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Promos

A promo is a snippet of content which links to a full piece of content elsewhere on the BBC site or app.

Version:
0.1.0
Status:
Draft

Introduction

The Promo component is used to advertise BBC content. Principally it is a link to that content, but it can include a combination of supporting content to draw the reader's attention, such as media, data, and information about the content's author.

The full range of supporting Promo content is outlined on the GEL Promo page.

Content properties

A Promo can be made up of different content, giving us the flexibility to communicate the right message. Below is a list of the content properties covered in this document.

Property Description
Headline Text that uniquely describes the target content.
Image An image promoting the target content.
Media indication Information about the media being promoted.
Description A short description of the target content.
Metadata See the Metadata strip component.

Promos can appear individually or in groups. In either case, they should be marked up inside an <aside> (complementary landmark[1]). This marks the Promo(s) out as being tangential; they break away from the host page's main content to suggest complementary reading or resources.

<aside aria-labelledby="unique-promo-label">
  <span id="unique-promo-label" hidden>Related programmes</span>
  <!-- promo(s) here -->
</aside>

Note the labeling mechanism. Complementary landmarks are discoverable by screen reader users through browsing, or perusing aggregated landmark lists. The label identifies the specific purpose of the landmark. Suitable labels include "Related", "Read more", or "More like this".

In this case, the label is removed from the DOM with hidden because a visual label has been deemed unnecessary. This does not suppress the labeling mechanism; screen readers still announce "complementary, related programmes" or similar. Where appropriate, you can instead provide a visible label (by removing hidden). You can also use a heading, if you think it is beneficial for the promos to be considered part of the page's main structure and table of contents.

<aside aria-labelledby="unique-promo-label">
  <h2 id="unique-promo-label">Related programmes</h2>
  <!-- promo(s) here -->
</aside>

You must choose a heading level that is appropriate for the context[2]. For example, if the promos can be considered a child subsection of the page, use an <h2>.

  • Main heading (<h1>)
    • Subsection heading (<h2>)
    • Another subsection heading (<h2>)
    • Read more (<h2>) ← The Promo landmark

Groups of promos

A group of promos should be marked up as a list. This enables structural and navigational cues in screen reader software[3].

<aside aria-labelledby="unique-promo-label">
  <span class="gel-sr" id="unique-promo-label">More like this</span>
  <ul class="gel-promos">
    <li class="gel-promo">...</li>
    <li class="gel-promo">...</li>
    <li class="gel-promo">...</li>
    <li class="gel-promo">...</li>
  </ul>
</aside>

The promo itself

The most important thing to remember about Promo components is they have a single purpose: to promote another part of the BBC's services; a site, news story, television programme etc. Promos are differentiated from Cards in that they only have one piece of functionality: a link to the promoted content. If you intend to include functionality in situ, such as a video player, use a Card instead.

The Promo must contain a link as its main label (or 'headline'). The wording of this link should resemble that of the target page's <title> and <h1>. This consistency aids cognitive accessibility and improves SEO[4].

<div class="gel-promo">
  <div class="gel-promo__content">
    <a class="gel-promo__headline" href="path/to/content">University Challenge</a>
  </div>
</div>

Images

Frequently, an image is used to help promote the Promo's target content. This is the only content permitted before the link in the source.

<div class="gel-promo">
  <div class="gel-promo__image">
    <img src="path/to/image" alt="">
  </div>
  <div class="gel-promo__content">
    <a class="gel-promo__headline" href="path/to/content">University Challenge</a>
  </div>
</div>

The image may or may not contain alt text. If the headline and/or supporting text (where present) sufficiently describes the promoted content, and the image adds nothing salient, use alt="". If the image conveys important information missing from the Promo text, provide an appropriate value.

The image must not be inside its own link, whether it contains alt text or otherwise. This would represent an unnecessary and redundant keyboard tab stop.

Media indication

You can indicate information about the media being promoted, if relevant. This is the job of the class="gel-promo__indicator" element, found inside class="gel-promo__image".

