RCH WebHelp

Using links on your web page

As hyperlink is a link from a web page to another location, activated by clicking on a highlighted word, image or web page UI element (like a button).

The destination of a hyperlink can be any of the following:

  • a heading on the same page
  • another web page
  • a file (eg PDF)
  • an email address

This page covers important considerations to remember when adding links to your page

Clearly identify the target of the link

If you wish to direct your users to other relevant information you must clearly identify the target of the link.  Do not use 'click here' or other non-descriptive text as your link text.

Most users scan web pages rather than read them closely. Links stand out. Providing meaningful labels for your links will let your users easily see where or what a link will take them to.

Don't use: To download our latest newsletter click here
Try instead: Download our latest newsletter (PDF 120KB)

Don't use a URL as the text for a link

URLs can be difficult to read or understand and generally not user friendly. It is much better to name the target of the link using descriptive language.

Clearly label linked documents or resources

When a link takes the user to a resource other than a web page include the file format, size, and number of pages (if appropriate) next to the link.  Some users may not be able to download the file type or the file size may prohibitive (especially if they use a dialup modem). Labelling links gives them the option to download; this makes for a better user experience. Indicating the number of pages can be useful, as many users don't understand file sizes.

  • Don't use: Annual Report 2006
    Try instead: Annual Report 2006  (PDF 345KB, 36 Pages)
  • Some common file types and their abbreviations;
    • .doc = Word document - use DOC
    • .pdf = PDF document - use PDF
    • .txt = text documents - use TXT
    • .xls = Excel spreadsheets - use XLS

Alert users if they have limited access to a link

If you are linking to a restricted access resource (intranet only or password protected) clearly show this to users.

Don't: Policy and procedure manual 
Do: Policy and procedure manual (intranet only)
or  Policy and procedure manual (password protected)

Linking to an email address

Use the email address for email link text rather than a descriptive label.

Don't: Contact the webmaster
Do: To contact the webmaster email web.master@rch.org.au

This is the opposite to the procedure of linking to a web page. Displaying the email address as the text of the link helps alert the user that clicking on this link will cause their email program to open.

New windows

When creating links to other sites it is often temping to force the link to open in a new window.

Research indicates that users find this particularly frustrating as they are left with a multitude of open browser windows and their back button does not behave as expected. Our advice is to not to force links to open in new windows. Please resist the urge, and don't do open hyperlinks in a new window. 

Links are underlined

Our style sheet follows the convention that the text of a hyperlink is underlined. This well established convention gives a visual cue to users that a string of text is a link.

You should avoid underling text that is not a link as to not confuse users.

The colour of the link has semantic meaning as well:

  • A blue hyperlink has not been recently visited by the current user.
  • A purple hyperlink has been recently visited by the current user.



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