August 10, 2010
Use contrasting colors for links. This makes the links easier to discern from other text on a web page. Also, avoid placing links against a patterned background, as it will make it much more difficult to read the link text. Bottom line, the link color should stand out from the rest of the web page, and be easy to locate.
2. Link Traits
Underlining is still the universal indication of a link. Using the “underline” for links will send a clear message to website visitors about which text on the webpage is just text, and which text is actually a hyper-link. And along this line of thought, you should avoid using underlining for text that is not a link, just to avoid confusion.
Make all the links visible. Do not hide the links or navigation on a web page. Avoid using scripting to display links, as these links will not be visible to website visitors who have turned scripting off in their browser for security reasons.
Text links have a higher rate of clicks than linked images. The one exception is typically a “Buy Now” button, which tends to be more effective than text-only “Buy Now” links. Keep this in mind when creating a linking scheme for your website.
The location of links should be consistent as the visitor moves from page to page through your website. Do not move links around as the content of the web page changes.
Place important links in a location that is easy for the website visitor to see without having to scroll. Position important links “above the fold” on the website.
7. Font Style & Size
In order to make links easy for the visitor to see, be sure to use a font style and size that can be easily read.
8. Graphic Links
If you use image links, the clickable graphics should be vibrant and should stand out from the other content on the page. Use bright or bold contrasting colors for the graphic. Be sure to include appropriate ALT text for each linked image, so the visitor will have an indication of the material being linked to as they move their mouse over the graphic.
Conduct split-testing by changing colors and moving links around, and then monitor and track which options and locations result in the highest number of clicks. What may seem intuitive is not always as obvious as you might think.
10. Fresh Eyes
Ask a friend or family member to navigate your website. It may surprise you to learn what they see and where they click. A fresh set of eyes will give a good indication of how others will perceive your website and the clickable content.
Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll software for creating, editing, publishing RSS feeds and podcasts. In addition Sharon manages marketing for RecordForAll audio recording and editing software.