Hyperlink Tips

Hyperlinks are the most important navigation tools on the Internet. Without them, moving around the Web would be pretty difficult.

Designing easy-to-use hyperlinks requires some thought. A lot of Web sites contain hyperlinks that have usability and/or accessibility problems.

Use the following tips to ensure your hyperlinks are both usable and accessible to all users.

Use Action Links

Where possible, always name links in terms of user actions.

For example:

  • "Go to Checkout" is preferred to "Checkout";
  • "View Cart" is preferred to "Shopping Cart"; and
  • "Check Email" is preferred to "Email".

Cross-Linking

Different people look for things differently. Cross-linking relevant pages will help users find what they are looking for.

For example:

  • In your "Contact Us" page, link to your "Frequently Asked Questions" page. It is possible that the answer to their question is contained in FAQ page, which would save you having to answer their question by email; and
  • In your "Checkout" page, link to your "Privacy Policy" page. Many users are concerned about their privacy when they buy online, so a visit to your privacy policy page could alleviate their concerns and ensure the customer does not abandon the sale.

Minimize Links in Text

Try to minimize the number of links in your text. Blue underlined links will distract the user and disrupt their reading flow.

It is better to place the links at the bottom of the page. This way, when the user has finished reading the text, they have options to explore further. This is the approach used for most links on this site.

Icons vs. Text links

Icons vs. text links. Which one is better?

They are both good. However, some icons take time to learn. Generally, I recommend that you use text links, rather than icons. But if you have to use icons, and the icon is not self-explanatory, include a text link to the side of, or underneath, the icon.

Avoid Broken Links

Finding broken links can be most frustrating and confusing. It's like coming to a dead end in a road you're driving along.

So it is essential that you monitor all your internal and external links regularly. I recommend at least once a week. There are many Perl scripts, software programs and link monitoring services that can help you monitor your links, so there should be no excuse for broken links in your site.