Links displayed on a page can vary in style, format, and appearance. When links are displayed on a page, it is important to consider how links are perceived by users. A proper link display will ensure the link appearance and structure does not compromise the accessibility of a link.
Links should always be visually different from regular text on a website. Visual indicators will allow users to identify links more quickly. Links can be differentiated from other text using various combination of color, bold, underline or italics. However, color should never be the only means to differentiate a link from regular text. Use of color should be accompanied by either underline, italics or bold text (font styling) in order to differentiate link from regular text. Refer to the Web Accessibility Criteria: Color page for more information.
Global Navigation links are a set of links that direct users to key sections of a website. No more than seven links in global navigation menu should be present. It is recommended to keep a minimal amount of links in the global navigation to prevent a visual clutter and maintain an easy-to-use site.
Breadcrumb links are a visual trail of links that allow users to identify their location on a website. They allow users to see what steps they took to reach a page and provide the ability to go back to pages without using a "back button". Breadcrumbs are particularly useful for websites with complex structure or web pages in a sequence. Breadcrumbs may be programmatically coded as an unordered list, ordered list, nested list or text. WebAim has a list of different types of breadcrumb examples. It is the content creator’s discretion to determine which method to use.
Why is Link Display Important?
Links are a crucial part of a website’s content because they direct users to additional information. The way links are displayed on a page is important because it will ensure links are easily identifiable and accessible to all users. The link appearance should always allow links to easily stand out from other text and should not use color only as the only means to stand out. When the link does not stand from regular text, users may not be aware that a link is present. Moreover, if only color is used to differentiate a link, users who are colorblind may not recognize a link is present on the page. In addition, when global links are displayed on the page, it is important to minimize the number of global links present. Foo many global links may overwhelm the user and decrease the accessibility of a page. Finally, breadcrumbs are a great method to visually provide direction to a webpage. They will ensure users do not get confused when pages have too many sub-pages within and will present users from having to select the "back button" excessively.