Achieving accessible web design: Part 2 – Accessify your hyperlinks

Last week, I talked about the importance of accessible web design and how to easily make the images on your website more accessible. This week, I’ll be talking about making your hyperlinks more accessible.

Colour and appearance

Links are the backbone of the web, without them people would have to know the web address of every single page they wanted to visit and manually type it into their address bar or become google experts. As hyperlinks are so crucial it is imperative that they are noticed by your website’s visitors.

I’ve seen so many web agencies produce links that are not distinguishable from the text around them. Links should be noticeable, not necessary blue and not necessary underlined but certianly a different colour to the main body text of the website and preferrably underlined.

Link text wording

The actual wording of your links is also crucial for both accessibility and search engine optimisation (SEO). When using a screen reader people can choose (and often do choose) to have all the links on a page read out in a list before checking anything else. This way they can quickly find where they need to go. In this situation, your links become out of context so if all your links say click here that soon stops to mean anything without it’s surrounding text.

It is also annoying if you have countless links all going to the same page or if your links all start with similar text. In this instance, you’re annoying people and potentially driving them to a competitor’s website.


In SEO terms, search engine attach importance to link text, therefore if 20,000 people link to a particular website with the phrase ‘blah-de-blah-blah‘ then there is a good chance that people searching google for ‘blah-de-blah-blah‘ will find that particular site at the top of the results.

This is evident if you search google for ‘click here’ the top of the list is the hompeage for Adobe acrobat. The reason this is at the top is because so many people say click here to download adobe acrobat.

As a web developer, you sometimes need something to happen when someone clicks a link, howveer if you make your links completely reliant upon JavaScript you cna get problems if people without JavaScript can’t follow them. People without JavaScript may be less than 1% but crucially when Google spiders your website it once notice that link either!

There are plenty of good ways to turn a link int a javascript link only if the user has javascript installed. This method is called unobtrusive javascript and is the safest way to apply javascript.

Provide a sitemap

A sitemap is useful for the 4 groups:

  1. People using screen-readers
  2. People using mobile phones
  3. Google/Yahoo/MSN robots
  4. Everyone, come to think of it

A sitemap, listing everypage, or every major page on your website is great for everyone as they get quickly scan through and find everything. It’s a especially good for the search engines as they can see all your pages and index them accordingly.

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