Make your links visible and obvious

16 December, 2005

How many links do you see?

How about here?

The answers are three and zero respectively. Did you guess two for each? Me too.

I didn’t think I’d have to do this after 2003, but I’m going to have to quote Jakob Nielson. In his Top Ten Web Design Mistakes of 2005 he writes:

Non-Standard Links: Make obvious what’s clickable: for text links, use colored, underlined text (and don’t underline non-link text).

Clearly Tantek needs to be reminded of this. On the other hand, Fintan Darragh has abided by this rule (as links on his blog are underlined blue text), but the number of other people who don’t, and just use a different background colour to indicate a link mean that his styling also appears wrong! What this seems to mean is that we’re so used to seeing strong and em styled only as bold and italic that anything else that is styled is very likely to be a link, whether it’s underlined or not. In fact, this principle governs an awful lot of the web, and is mostly just assumed to be true. There’s no easy solution to this. Maybe browsers should come with “underline links: always” turned on by default?

See other posts tagged with general and all posts made in December 2005.