<div class="gel-promo">
  <div class="gel-promo__image">
    <img src="path/to/image" alt="">
    <div class="gel-promo__indicator" aria-hidden="true">
      <svg class="gel-icon gel-icon--text" focusable="false">
        <use xlink:href="/gel/static/images/gel-icons-all.svg#gel-icon-play"></use>
      </svg>
      <span class="gel-promo__indicator-text">04:35</span>
    </div>
  </div>
  <div class="gel-promo__content">
    <a class="gel-promo__headline" href="path/to/content">
      University Challenge
      <span class="gel-sr">Video, 4 minutes and 35 seconds</span>
    </a>
  </div>
</div>

Importantly, the class="gel-promo__indicator" is hidden from assistive technologies with aria-hidden="true". This is because it would not make sense encountered before the headline. Append a readable version of the information in a visually hidden span after the main headline text ("Video, 4 minutes and 35 seconds" in the example).

Description

If present, the description (a couple of sentences; no more) should appear after the headline and before the metadata (see the following example). Media indication is omitted from the following example for brevity.

<div class="gel-promo">
  <div class="gel-promo__image">
    <img src="path/to/image" alt="">
  </div>
  <div class="gel-promo__content">
    <a class="gel-promo__headline" href="path/to/content">University Challenge</a>
    <p>It is the first of the semi-finals in the Christmas quiz for graduates.</p>
  </div>
</div>

Metadata

The Metadata strip is described as its own component. It provides metadata in key value pairs, using a description list (<dl>).

<div class="gel-promo">
  <div class="gel-promo__image">
    <img src="path/to/image" alt="">
  </div>
  <div class="gel-promo__content">
    <a class="gel-promo__headline" href="path/to/content">University Challenge</a>
    <p>It is the first of the semi-finals in the Christmas quiz for graduates.</p>
    <dl class="gel-metadata-strip">
      <div>
        <dt class="vh">Published:</dt>
        <dd>
          <span aria-hidden="true">
            <svg class="gel-icon gel-icon--text" focusable="false">
              <use xlink:href="path/to/gel-icons-all.svg#gel-icon-duration"></use>
            </svg>
            1m
          </span>
          <span class="vh">1 minute ago</span>
        </dd>
      </div>
      <div>
        <dt class="vh">From:</dt>
        <dd>
          <a href="link/to/category">UK</a>
        </dd>
      </div>
    </dl>
  </div>
</div>

A group of Promos in a set should share the same height. This is possible by making the parent (class="gel-promos"; <ul> if there are multiple Promos or a simple <div> if there is just one) a CSS Grid context. It's important there is a fallback, hence display: inline-block and max-width above the @supports block.

.gel-promos > * {
  display: inline-block;
  max-width: 266px;
}

@supports (display: grid) {
  .gel-promos {
    display: grid;
    grid-template-columns: repeat(auto-fill, minmax(266px, 1fr));
    grid-gap: 1rem;
  }
  
  .gel-promos > * {
    max-width: none;
  }
}

The appearance of each promo is improved by distributing the metadata (if present) to the bottom of the container. This is possible by making the Promo and its nested class="gel-promo__content" element Flexbox contexts and giving the metadata element margin-top: auto.

.gel-promo {
  display: flex;
  flex-direction: column;
}

.gel-promo__content {
  flex-grow: 1;
  display: flex;
  flex-direction: column;
}

.gel-promo__content .gel-metadata-strip {
  margin-top: auto;
}

The image

The image will need to fit the available space, regardless of the Promo's dimensions (which are likely to change across breakpoints) without distorting. This is possible by setting the desired height of the image box and using the object-fit property:

@supports (object-fit: cover) {
  .gel-promo__image img {
    width: 100%;
    object-fit: cover;
  }
}

Horizontal promos

In the Reference implementation, a horizontal configuration (with the image to the left of the text content) can be achieved by placing the gel-promo--horizontal class on the gel-promo element. This change's the element's flex-direction.

