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Underlined hyperlinks

Yes or no?

     
2:54 pm on Jun 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

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What are the current thoughts on underlining hyperlinks in articles? The posts that I found on the subject at WebmasterWorld were three years old.

Thanks.
9:49 pm on June 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

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The visitor knows what they expect links to look like, leave it to whatever settings they have on their browser
10:05 pm on June 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

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The visitor knows what they expect links to look like, leave it to whatever settings they have on their browser


Thank you for your reply.

I may be missing something, but I didn't know someone could set their browser to tell a web page to underline hyperlinks or not. I thought the site owner determined that.

If you could explain more fully, I'd appreciate it.
1:57 am on June 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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piatkow was referring to browsers' default settings, which has links underlined, unvisited links in blue, and visited links in purple.

I don't agree that it is necessary to leave it to the default settings because sometimes a site design mandates something else.

Instead, my rule of thumb is to significantly distinguish the link from surrounding text. For links in paragraphs of text, I always underline to help accomplish this goal. Additionally, a different color than surrounding text is a must.
9:25 am on June 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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but I didn't know someone could set their browser to tell a web page to underline hyperlinks or not. I thought the site owner determined that.

An explicit styling on the site will take precidence but if you just leave things alone the visitor has control, as they do with font and point size.
12:27 pm on June 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I'm a huge fan of links looking like standard links. Keep it simple. Works well for me.
7:53 pm on June 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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This is one of the things that hasn't changed since "the beginning," and probably shouldn't, but is done all the time. There are some places in a layout that can get away with no underlines - like an explicit area for a navigation bar with appropriate cues that indicate it's a navigation, even redundant foot links - but "normal links" within text is still a very bad idea.

Additionally I see a lot of sites with "plain old text" styled with underlines for emphasis, probably drives people mad wondering why those links don't work . . . which [u]underlines[/u] why links should stay links and text should stay text. :-)
6:31 am on June 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

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If it looks like a link, then the visitor knows it's a link. If it doesn't look like a link, they'll have to guess/wonder/point to it and check the status bar. Why make them do that?
4:04 am on July 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I think you have to weigh several factors.

One is the design of the site. With some things, the links are obvious even without underlines. Examples would be navigation menus. You don't need menu items to be underlined for people to realize they need to click on it.

I have seen some sites use bold rather than underlines [webmasterworld.com] for links. Sometimes, that makes the links stand out even better than an underline, especially in paragraphs of text. The bold text pops out while underlined text may sometimes blend in.

And, depending on your site colors, leaving the links the standard colors may look bad.

You also want to consider what type of visitor you have. Do you have a site where people come in, find a link, click it and leave? If so, you might stick with standard link conventions so the links can be easy to spot so that they can get in and out of your site to their destination.

On the other hand, if your site is meant to be one people will visit again and again, then you have a bit more flexibility with your linking designs. If they will be spending a lot of time on your site, they will learn your site's conventions.
7:38 pm on July 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Thank you very much everyone for the helpful info. I've gone from non-underlined to underlined hyperlinks.
7:36 am on July 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

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So far, I've kept standard colours, but I only underline on Hover. Most of my links are in nav sections where it should be clearer that they are links anyway and underlining them all is rather overwhelming.
3:22 pm on July 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Using a different color for the links and without any underlining I believe works very well and something we have been doing for years. It is controlled within the style.css file.
3:49 pm on July 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I prefer not to impose my style on hyperlinks.
5:06 pm on July 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I need to clarify.

I do have links that are only underlined on hover (nav links, article links and the like); ones that are obvious links. I have gone back to underlining links within articles. They are mid-colored blue, so I think the underlining is helpful.
3:47 am on July 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I don't underline links within articles, a different color than the rest of the black text is enough.

I do however underline links in the sidebar where people expect links. No complaints yet.
2:24 am on July 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

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In terms of usability, two visual cues are better than one. Depending on site design, underlined links might make a site look a bit dated, but form shouldn't take precedent over function.

If you did go with no underlines, then adding different hover colour is another important cue that says "You guessed correctly. This is a link".

If your objective is to discourage visitors from leaving, on the other hand, then a different-coloured link with no underline or hover is the way to do it and still remain white hat.
1:12 pm on July 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Don't make me think.
9:00 pm on July 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I believe that links should be clearly different from any other element on the website, such as bold text, headlines, and other things.

Personally, I underline the links that lead away from the page with a solid line, and all the "action" links, which don't actually lead anywhere, with a dashed line.
9:28 am on July 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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yes links should be clear to visitor's eyes in all the content like should be bold or italic or in different color etc.
12:23 pm on Aug 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

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right....
webmasterworld [webmasterworld.com] has a lot good ideas.
5:55 am on Aug 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

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welcome to WebmasterWorld [webmasterworld.com], magenforts!