Visible or Invisible Links

Website's in general, and blogs in particular, are all about links. Sending people where you want, to content that they want. Are your links easy to find? How about if your site was viewed by someone colorblind or partially sighted?

Accessibility can be viewed as the "ability to access" the functionality, and possible benefit, of some system or entity. - Wikipedia

If your viewers can't find your links, can't navigate your site, can they benefit from your content? The problem I often see with links isn't with the main navigation, but with links in the content of a page. Too often I see content links that don't contrast enough with the main content to be easily identifiable. They blend in to content, and therefore are useless. A link unseen is a link unused. In this sentence, which words are links? It's a trick question actually, because every word is linked. I've used a bit of inline CSS to change the appearance of most of them. I've also suppressed the hover and focus psuedo-classes on some of the links. This means that they don't change when you mouse or tab over them. Not a helpful change if you're trying to find links, but one I've seen in use. The important part of links is that they are consistently identifiable. They need to be seen to be used. Links can have just about any effect applied to them you'd like. Choose from things like added color to bold, italic, underlined and overlined text. These can be done singly, or in any combination. For accessibility purposes, you should use at least two of them. One thing that accessibility guidelines agree on is that color should never be the sole method of passing on information. WCAG 1, WCAG 2 and Section 508 all have similar things to say on this subject. If color is your only identifier, it only takes a poor monitor to make them invisible. Use multiple signals to identify links and everyone will be better off. I'll go into the CSS of links in another post, but for now think on this. The design of your links is important. Color and style, underlined or not, background color or not, these are all can affect the flow of traffic through your site. How important is visitors finding your content to you? Thank you to Glenda Watson Hyatt for starting the discussion that lead to this post. Now I suggest reading her post on 3 Tips for Making Your Hyperlinks More Usable.

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Comments

Great info! I have only relied on colour most of the time to distinguish links. I think I'll italicise them too now.

Cheers!