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  1. #1
    SitePoint Guru
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    Underlined Links - to use or not to use

    On one of my web sites I removed the underline feature for links so that the links to other pages just appear as plain text until you move the mouse over the text and the hand icon appears.

    Somebody now pointed out that users might not realize that they are meant to be links and therefore would not even try to click on the links or move the mouse over those links at all and that I therefore miss out on traffic. As I have these not-underlined links on parts like "About us" or "order now" I think it is obvious that those are links to other pages.

    What do you think about that?

    Thanks!

    Christoph
    The-USA dot net - PR4 Web Directory

  2. #2
    Sultan of Ping jofa's Avatar
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    My opinion: Links should not look like normal text, but they don't have to be underlined

    Interesting reading: http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10/#gl-facilitate-navigation

  3. #3
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    I say all links should be underlined. What happens when the mouse goes over the link is entirely up to you. Even when the mouse goes over it, I preffer to still have the link underlined.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the good advice! I just made the change on some parts of the site and hope that will even improve my stats, too :-)

    Christoph
    The-USA dot net - PR4 Web Directory

  5. #5
    SitePoint Guru
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    I just checked out your web site and your hosting prices are very high.

    $45 dollars a month for 300MB space and 6GB bandwidth?

    I'm paying $9.95 for 350MB disk space and 20GB bandwidth.

  6. #6
    SitePoint Guru
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    I know.

    It works on the local market. I am not targeting the main Internet customer neither am I trying to beat other people's prices. I am local only! But my customers get excellent support - they can reach me via phone and I even come out to their office or their home to help them and it is valuable to them having this service and that's why they do not have a problem with these prices.

    Christoph
    The-USA dot net - PR4 Web Directory

  7. #7
    SitePoint Guru
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    Ah, local only. That explains it.

  8. #8
    SitePoint Addict goma's Avatar
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    Originally posted by jofa
    My opinion: Links should not look like normal text, but they don't have to be underlined

    Same here. At the very least, make the links look different in some way from the rest of the text. One site I made uses a different shade of blue for the links but only underlines the link on rollover.

    I hate it when they remove underlines and have all the text on the site white and the links are all in very light grey. You end up rolling your mouse all over the place. Probably one of the worst design mistakes ever.
    http://www.soapbox101.com

  9. #9
    SitePoint Wizard iTec's Avatar
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    Links should be easily distiguishable from body text, either by underlining (most recomended), bold, italics, and or colour.

    Colour as the only method of distinguishing links should if possible be avoided, due to the large percentage of people that are colourblind (1 in 12 people have a form of colour blindness).

    If the links are part of a navigation area and are therefore clearly defined as Navigation (ie: part of a menu) then its not as important to have them underlined.

  10. #10
    ********* Callithumpian silver trophy freakysid's Avatar
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    I agree with what has been said. I have just redone a site and the links in the nav bar are not underlined (only on hover). I would hope that ppl visiting the site will immediatly identify the text in the nav bar as nav links. (the audience is webmasters, site owners). However, when you are embedding hyperlinks into your main body text, then I most definitely agree that they should be underlined. It tells the user that the text is a hyperlink.

    Which raises another interesting conundrum. Should we use underlining in our webpages to signify emphasis or a bibliographic title? I think not, because on a web page, underlined text signifies a hyperlink. I notice that iTec used underline for emphasis in his post. Were you making raising this issue in a very subtle way iTec?

  11. #11
    SitePoint Wizard iTec's Avatar
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    Originally posted by freakysid
    Were you making raising this issue in a very subtle way iTec?
    yes yes, ofcourse i was actually i didnt consiously think of it.. i just had a choice of b, u or i and given i was talking about u i subconciously used it.

    I think also that by default links have 2 deifferences from normal text, *normally* they are of both a different colour and underlined, i guess your right that having your text color and link colour the same could cause some confusion.

  12. #12
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    Everytime I see uinderlined text I roll the mouse over it looking for a link, and am annoyed when I do not find one, so I guess underlines are not best in emphasizing, stick to bold/italics...

    Also agree that whenever a hyperlinking is added in the content, at "least" underline it, if possible change the colour as well, you really want people to see it don't you?

  13. #13
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    One of my main clients is an online advertising agency and from their past research, underlining is best and gets the most clicks. Nav bars and such can be whatever as long as they are obvious.

    Also, if your design can hold up with using the standard blue that is used by default...this helps for more clicks, as well.
    Pace Computing Limited

    "If you don't make mistakes, you're not working on hard enough problems." - Frank Wilczek, Particle Physicist

  14. #14
    SitePoint Enthusiast Utopia's Avatar
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    The average Internet user recognises underlined links that are blue in colour instantly, starting to take this away from them must be a mistake, right?

    As annoyingly picky as Jakob Nielsens view of website usability can seem sometimes, the "10 biggest mistakes in web design" are pretty much spot on, in my view.

    I would never make a site without underlined links. Depending on the target audience (novices, skilled users, programmers, whatever) I may change the link colours to suit my colourscheme and style set, but I will always ensure that a visited link becomes a different colour.

    Fundamental aspects of web browsing shouldnt be taken away, even though it may be tempting, but the amount of people I come into contact with who have no idea that a link is a link because even though its a different colour, its not underlined, strongly influences me to continue this convention!.

    It does depend strongly on circumstance, but in most cases, keep the underlines on hyperlinks. Its a small matter, some might say trivial, but it's essential.


  15. #15
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    New Architech magazine mentions that 37signals.com is one of those very user friendly site.... I guess checking out how they do it helps.

    It is the way we presented the site that is important. Whether to underline a link or not is really depending on how the layout and page design are.

    Just a personal point of view...
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