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10:6 Use Text for Links

Relative Importance:

Relative Importance rating of 4 out of 5

Strength of Evidence:

Strength of Evidence rating of 4 out of 5

Document Type: Guideline




Use text links rather than image links


Text links are more easily recognized as clickable, download faster, and are preferred by users. It is easier to convey a link’s destination in text, rather than with the use of an image. Text links allow users with deactivated graphics, or text-only browsers to see navigation options.


  • Detweiler, M.C. & Omanson, R.C. (1996). Ameritech Web Page User Interface Standards and Design Guidelines. Ameritech (now SBC).
  • Farkas, D.K. & Farkas, J.B. (2000). Guidelines for designing web navigation. Technical Communication, 47(3), 341-358.
  • Koyani, S.J. & Nall, J. (1999, November). Web site design and usability guidelines. National Cancer Institute, Communication Technologies Branch Technical Report. Bethesda, MD.
  • Mobrand, K.A. & Spyridakis, J.H. (2002). A web-based study of user performance with enhanced local navigational cues. Proceedings of the IEEE International Professional Communication Conference, 500-508.
  • Nielsen, J. (2000). Designing Web Usability. Indianapolis, IN: New Riders.
  • Spool, J.M., Scanlon, T., Schroeder, W., Snyder, C., & DeAngelo, T. (1997). Web Site Usability: A Designer’s Guide. North Andover, MA: User Interface Engineering.
  • Zimmerman, D.E., Akerelrea, C.A., Buller, D.B., Hau, B., & LeBlanc, M. (2002). Integrating usability testing into the development of a 5-a-day nutrition Web site for at-risk populations in the American Southwest. Journal of Health Psychology.

Poor Example:

The meanings of these two image links are not obvious at first glance.


Good Example:

The meaning of these three images are fairly clear, even if the accompanying text was not present.