Accessibility and links

Navigation via links is the biggest problem that people with visual impairments have on the web (see a recent survey by WebAIM and research done here at Microsoft). Links are very important for accessibility.

Links need to be meaningful. The text of the link should make sense when you read it and when you hear it read aloud. It's just good usability. It's important to let the reader (or listener) know what's going to happen. Apply the following best practices when you author your links:

  • Do describe the destination in the link text—for example, the name of a document or the title of a webpage you're linking to.
  • Don't use vague phrases such as "Click here" or "Learn more." Instead, use a meaningful phrase that gives the user enough information, for example, "for more information, see What's new in version 2.5."
  • Do tell the user if the link goes to a new webpage, such as "Go to the Office 365 home page."
  • Do embed document titles in a meaningful sentence, such as "If you're unsure of your options, see What is Intune?."
  • Don't use a URL for the link text unless it's very short, such as http://msw. Screen readers read a URL aloud. A long URL means that the listener hears a long string of single characters.
  • Do make it clear if you're using a fictitious URL, such as the web address for a fictitious company, that the URL is not an active link.