Let me bravely be an old fuddy duddy and remind Webmasters of something here:
Everyone… I really believe everyone using the Web knows that blue, underlined text signifies a link.
Unfortunately, here’s what I’m seeing a lot of nowadays:
– Linked text that looks practically indistinguishable from non-linked text
The dangers of this should be obvious. If people can’t tell that they can click on a word to go somewhere they want or to learn something new or perform an action, they aren’t going to click.
– Linked text that is somehow decorated in a “clever way.”
Dotted line. Boxed. Anything other than plain blue underlined text. See danger #1, albeit perhaps with a little less uncertainty and a little more annoyance.
Then there’s the opposite problem:
– Blue (colored exactly “link” blue) text used for non-linked text or headlines.
Why is this bad? Well, you’re telling the pre-conditioned surfer “Click on me!” when clicking does absolutely nothing. This confusion then undoubtedly causes many visitors to say, well, if this blue text isn’t clickable, what is?
* * *
Am I suggesting that Webmasters must absolutely positively use only the “right” blue colored underlined text for links? No. I am, however, saying that the further your text links stray from this known appearance, the more likely you are to have at least some of your visitors confused.
And no, scheming to “keep your visitors from leaving” is not a valid Web strategy, IMHO.
P.S.—Yes, I admit I’m being at least a bit hypocritical here, since the buttons on my menu above are neither blue nor is the text underlined. No one’s perfect… 😉