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Goldenfire Productions Blog

Linking Guidelines

 

Most recently I was reviewing a design concept along with a site wire frame and came up against one of the top mistakes made by companies and agencies trying to be different  on the web. Changing the link cue information. 

Normally when you think of links on a web site, they consist of some text, in a different color, with an underline under the linked text. this has been the standard design for hyperlinks on thee internet forever. 

It is designers and clever programers who take this standard practice and change it to fit their designs, which then make their site less accessible for the viewing world. 

In the site design concepts I was recently reviewing, the hyper links on this sites homepage were a separate color from the base text color, but not underlined. The weight was similar as well as the font size. 

Other designers have fallen to keeping link and body copy text color the same, while only underlining hyper links.  Others have found that making links a lighter color, but without the underline is a way to make their links known. 

The main problem is that links need to stand out. Have a strong visual cue that they are links and provide information about where they may take the visitor, or user.  Too many times as a web site visitor or user do I find myself asking, which link should I be clicking on or where should I go next on this site. 

I like to follow a few rules. 

  • If the link is in the body copy, is should be of the same font weight, and style of the sounding text. It should be underlined and of a different color to stand out from the sounding text. One can escape these rules for navigation and other link/ list areas. (the tag cloud is not underlined as it is defined as a link area. )
  • Avoid using underline to stress words in you body copy. As we are reserving the underline for links, placing under lined text on a page poses conflicting visual cues for the viewer. 
  • Links to separate pages should be place apart from each other. Wikis seem to fall to this rule as they try to link to other articles as much as they can. In the same breath, don’t make links smaller. you want users to click on your links, so making them harder to click isn’t going to do you any favors. 

 

Jacob Nielsen has some more guidelines for visualizing links
http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20040510.html

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