Re: blue link special

Subject: Re: blue link special
From: "Paul Pehrson" <paulpehrson -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 3 Jul 2006 14:06:30 -0600

On 7/3/06, John Posada <jposada01 -at- yahoo -dot- com> wrote:

>...or users who print on a black and white
> printer, etc.

What do you care about how links are represented when you print the
document? Is there a way of clicking a link from a printed page?

John Posada

Well, obviously they aren't going to click a link from a printed page.
Give me a little bit of credit here. As you can see from my answer, I
was giving a general warning about using color; I wasn't giving a
specific response to obair81's original question.

And in my own defense, the advice I gave is good general advice from a
design perspective.

When you use only color to indicate that something is different about
a particular string of text, then you run the risk of alienating part
of your user audience. My first example dealt in general with the area
of accessibility. Of particular concern are colorblind users who may
have difficulty differentiating the color from the rest of the body of
text. My second example dealt with the inherent inconsistencies in the
way end users access our documentation. Some use it online and can
follow links while others print the documentation to use as a

If the user of the printed document can't differentiate the subtle
color shift to indicate that there is a link in the on-line version of
the document, then your user will not benefit from the knowledge that
additional information is readily available via a link in the
electronic copy.

So in reference to your question, John, no I don't expect a user to
click on a link from a printed page. But I do think that I have a
responsibility as a designer and writer to provide documentation via a
method that doesn't inherently alienate users who either have
accessibility issues, or choose not to read the documentation on the

In general, this is good advice. You'll have to adapt it for your
users based on what you know about them. If you know that you have
non-colorblind users who will never print the documentation for any
reason, then by all means, use color alone for your links. If you
can't guarantee this scenario, then you should at least be aware that
your choices are limiting your documents usefulness to potential

Paul Pehrson

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Re: blue link special: From: Paul Pehrson
Re: blue link special: From: John Posada

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