By Sarah Horton on April 25, 2009 11:58 AM | No Comments
Since the days of the typewriter, the thing that has most vexed those of us who care about typography is underlining. Underlines harass type, bumping up rudely against baselines and slicing through descenders. One of the golden moments for typophiles was when CSS allowed us to turn off underlining on links! There was much rejoicing.
But like many characteristics of the web, while it may not be pretty, underlining has a very important function. Underlines are the most reliable way to differentiate link text from other text on the page. Sure, you can color links, but people who can't distinguish colors miss that cue. On the other hand, underlined links are identifiable to all visual users.
Roger Johansson has a good post on this topic, Let your links look like links, and references Jakob Nielsen's Visualizing Links article. It's good to be reminded of one of the most basic but most important aspects of universal usability in the web environment. A web page without links is like a car without a steering wheel.
Readability is a browser-based utility that strips the framing and ad junk from online articles, and also allows you to pick a comfortable reading size and column width. It doesn't work on every site, but if you do a lot of reading from computer screens you may find Readability very useful.
A wonderful short article by user experience guru Peter Morville on the physical and mental artifacts we deliver as user experience and web design professionals. Peter's name should sound familiar: he was kind enough to provide a foreword to our latest version of the Web Style Guide.