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Posts Tagged ‘html-links’

The website —  25 Ways To Make Your Website Accessible is a great one to take a look at.  I want to bring your attention to tip 6, quoted below:

Because some assistive technologies show links on a separate page, the content of textual links is very important. It sounds simple but many web sites do not follow this suggestion. The following rules are good not only for accessibility, but for usability and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as well:

  • A link should still be meaningful out of context;
  • A text link should be unique to the page on which it appears (i.e. don’t use the same link text for different resources);
  • Never use “Click here” or “More” for link text;
  • Do not use a long URL for link text (screen readers will read it all out and annoy the user).

In the following text, the user must backtrack to understand where the link goes.

Not good: To learn more about the bat species, click here.

The following is more succinct and would make sense even out of context.

Much better: If you’re interested, learn more about the bat species.

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Don’t rely on color alone.
Guideline 2 of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

So, basically, if you decide you must create a link which is not underlined, then make sure you do not use color alone to indicate that it is a link.

A good site on accessibility is Dive Into Accessibility — 30 days to a more accessible web site. For good examples of this color-link concept see  Day 12: Using color safely.

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Keep the underline

Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. In this case, if you are concerned about accessibility, do not mess with the underline in links.

The default for displaying a textual hyperlink on the Web is underlining. Don’t remove it. Lots of designers remove underlining to make a “better” design because they are not concerned about accessibility, or perhaps, they don’t understand the issues around accessibility.

The main reason to keep the underlining is so that color-blind users will be able to see the links.  Non-color-blind users will be able to see the links more clearly too. If you absolutely MUST remove the underlining then make sure the links are denoted in some other way that color-blind users will be able to see – bolding, underlining, for example.

Another design rule is to make sure that plain text is NOT underlined.  Underlined text on a web page should actually be a hyperlink.  If you want to emphasize text then use the emphasis element (<em>).

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Lots of people manipulate the way links look on websites. This is often not the best thing for accessibility.

It used to be that a link would appear as underlined text, in blue. Once visited, it would appear as a different color. Or, maybe to jazz things up, the designer would use an image as the link label. Now, as we all know, links can appear in many different ways.

What should the designer, who is concerned about accessibility, do?

Over the next several posts I will discuss several issues, including:

  • Should links be underlined?
  • What color should links be?
  • Why does the content of the link matter?
  • What should you do when opening links differently than “normal”?
  • What about making links accessible to the keyboard-only users?

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