Incorporating links with text on your website pages can be very helpful for directing your visitors to the relevant page to get the information they require, but as with many important factors of web design and content layout, if not done correctly it can be so easy to create page after page after page of content that can be quite frustrating for your visitors to use even if this is not what you intended to do so.
Fortunately the most common website mistakes are very easy to prevent and using these simple 4 tips when linking pages on your website will start you on your way to creating a user friendly website.
1) Explain what you are linking to
If possible, provide information about what your link points to. Here is an example…
You run a fitness camp and have included a venue links page on your website where you have listed all the venues that you carry out your fitness camp sessions on one page. If you just put here are a list of venues we use and rows and rows of links, it is going to be time consuming for your visitor to click on each link to find out more information, they may simply just be looking for an address to figure out which venue is closest to them.
I would recommend adding some additional information including the time and days that you run the fitness camp at the venue and simply there address. You may have already provided this information on another page of your website but your potential client may not have seen that page or has seen the page but is getting frustrated going backwards and forwards between the two pages to get the information they require. Adding this additional information to will not cost you too much time as you already know the details already and could be the difference of getting the business or losing it.
2) New windows – avoid them for internal links
So many website owners make this very simple mistake having new pages open up in new windows. In some cases this is OK – For example if the link is going to open up into a PDF document that they may wish to print off fine – but if it is going to a different url page on your website avoid!
The only time it is ok to have a new window open up is if you are linking to an external website (referencing the fitness camp example above – the venues own website would be fine to open in a new window) but if it is a page on your own website keep it to the same window.
The simple reason for this is it can be very confusing having half a dozen windows pop open on your screen. Visitors can still get around your website just fine when opening a link in the same window and if they can’t you may need to sit down and re look at your navigation.
3) Make links blue and underline them
I would recommend if possible (and only if the colour blue is clearly visible and does not fade away into your background colour) to make your link blue and underlined. If you can’t use the colour blue then at least the underline is a clear resemblance that the word is a link.
If you do not make a link clear your user will not know that they can click on it to find out more relevant information and the only way of them using that link is if they accidently scroll there mouse over it. You need to ask yourself what is the point of including a link if it is not clear so when including them in with your text make sure they stand out! Remember your main navigation links at the top do not need to follow this rule – they can be any colour you like just make sure your links within your text is easy to identify by your users.
4) Test your links
Make sure your site works and test them in a browser. Once you have uploaded your new website or made any changes check that they work correctly. Load the page in a browser of your choice and test everything. There is nothing more unprofessional than a user clicking on one of your links that leads to a page that no longer exists.
There are many other concepts to keep in mind when linking internal links on your website, but keeping these simple 4 steps in mind will certainly help you on your way to creating a great user friendly website.
Digital Marketing Manager
The Internet Marketing Academy
(Image by Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)