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Accessible Links

No anchor text please...

     
3:01 pm on Feb 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Since this is the Accessibility and Usability Forum, I think it would be best practice if we started treating every post here from an Accessibility and Usability standpoint.

While preparing topics for discussion or replying to topics already in progress, it is imperative that we follow the guidelines ourselves on Accessibility and Usability. One of the first things I'd like to suggest is that we not use anchor text for links and use pure URIs. So, instead of this...

WebmasterWorld Accessibility and Usability Forum [webmasterworld.com]

We should do this...

WebmasterWorld Accessibility and Usability Forum
[webmasterworld.com...]

or...

WebmasterWorld Accessibility and Usability Forum [webmasterworld.com] (www.webmasterworld.com/forum116/)

Anybody care to tell me why? And, what suggestions do you have to make this forum more accessible and usable?

3:15 pm on Feb 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I would humbly like to take issue with my esteemed co-moderator. ;) When linking like this:

WebmasterWorld Accessibility and Usability Forum [webmasterworld.com]

the disadvantage is that when the content is printed the URL is not available. This can be fixed with a CSS3 rule in a print stylesheet, but that won't work well everywhere. However the big advantage of linking like this is that screen reader software gives a meaningful text description to the link rather than just a plain URL, which is particularly vital when taken out of context (when the screen reader lists just the available links on the page, for example). It is more friendly and useable for sighted users too.

Using this:

WebmasterWorld Accessibility and Usability Forum
[webmasterworld.com...]

disassociates the link from the anchor text, which is damaging for both accessibility and usability.

This:

WebmasterWorld Accessibility and Usability Forum [webmasterworld.com] (www.webmasterworld.com/forum116/)

is a potential compromise: meaningful anchor text with a visible URL when printed. However the URL is visible/accessible via a

title
attribute so it may be overkill, and the repetition adds a certain redundancy. It is the search engine results page method though - an anchor with the page title, the url underneath and an associated description.

What does anyone else think? This is a good example of the many factors you have to consider when presenting your content. There is no "right" answer in many cases. :)

11:51 am on Feb 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I would be for the first solution - meaningfull text no url written apart in title attribute.

although I have printed a couple of ala articles and the url appears next to the text as per encyclo CSS3 comment

5:25 pm on Feb 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I would humbly like to take issue with my esteemed co-moderator.

I am glad that you humbly did! :)

Okay, here's the situation. A client asks how can we make the URIs visible when a visitor to the site prints a page? I ask, "all links?" and the client says no, "just the reference links".

I do an hour or so of online research and can't find anything that specifically states what the best practice is for this scenario.

So, I tell the client. "we have three options". And those were...

  1. Create a new line with just the reference and spell out the URI.
  2. Place the URI reference in parenthesis next to the anchor text.
  3. List an outline of references at the bottom of the page and spell out the URIs there.

In the above case, the client chose the 3rd option and we created an <h2>Document References</h2> with a numbered list under it that coincides with the links in the document. For example, link one coincides with the first link in paragraph one.

It has been something that has bugged me for years. I used to print out quite a bit of technical stuff. Many of the links in those documents were invisible and it required me to do some additional legwork when interpreting those documents.

Now, let's talk about the lack of association. In the first example, I'm not too certain that I have broken the association between the two. In fact, I think I've solidifed it as the link is set up in a way where it uses a <br> to force the URI to a second line. So, we have one element, containing two lines, I would think the association is more prominent?

Have others been faced with this issue? What exactly have you done? Or, can you provide links to one of the authoritative resources that discuss the correct way to implement a solution for this?

I'm referring strictly to links within content. Not every link on the page. Just those that are referenced in the main body of your pages.