.gel-promo.gel-promo--horizontal {
  flex-wrap: wrap;
  flex-direction: row;
}

The flex-wrap: wrap declaration ensures the image is only placed to the side where there is room. The gel-promo__image and gel-promo__content elements are not permitted to become smaller than the 266px threshold of the vertical Promo counterparts. At this point, wrapping occurs and the horizontal Promo displays as a vertical one.

.gel-promo.gel-promo--horizontal .gel-promo__image {
  flex: 1;
  min-width: 266px;
}

.gel-promo.gel-promo--horizontal .gel-promo__content {
  flex: 999; /* Take up all but 266px where adjacent */
  min-width: 266px;
}

In a grid context, Promos with the class gel-promo--horizontal are directed to take up two columns of the grid wherever they are placed.

.gel-promo.gel-promo--horizontal {
  grid-column: span 2;
}

Focus styles

A text-decoration focus style is recommended for the headline link, paired with its hover style. To make focusing the card and its headline clearer, an additional :focus-within style can be added to the card itself.

.gel-promo__headline:hover,
.gel-promo__headline:focus {
  outline: none;
  text-decoration: underline;
}

.gel-promo:focus-within {
  outline: 0.25rem solid;
}

High contrast

How the component looks with a Windows High Contrast Mode theme active.

Borders on all sides mark out the shape of the Promo

Transparent borders are applied on all sides. These become visible when Windows HCM is active, and define the shape of the Promo in the absence of the background-color:

.gel-promo {
  background-color: $gel-color--alto;
  border: 2px solid transparent; /* for high contrast mode */
}

Promo interaction should be ergonomic for mouse, touch, keyboard, and screen reader users. For mouse and touch users, the whole Promo should be clickable as one link. This should be achieved without relying on either of the following:

  1. Multiple, duplicated links: Linking each of the constituent elements produces multiple and redundant tab stops, impeding keyboard navigation[5].
  2. A wrapper link: Placing all of the Promo's content inside a link produces a verbose, confusing and/or truncated link label[6] (which is liable to affect both SEO and, more importantly, screen reader experience).

Instead, the headline link's pseudo-content is positioned over the entire Promo.

.gel-promo__headline::after {
  content: '';
  position: absolute;
  top: 0;
  right: 0;
  bottom: 0;
  left: 0;
}

This leaves one piece of unfinished business: any links appearing after the headline are now not clickable. This is remedied by raising these links over the pseudo-content with position: relative.

.gel-promo a:not(.gel-promo__headline) {
  position: relative;
}

Example implementation

Promos with descriptions, metadata and labels

Promos with descriptions, metadata and media indication

A single, horizontal Promo

Open in new window

This component was originally developed and tested at the BBC in a prototype of the BBC Homepage. During user research we tested with X users, including subjects with a variety of impairments and a range of digital skills. You can read more about our research and findings on the project Wiki page, hosted on GitHub.

Further reading, elsewhere on the Web


  1. Complementary Landmark — W3C, https://www.w3.org/TR/wai-aria-practices/examples/landmarks/complementary.html ↩︎

  2. How to structure headings for web accessibility — Nomensa, https://www.nomensa.com/blog/2017/how-structure-headings-web-accessibility ↩︎

  3. "Basic screen reader commands for accessibility testing" by Léonie Watson, https://developer.paciellogroup.com/blog/2015/01/basic-screen-reader-commands-for-accessibility-testing/ ↩︎

  4. How To Write Page Titles For Google & Other Search Engines in 2018, https://www.hobo-web.co.uk/title-tags/#page-titles-example-use ↩︎

  5. Keyboard Accessibility — WebAIM, https://webaim.org/techniques/keyboard/ ↩︎

  6. Accessibility and HTML5 Block Links — https://simplyaccessible.com/article/html5-block-links/ ↩︎

Copyright © 2019 BBC. This content is published under the Open Government Licence, unless otherwise noted.

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