The implication here is that every blog post and every side bar box is an equally important sub-section of the whole page. So based on headings alone, blog posts are not distinct from side bars, and my blog roll categories are not distinct from other side bar boxes. However I use other mark-up for this purpose – blog posts are contained in the their own list, as is the blog roll – so what’s the problem?
Well there isn’t really a problem as the document is still quite well structured, but better use of headings could be useful. Headings can be used for automatic generation of tables of contents (there is already a Mozilla sidebar which does this); they are used by JAWS to quickly navigate through a document; and headings are used by Google in its ranking algorithms.
So it seems my home page structure could be more useful by changing all the h2s to h3s and adding in a couple of sub-headings:
Which brings up a question asked by Andy Budd: does it make sense to write a complete structured document only to then hide some of the content? That would be my case with the afore-mentioned structure: I already hide the h1 (it’s there for Google’s benefit) and I would also hide the new h2s. Given the reliance on headings to determine document structure, a few hidden ones to help add clarity would not be a bad thing.
That we’re having this discussion at all is due to the origins of HTML. It was originally conceived as a way of marking up scientific documents with a conventional heading, sub-heading, sub-sub-heading structure. Nowadays we are trying to apply the same methodology to more mature, hypertextually complex Web pages which, visually and functionally are somewhat different to academic papers.