Chris Ashton

dai11y 09/06/2021

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The perfect link

  • Rian Rietveld tackles all the common questions around links:
    • It is usually better to stick with the browser default behaviour, i.e. don’t open links in new tabs/windows. However, it’s OK to do so if you make it clear (“Opens in new window” in the text of the link).
    • Link text should be meaningful and understandable on its own. “Click here” is about the worst link text there is. Proper link text is much easier to scan.
    • For emails, use as your href. For telephone numbers, use tel:+31108429259; these will open emails in email clients and make phone calls respectively. For the link text, it’s a good idea to repeat the email and phone numbers, rather than using “email” and “call us”.
    • For linking to files such as PDFs, but the filetype and size in brackets, e.g. “Web Accessibility Principles (PDF, 327 Kb)”.
    • When embedding images in a link, use alt text that makes sense as link text, e.g. “Wikipedia page on cherry blossoms” rather than “A cherry tree in full bloom”, as the image alt text will get read out by screen readers as part of the link.
    • Links in the body should generally be underlined – relying on colour difference alone isn’t distinguishable for colour-blind or visually impaired users. Links in navigation need not be underlined, as these are more obviously links.
    • As always, ensure your links have hover and focus styles. Rian recommends not removing the browser’s default outline.
    • For internal links, your href attribute should point to an ID – not to another link with a name attribute, which has been obsolete since HTML5.

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