you-are-here signal because all other menu items have no text decoration.

Without versus with a visual you are here indicator for the current page item in a navigation menu.
Navigation menu without versus with an underline for the current page indicator

CSS to show you are here #

The CSS I put forward:

.rpl-section-menu [aria-current] {
  text-decoration: underline;

In the design system, the unique menu item link already has the aria-current attribute. Screen readers should announce this link as the current page in the navigation. Yet sighted people need the current page link styled to differentiate it.

To implement this improvement, I collaborated with colleagues working on the Single Digital Presence platform. They added my recommendation to the backlog, prioritised it, and implemented it.

Now that the current page menu item is distinct, sighted users will feel less lost. This solution was rolled into navigation menus in the Ripple Design System. This means all centrally hosted websites immediately gain the improvement. In time, independent websites may upgrade to reap the benefits too.

My first contribution to the design system improves navigation experiences. Adding a visual indicator was grounded in the inclusive design principle of providing a comparable experience. Both screen reader users and sighted users now have a current page indicator. These help people orient themselves when visiting a website. Not feeling lost is a significant improvement to site navigation.

Footnotes #

  1. Navigation: You Are Here,

1 comment

  1. Ensure #anchor fragments are ignored by whatever backend technology generates your aria-current=page for the navigation menu link. Otherwise the attribute will not be generated and users will be lost in a menu of links.

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