DES 5.1 – Provide meaningful links
Why is this important?
Most users scan content pages with a focus on the information they need and the actions they can take. Whether you are visually scanning the page or using a screen reader to announce the different links on a page, key to understanding where a link will take you is the link text you use.
Support this scanning behaviour – and avoid making your audience read the content surrounding your links – by ensuring you convey key information in the link text. Many screen reader users will look at a list of all the links when they first land on a page, and navigate to the most appropriate one.
Support scanning by providing short and descriptive links
- Make sure your link text accurately represents its destination or function, without needing to read any text around it;
- Make links unique – if you were to read out just the links on your page, would each one make sense? If not, reword them.
- Avoid linking whole sentences;
- Do not link whole paragraphs;
- Avoid unnecessary prefixes, such as “link to…” or “click this to…” – links should be obvious by their appearance and the language you use in the link text;
- Avoid phrases such as “click here”, “more”, “for further information” – these do not give any indication of the nature of the content you are linking to – this is especially inconvenient when reading through a list of links on a page.
Provide useful supporting information in the link text
- Specifying links to other sites, that open in a new window, that link to a different format document (for example, a PDF), or include information about a download size, is very useful information to convey to users, before they make a decision to select it;
- Include this information in the link text, not just next to it, so it will be seen out of context.
Present lists of links as bullet-point or numbered lists
Rather than cram lots of links into your content, use a separate section at the end that lists those links.
- Using list functionality to present lists avoids any confusion caused by links wrapping over multiple lines, which otherwise might look like several different links;
- Using list functionality also tells screen reader users that this content is a list of links, without you having to specify that in text.
Examples of good and bad practice
Descriptive link text and presentation
Table 1 - how to and how not to compose descriptive link text
Do not write…
To visit the location map, click here
Visit the location map for directions
Including supporting information in link text
EN 301 549 v 2.1.2
- 184.108.40.206 Info and Relationships
- 220.127.116.11 Link Purpose (In Context)