As well as site navigation that will point users to the various areas of your web site, you will often want to include links to documents or other relevant information on your web page.
Important things 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 (web address) as the text for a link
URLs can be difficult to read or understand and are often ugly. Name the target of the link rather than use its web address.
Don't use: For more information about Afebrile Seizures please go to http://www.rch.org.au/clinicalguide/cpg.cfm?doc_id=5123
Try instead: For more information please visit the Afebrile Seizures Clinical Practise Guideline.
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.
Linking to an email address
Use the email address for email link text rather than a descriptive label.
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.
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 just don't do it.