Links that work

Links are what make the web special. A web page should not be a dead end; it must allow users to continue onto their next task.

Types of links

There are four basic sorts of links:

And a single rule which applies to them all:

Link text must tell people where they will go if they clicked it.

Writing your link text

The text that makes up the link should match, at least approximately, the title of the page you're linking to. If not, users will be confused and may assume that the link goes to the wrong place.

When users scan a page, links jump out from the main text so the link text alone should clearly describe what you will get when you click on the link. Click here, More..., and this page don't work well as link text. Those links make the user read the preceding sentence in order to understand the link.

Choosing your links

Think about why users might be on your page. Then think about what they might want to do next. There is a good chance that they will want to find out more about something you have mentioned. Don't make your users go to a search engine - give them a direct link.

Where appropriate link to a specific page:

Avoid using headings as links

People scan for headings and for links but a heading which is also a link can be confusing. It is better to put a separate link under the heading

Avoid web addresses as links

Web addresses, also known as URLs,  look ugly and don't clearly indicate where the link goes to.  An exception would be if you actually want to tell your visitors what the 'top-level' address of a site is e.g.

The Students' Union website is

Placing your link

A link can go in one of two places:

  • Within the main text
  • As a bullet point at the end of the text

There are arguments for and against both methods but the second is generally preferable because it is always clear.

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