Related link: http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/www/links.html
While reading the recent chromatic O’Reilly developer posting Good Hyperlink, Bad Hyperlink, I looked at the referenced page, followed through some other links, and ended up at the essay “Links Want to Be Links” by Tampere University of Technology’s Jukka Korpela. It’s a thorough discussion of link formatting, with the underlying message being that we shouldn’t mess with defaults, because consistent formatting (for example, blue underlined text for hyperlinks) makes web use more intuitive for everyone, especially visually impaired people.
Much of the advice is pretty extreme, or as he puts it at one point, “puristic,” but whether you agree or disagree with his points (and whether or not you’re innocent of all charges he makes—I’m certainly not), anyone interested in linking will learn something from his methodical discussion of text link formatting, image link formatting, the best use of the associated attributes, and the potential role of CSS. For example, I always knew that “click here” as anchor text (for example: click here) was bad form, but now I have a better idea why. From now on, I’ll imagine each of my anchor text phrases pulled out of context into a list of the document’s links, and I’ll try to write them so that they make sense in that context. Even if that particular list is never created, knowing that the information can be re-used that way means that it can be re-used other ways as well, and greater possibilities for content re-use mean greater value for that content.
Are there any good counterarguments out there?