The Map of Life website has been designed to be as accessible as possible for all our users. We realise that not everyone will interact with the site in the same way, but we want the information to be available to as many people as possible.


A key part of the design process is to follow recognised standards-compliant technology and code. The pages are built using valid XHTML, and CSS is used to control the layout and appearance of all the elements. Where we provide contact details, the code is microformatted.

Modern, standard web browsers such as Firefox and Safari will display the site as it is intended, but it will also display well in Internet Explorer. The site is not designed for use in mobile devices.

All pages should display well with or without stylesheets or images enabled. All text is re-sizeable. All images have ALT text, and abbreviations or acronyms have associated explanatory text – for example, if users hover over the abbreviation “XHTML”, a tool-tip will appear to explain what the letters stand for.

Mouse and keyboard compatibility

For those who do not use a mouse to select and activate links on a web page, it is possible to use the TAB key to move from one hyperlink to the next, and the ENTER key to activate a link.
We do not use accesskeys as a navigation tool because of the possibility that the chosen key combinations could clash with built-in shortcut combinations, in a particular the web browser or operating platform (for more information on accesskey problems, see this article).


Many links include a small piece of explanatory text, called a tool-tip, which appears if users hover their mouse-pointer over it. This feature is not used where we deem that the link itself (e.g. a piece of text) is self-explanatory.

The Map of Life contains a few links to external websites, indicated by a small icon next to the link name. External links open in a new browser window or tab, but do not use JavaScript to create a “pop-up” window.


Although web browsers are designed to present web pages, rather than handle complex printing, it is possible to print out pages from the Map of Life website. These print outs may be sub-standard relative to the original web page, sometimes retaining useless information such as navigation menus, or else can appear cramped and poorly laid-out.

As users may sometimes wish to print the text of a Topic or a Category, we first display the number of words in each Topic, to help users decide if printing will be a good idea, and second we have tried to make the printed versions of pages as legible and attractive as possible. All printouts will be readable, even if their format is altered somewhat in the printing process.

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