Importance of Link Colors II: Bad Practices

Written September 1. 2000, at 09:40 GMT.

This graphic essay is written as a follow-up to my older essay The Importance of Link Colors Communicating Interactivity with Graphic Design. This time I show examples of "bad link design".

Note: This piece never reached past the status of "work in open progress". Judge it as such.

Here I show real-life examples of what I mean when I claim that "a web page with no immediately visible [or confusing] hyperlinks is like a scared little animal playing dead." Then merely looking at it is not enough to know where to click, "we have to find a stick and poke it to see if it is really alive".

Some of the examples are from web sites in Icelandic. This should help non-Icelandic speaking readers to look beyond language and standardized icons and focus on the more primitive, and immediate, visual communication of the design.

The screen-shots come in pairs. One is totally unedited, while the second has all the actual links highlighted so readers can see how well they did spotting the links.

www.vefsyn.is - as seen on Sep. 1st 2000

www.vefsyn.is

The main entry page of a web development and consulting firm. The site is green on a gray and white canvas and things have a friendly rounded feel to them.

The question is where are the links on this nicely designed page. Think carefully and then think again. See if you can get them all right.

www.vefsyn.is - links revealed

Feel surprised about a few things? Me too! Who would have thought that the plump, round, drop-shadowed buttonish looking headlines in the middle of the page were not links.

Compare them to the rather inconspicuous looking gray button links at the top of the page.

Furthermore, can you spot the difference between the round green line with white text at the top of the page, and the round green line with white text on top at the bottom of the page?

The biggest problem with this page is that the designer committed the mortal sin of using exactly the same color for links and dead page decorations.

www.mbl.is/frettir - as seen on Sep. 1st 2000

www.mbl.is

The main page of an daily news site. The company is rooted in an established print news-paper and it shows. The design is light and simple. Black text on white background - much like as if it were a printed page.

The page looks mostly dead, exept maybe for the blue text a the bottom that experience tells us is often the color of links. Apart from that there is only the odd color-spot (small!) here and there to hint at the ineviateble fact that there must be links off the page. There are, furthermore, a few elements that look somewhat buttonish but the effect is vague.

Lets take a look and see how we did. What is clickable and what is not.

www.mbl.is - links revealed

...!

www.bjork.com - as seen on Oct. 11th 2000

www.bjork.com

Nice looking site. Red seems to be the key...

www.bjork.com - links revealed

Surprised?


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