Create links that visitors will follow

The days of flashing, look-at-me, animated hyperlinks are long gone when web designers realized they were eyesores and just plain tacky. But how do you get a user to “click here” without making the link overbearingly obvious? Here are a couple of tips to making your web pages and multimedia elements easily navigable.

Hyperlinks should be a color that is distinguishable from the rest of the text. More often than not, blue is chosen, but they can be any one color. Links should also be either bold, underlined or both for quick scanning. Most importantly, Make sure your links are easy to click. When a font or link is too small, it requires the user to click precisely on a small area of pixels which can be very frustrating.

There are two schools of theory when it comes to using the directive “click here” to indicate a hyperlink. Some say the phrase, or variations of it, is unbeatable in indicating something is clickable or important. Others use a group of words as the link instead to creating a continuous flow of conversation. You’ll find 10,000 words subscribes to the latter theory, but really its up to you and your company style.

Many web sites, especially news and banking sites use drop down to streamline a massive number of links, but in most cases they obscure a particular link your visitor may be trying to find, leaving them scouring the entire page. I’m guilty of using drop down menus (in one case, some 60+ California neighborhoods were grouped by county), but I always consider the alternatives before using the navigation style.

Finally, the links on both the web page and any multimedia elements should be similar so as not to confuse the reader. You can find more link usability tips at Coding Horror and Wake Up Later.