Joel Walters

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CSS Image Replacement

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If you aren’t familiar with the CSS jargon “image replacement”, it is essentially a way to replace an h1 heading—or other text-based content—with an image or company logo. This way you can have a fancy graphic instead of plain text, and maintain accessibility and SEO benefits.

There are many CSS image replacement techniques out there. Notably, the FIR or “Fahrner Image Replacement” technique is among the most popular. However, this method is not deemed accessible.

The goal of image replacement techniques is to be compatible with the most possible browser (user agent) configurations and to be accessible. This means we want to support browsers with a 1% or greater market share in various configurations (e.g. CSS on/off, images on/off), as well as screen readers and other assistive technologies.

My personal preference for image replacement involves using an a (anchor tag) inside an h1 or other block element. It is called the “LLJ” method, and it should work on all major browsers, including IE6+.

Below is the HTML/CSS to implement this technique. It’s also hosted on jsfiddle.

HTML:

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<h1 id="title">
  <a href="http://example.com" title="example title">Meaningful Text</a>
</h1>

CSS:

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h1#title {
  position: relative;  /* allows child element to be placed positioned wrt this one */
  margin: 0;           /* adjust margin as needed */
  padding: 0;          /* needed to counter the reset/default styles */
  height: 50px;        /* height of replacement image */
  overflow: hidden;    /* hide the text */
}

h1#title a {
  position: absolute;  /* defaults to top:0, left:0 and so these can be left out */
  height: 0;           /* force 0 height */
  width: 100%;         /* width of parent */
  padding-top: 50px;   /* match height of h1#title above */
  background: url(replacement-image.png) top left no-repeat;
}

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