Teaching, Promoting, Cheering UX and SEO Since 2002

Freedom From Link Color Blue

It’s been a personal preference of mine to completely ignore that usability rule attributed to Jakob Nielsen that active links be the color blue and visited links be purple. When those colors clash with your page design curtins, it’s no wonder so many people tossed out underline link decoration to get rid of them. What colors you choose seemed like such a petty, inflexible rule.

So, in this E-consultancy interview with Jakob Nielsen, here was a surprise, when asked about what traditional usability rule he has changed his mind about:

Well there is one where I’ve changed my recommendation. It’s a very specific one but it is how you show hypertext links. I used to say they should be blue, but now it is they should be coloured. That’s because in the early days of the web, blue symbolised ‘click here’. But now any colour symbolises ‘click here’. That’s an example of where things can change because of people’s experiences.

Link communication is important. I just reviewed a site where I had no idea what text or image was clickable. My mouse was popping wheelies trying to figure out where to go. Visuals are vital to communicating to your visitors. If not black and white rules for blue and purple, what do we do? Visual Interface Design is one idea.

Just sayin’.

Left the House

I went to King of Prussia last night to get together with search marketing folks from Commerce 360 and Avenue Razorfish. Party planner, Liana Evans works so hard at keeping people networking and I owe her my thanks for reminding me to get out the house to do something for myself. Simon Heseltine got the award for driving the farthest. Li will likely blog about it later. She’s got some news (and I’ve been holding in THAT secret for awhile now) too. Well, her and somebody else. That’s the only hint I’ll give.

The King of Prussia gatherings may turn into a monthly gig. We have so much fun talking shop and industry related stuff, and also getting to know each other. I’ve had so many fly bys with Chris Boggs over the years but this was the first time I got to sit and really get to know him better. People have come from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Virginia (and Ohio, though officially he was working at client’s site in PA). Because it’s held in a resturant near the gigantic King of Prussia mall, there’s every excuse to take a day off or stay the night in one of the hotels nearby so you don’t have to rush back to work so early the next day.

Just sayin’.

The Men of SEO

Worth noting, mostly because nobody cares but me, is that in the pond of men at the King of Prussia gig last night, the only women from the local industry to show up were myself and Liana. Personally, the chance to feast my eyes on handsome men all evening was worth all the pretending that I was merely there for the conversation.

Just kiddin’.


  1. jenny's Gravatar jenny
    May 18, 2007    

    Umm, Nielsen changed his recommendation for the color of links years ago. And his recommendations are still dead on:


  2. May 19, 2007    

    The point of my post was to recommend and link to the interview for those who still believe this guideline. The fact is, there are usability practitioners who still write articles that say “all links should be blue and purple”. (I have never been one of them.)

    Ex. 50 Web Usability Tips to Attract and Retain Web Visitors, where the writer compiles the list based on research of Jakob Nielsen’s writing. He writes, “Follow conventions for web design (”blue for hypertext links“) This will allow site visitors to mainly focus on your content instead of using their mental power to learn how to use your website.” The article is dated May 11, 2007.

  3. May 20, 2007    

    I had a blast talking internet marketing geekery all night, although we always seem to be in different conversations! I’d love to do it once a month.

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