[thelist] Links and visited links

Symeon Charalabides symeon at systasis.com
Thu Nov 15 12:13:11 CST 2012

>  I have a question about a.link, visited, hover, active. I think it has
>  become quite standard to have the main navigation links always be the same
>  color, not changed if they are already visited, but they always have some
>  change when hovered over.

It's been years since I saw a website that differentiated the appearance of visited main navigation links. Then again, it's been years since I saw main navigation done in simple text links. I believe there's no point in this practice: it's assumed your main navigation links will be hit a lot so, in combination with the uniform design of those pages, large parts will be cached by the browser (and the server, when the scope and technical expertise is there).

In terms of usability, I suppose if a user can't remember what parts of a 5-6 item navigation they've been to, they have much bigger problems to deal with than a few revisited pages.

>  So what about links in the other parts of content on pages? It was pretty
>  standard at one point (I think) to have the link be a different color if it
>  had already been visited. But I don't think I see that any more in websites,
>  even though some purchased/free designs do have the visited color be
>  different.

For the generic text link, especially leading to different domains, there's still some utility in marking when it's been visited. Ultimately, it comes down to usability vs. appearance: Does the slight usability enhancement of marking visited links with a different colour offset the slight design annoyance of adding another colour? It's up to you, though your audience's expectations should weigh in heavily there.

Symeon Charalabides (cosmopolite trainee)

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