Few fact to design your links

It is a fact that links have always been a vital part in the internet navigational process. Depending on the links and also on the content of the site that the link leads to, internet users decide on the worthiness of coming back to that site or not. One cannot fail to notice the latest trends imposed by web 2.0, the emergence of a new writing genre designed to cater for the new needs and tastes of internet users and also the transformation process that search engines undergo.

Broadly speaking, users go from page to page selecting only the most important information or just the information that is easier to spot; they need to be able to make a quick assessment of the page content, get the information they are seeking and go to another page. Usually, web authors employ hypertext links to create or reinforce concepts: a list of related links can serve as the focus of a site. The problem posed by links has little to do with the web but is rather related to the concept of hypertext.

A collection of links does not have the same effect on the reader and is not as legible as conventional linear text. In the case of linear text, readers have to work harder in seek of needed information. Links also become a technical problem, because most web pages have a certain rank on search engines due to links. Links are to be used as a reinforcement of, not a substitute for content. What is worth mentioning when tackling the link issue is that designers are supposed to use relevant link labels, give consistent click ability cues and also differentiate links that have been clicked from those that haven't.

1. Use relevant link description Users' confusion must be avoided at all costs. In this respect, they should be able to look at every link and be able to predict to some extent the destination or the website they are about to visit.

A negative example in this case is using the label - Click here-, which is rather confusing and does not provide any kind of information about the link destination. Another relevant case is that of embedded links; when employing embedded links, the link text should accurately designate the link's direction. Users have a certain tendency towards ignoring the text surrounding embedded links; consequently, it is recommended that you should not create embedded links that use the surrounding text in order to provide hints about the link's destination. 2. Be aware that textual links do have certain main characteristics like: underlining and color.

The second trait is not as important as the first one, i.e. underline can be eliminated in some cases like the one when an area functionality is absolutely obvious - for instance, we could think of a site menu where everybody expects a content summary as a presentation. Thus, you should provide users with sufficient click ability cues. Trying to put the cursor over different parts of the page is time consuming and not quite "affordable" with a view to gain more traffic. At the same time, it's worth keeping in mind that there area certain click ability expectancies regarding different regions of a web page; for instance, items on the center, left, right side have a high probability of being links.

3. Use different colors for visited and unvisited links Links that were clicked must differentiate one way or another from the ones that were not; the best way of doing that is the color contrast; links are supposed to stand out on the computer screen as much as possible; in this respect, bright, vivid colors are preferable - links should differentiate from linear text in any case. Conversely, links that were already clicked should employ a rather pale and "washed" color. The effect of using different colors but both at the same level of chromatic intensity might result in a failure to establish a concrete content relationship between those links, users won't be able to tell visited from non-visited links.

Even though some compromises would be acceptable (like using other colors), using blue for text is an exception. Blue is a color with the most notable perceived affordance of click ability. 4. Colors for text are to be avoided It is recommended that colors should be used for hyperlinks only. Nevertheless, there are generally recognized and allowed colors for certain words such as red for "error" or green for "ok". Technically speaking, when referring to document colors, it is advisable that you specify all of the colors (BGCOLOR, TEXT, LINK, VLINK, ALINK), to ensure an enjoyable and legible composition.

Find out more about choosing the right colors for your web site. The main reason reinforcing this idea is that some users may have certain colors set as default, so if you don't specify all the colors of a document, they may end up with an illegible document. In addition, even when using a background image, you should still specify BGCOLOR, because the user may not have the image loading on.

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