Is blue the best color for link?

Every now and then, I stumble upon a blog post or article suggesting that hyperlinks should always be blue and purple to hint that the link is a link. While, I do believe that it should always be possible to spot what is clickable and what is not – without clicking on- or hovering over the object – I do not believe that the actual link color needs to be anything else than distinctive.

Categorized in: design considerations, links, link color, affordance

It’s about affordance: giving visual clues to the function of an object. I would postulate that wether the link is red, blue, green, black, or white does not make much difference as long as it is distinguishable from non-clickable content. It is not the color of the link alone that makes it recognizable as a link: the color is not the pattern, a different color and underlining is.

Consider the image below. It has snapshots of 7 different sites, where only one features blue link color. Still, it is not harder to spot the where the links are located in the other 6 snapshots.

If anything should be said about the visual design of text links, a number of principles can be listed:

  • A color different from the color of the main content enhances the link’s distinguishability.
  • Choosing a color that is brighter than- or at least in contrast to- the main text color enhances the link’s distinguishability.
  • Underlining a link enhances the links distinguishability.
  • Any mouse-over behavior should have a highlighting effect.
  • Links with different targets (for instance target=“_blank” for external links) should be clearly distinguishable.
  • Title attributes should be descriptive as to where the link will take you.

About the author


Anders Toxboe builds websites with an outstanding team at Benjamin Interactive in Copenhagen, Denmark. He also founded and a series of other projects.

Published on 15 Jul, 2009


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