2.12 Clearly identify the target of each link
WAI checkpoint 13.1
Full WAI text: "Clearly identify the target of each link."
Provide clear, upfront information about the consequences of following a link, including its destination and any associated effects. The information that should be given includes the following:
- The destination of the link
- If following the link takes the user away from the current website
- If following the link opens a new browser window
- If following the link activates a feature which could tie up the browser for a while, such as a file download
- If following the link submits information to a database
Clear link titles are essential for users to decide whether they want to follow a link and to understand what happens when they do. It is particularly important for people who are not overly familiar with computers, the web, or your service.
Clear link titles are helpful for screen reader users, who will often review the list of links on a page before investing the time to read through the content in detail. This is the equivalent of visually scanning a page to get an overview of what it contains and what options are available. Because the list of link titles are read out of context, it's important to provide link titles that do not require the user to read the surrounding information. For example, "click here" and "more" mean nothing when read out of context.
Information about side-effects such as opening new browser windows can be essential to users who are easily confused or who cannot see the new window opening. Information about downloads is also essential, so that the user can decide whether they can afford the time and cost required for the download and whether they downloaded file is of a type they can read and which best suits their needs. It is very frustrating to download a document, only to find that it is not compatible with your system or software.
Directions and Techniques
Write clear and meaningful link titles which make sense when read out of context
Avoid using the same title for two or more links that point to different places
Doing this is highly confusing. If two or more links refer to different targets but share the same link text, distinguish the links by specifying a different value for the "title" attribute of each A element. See the WAI recommended techniques for link text
Include warnings about pop-ups or new windows in link titles
Include a warning such as "(opens in a new window)" as part of any link title which activates a pop-up window. Including the warning as part of the hyperlink makes the link title more meaningful when read out of context, e.g. it will be read by screen reader users when they call up a list of links on the page.
Indicate file sizes and file types in links which activate downloads
Provide users with details of the file size and the document type in the link title. For example, "Report PDF (153K)". If possible, it is also useful to provide estimates of the download times for various types of connections alongside the download links. For example, "56K modem - 3 minutes".
How you could check for this:
There are no specific test methods recommended for this guideline.