Guidelines for Visualizing Links

Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox, May 10, 2004


Textual links should be colored and underlined to achieve the best perceived affordance of clickability, though there are a few exceptions to these guidelines.

Here are the current usability guidelines for showing textual links:

These guidelines all relate to the textual link appearance. It's even more important that you carefully choose the link content (the actual words), but that's another topic. (For advice, see Homepage Usability's six guidelines for links, twelve guidelines for writing, and seven guidelines for navigation.) Graphical links are yet another story, but it's usually best to use text for most links anyway.

Following the usability guidelines for link appearance on your site will make it easier for users to immediately determine what they can do on each page and will reduce the probability that they'll overlook important links.

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