[thelist] Useability/design Opinion's sought

Chris Heilmann lists at onlinetools.org
Mon Mar 21 11:02:47 CST 2005

> How important do you think it is that such links "jump out" at the
> viewer ? Very important, or just moderately important ? Obviously, they
> need to be noticeable for anyone actually READING the paragraph straight
> through ... but should they be easy to pick out at a glance ?
> Also, do you think it is of utmost importance that visited links always
> be very noticable ? I've seen some sites that don't set them apart at
> all ... I think the designer couldn't find a color gradation he liked or
> something.

>From a plain usability / accessibility point of view I strongly advise for
links to stand out when inside the content. Visited links also help the
user realise immediately where she has been already and may prevent a
frustrating re-visit of possibly a wrong page. On the other hand it helps
her find her way back to that one wonderful page she visited some days ago
really easy. I think the best article about links I read so far is Jukka's
"Links want to be links": http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/www/links.html

The problem with textlinks is that they do represent a break in the
context though. A link indicates I can click and go further, and that
stops me from following the sentence, if only for some milliseconds. Most
of the time, a link inside an article is there to give more information or
back up an argument by linking to another source also talking in favour of
it. I started to favour an email-like style "as Bob the Sheepfarmer
says[1]" and have a list of links at the end of the article instead:

[1] Bob the Sheep farmer talks about the crisis in the middle east:

This also makes the links be usable when you print the page.

A very very annoying trend in online marketing is (ab)using text for
allegedly topical sponsorship. Many emails came in about my articles on
devarticles for example, stating why I randomly linked words:

This "intellitext" might be the coup-de-grace for in-text links, much like
banner-blindness killed the right hand gutter for proper information.
Chris Heilmann
Blog: http://www.wait-till-i.com
Writing: http://icant.co.uk/
Binaries: http://www.onlinetools.org/

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