How are navigation and TOC links validated and tested for usability and accessibility in DITA?

Validating and testing navigation and table of contents (TOC) links in DITA is crucial to ensure usability and accessibility. Here’s a process for testing and ensuring the quality of these links:

1. Manual Testing: Start with manual testing to ensure the accuracy of links within your DITA content. Manually go through your documentation to verify that all navigation links are functioning correctly. Pay attention to anchors, cross-references, and other types of links, confirming that they lead to the intended destinations. Additionally, assess the link descriptions to ensure they are informative and concise, aiding user understanding.


<link href="topic1.dita">Link to Topic 1</link>
<link href="topic2.dita">Link to Topic 2</link>

In the manual testing process, you would click on “Link to Topic 1” and “Link to Topic 2” to verify they navigate to the correct DITA topics.

2. Automated Testing: Employ automated testing tools that can scan your DITA content for broken links, missing alt text for images, and other accessibility issues. Tools like link checkers and HTML validators help identify issues more efficiently and comprehensively. Automated tests can also flag potential problems that may be missed during manual testing.


<link href="image.png" alt="Product Image">Product Image</link>

An automated testing tool can detect if “alt” attributes for images are missing or improperly formatted, ensuring accessibility compliance.

3. User Testing: The ultimate validation comes from real users. Conduct usability testing with your target audience. Observe how users interact with the navigation and TOCs, whether they find the links intuitive, and if they can easily navigate through the content. Gather feedback to make improvements based on user experience.


<topicref href="section1.dita" />
<topicref href="section2.dita" />

In user testing, users’ feedback on the clarity and effectiveness of the navigation provided by these links is invaluable in enhancing usability.

By following this validation and testing process, you can ensure that your DITA documentation is not only accurate but also user-friendly and accessible, enhancing the overall user experience.