Links should stand out, not blend in


When you’re designing for the web, perhaps the most basic rule is to make hyperlinks look different than the rest of your text. Some people take this too far, and try to think up new and often ridiculous visual treatments for their links. Blue and underlined suits me just fine, thank you.

Even worse than going overboard with your link style is going out of your way not to have a link style at all. I came across this very problem while looking for warranty repair info on the Samsonite site. Some genius at Samsonite made the links in their body text identical to the rest of the text. In other words, the links are black, non-bold, non-underlined — just like all the other text on the page. If it wasn’t for a few crudely placed “click here” phrases, I wouldn’t have known there were links on the page at all.

Obviously, this is a terrible approach. Visitors should be able to instantly discern where the links are within a page, rather than having to hunt for them by rolling over each piece of text with their mouse. Perhaps the person who designed the Samsonite website has never used the web before, or some careless person changed the CSS file without testing a single page afterwards. Either way, violating such a basic convention of web design is a surefire path towards low task completion rates and pissed-off users.