Create meaningful hyperlinks

Best practices to create meaningful hyperlinks and links to PDFs

By using appropriate link text you will create meaningful hyperlinks to internal and external web pages. Use these guidelines for linking to non-web documents such as PDF’s and email addresses.

Create meaningful hyperlinks

create-meaningful-hyperlinks
This is NOT a meaningful hyperlink
  • Links should describe what users can expect to find when they click on the link.
  • Use short, concise link titles. Links should not exceed 60 characters.
  • Avoid using “click here.” Visually impaired visitors often use auditory browsers, which will read the text aloud rather than display it visually so the link should have meaning when read out of context.
  • Do not use URLs as link text. Not only can URL’s from other sites be long, they can be difficult to read.

Text you can use to create a link title:

  • The name of the site the link leads to (if different from the current site).
  • Details about the information on the linked page and how it relates to the context of the current page. For example: to view the tutorial on creating links, see Artbiz’s WordPress tutorials.
  • A specific action, such as “Sign up for my newsletter”

Internal and external links

An internal link is any page that exists on your website.

An external link is any web page that exists outside of your website.

Open web pages in the same browser window. Most people rely on their Back button to go back to where they were, they can become confused when it appears grayed out, so they close the browser entirely. For this reason, open web pages in same browser window.

PDFs and non-web documents – open in a new window

pdf
Visitors can become confused when links to non-web documents offer a different user experience than that of standard web pages.

Usability studies find that when people are finished viewing PDF files or other non-web documents, they clicked the window’s close box instead of the Back button. If the document wasn’t launched in a new window, they have left the site completely.

Guidelines for linking to non-web documents:

  • Open non-web documents in a new browser window.
  • Warn users in advance that a new window will appear.
  • Use the following format, only linking the document title to the file:
    • Sample Guideline Document (PDF – 16 kB) opens in new window
    • Application Form (DOC – 3 MB) opens in new window
  • To open files in a new window, select the ‘Open in new window’ option in the WordPress hyperlink dialogue box.
  • Keep file names under 20 characters

Email links

Outlook-Email-SetupEmail addresses should be spelled out and hyperlinked when they are to open an email client. Clicking an email link and having a new page open with a form is misleading. Make it clear the link is an email link. For example:

If you want to direct people to your contact information contained on a contact page, tell them so. For example:

In conclusion:
By using the appropriate text to create meaningful hyperlinks visitors will understand what information the hyperlink may contain. Links that do what visitors expect them to do will increase the usability of your website.

This is the fourth of 4 articles dedicated to writing good content. To read the others follow these links:
Web Page Writing Tips
Scanning Web Pages
Using Web Page Heading Titles and Headlines

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