Colin Nederkoorn

Links should always be blue and underlined

An old strong opinion, weakly held.

2010-03-10

So you thought it would be clever to make your links pretty? Don't do it! If you're short on time, follow these simple rules:

  • Unvisited links should be blue and underlined
  • Visited links should be purple and underlined
  • Active links should be red and underlined

Searching for "links should be blue" turns up enough reading for an afternoon. This is a topic that has been discussed to death, but still isn't widely understood.

How to break the rules.

Breaking the blue link rule without understanding it makes usability a disaster.

There are a few good places to break the rule though. Navigation,  Buttons, Blog Item Headers. You need to be sure to communicate the right information to your users. A good place to start understanding links is Smashing Magazine's  "The Definitive Guide to Styling Web Links"

Rules are meant to be broken. Do it in a way that considers the rules rather than confuses people.