Web Tip: The Importance of Web Linking

The Internet is built on connections. These connections bridge one computer to many others.  As a result we can access an abundance of information quickly and easily.

To get around the Internet we click on links.  Now think of these link in the same way the synapses of the brain are formed.

With website design one of the most important feature that is required is a way to link from one page to another.  Having a dead link is like crashing into a brick wall.  It stops you in your tracks.

As a web designer I make it a point to include a link on nearly every page I design.  These links are important.  If there were no links there would be no other place to go and get additional information.

A website had different kinds of links.  There are unspoken standards of design that should be followed for better usability.  Messing with these convention can have a negative effect on the user.  And as a designer I don’t want to see that.  Understanding the rules of convention that need to be followed is the first step in understanding.

When you look a typical website you can imagine it is like a book.  A book holds several pages.  These pages are often categorized in chapters.  A web page can be likened to pages of a book.

The two types of links: Internal and External

Let’s begin with Internal links.  These are the links that join content within your website.  If we look at the book example.  The Index or the Table of Contents of a book contain internal links that connects a page to another page in the same book.   On a website Internal links connect pages to other pages in the same website.  This allows a visitor to access the about us page from the home page though an internal link.

The other type of  link is the External link.  This link will move you from the current site you are on to another site.  In the book example this would be similar to a citation or reference.

Layout Conventions

Over time more users and website are added and certain assumption about the location of certain links.

One of the most common location for internal links is either horizontally across the top or vertically along the left margin of the page.  In nearly every case this will be the main navigation to the website.  Designer thought these area to be the most natural position for this grouping on links.  As a result these area are prominent in graphic design of the page.

You will also find internal links toward the bottom of the page.  This area is called the page footer.  Here you will find links of secondary importance or are more informational.

Within the body of the content you will usually find External link.  There are no set rules for this it is just a convention that has come out out common use.  The location of the link could be within the body text or as a reference note at the end of the content.

Keep in mind these ideas are only convention and not set in stone rules.  Designer have a lot of freedom to adjust the layout.  These variations can make surfing the web more intersting.  The important thing to remember is to not confuse of alienate your visitor.

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