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Katie Albers <[log in to unmask]>
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Katie Albers <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 20 Mar 2009 01:32:04 -0700
text/plain (89 lines)
I think you're trying to solve the wrong problem here. The basic need  
is to make sure that users can keep track of which links are visited  
while distinguishing the links from explanatory text (although one  
thing you could do is make the whole thing a link - both the  
explanatory text and the link).

It is extremely important that users be able to determine which links  
have been visited. Without that, I'm sure you yourself know how  
frustrating it is to have visited some links and still exploring a  
site a not be entirely sure if you've already checked one and to have  
no clues to inform you. Especially in a list of 20, that can be  
extremely irritating, and unless a user is driven to find something  
that particularly exists on your site and only yours, you're likely to  
see massive abandonment problems.

To solve the issue there are a number of options: You can, as you  
noted, change the color of the visited link style, you can change the  
color of the description text (Grey is generally a bad choice for text  
you actually want to be read in any case. It's fairly hard to read.),  
or you can use the standard underlined text for links so that the  
links are distinguishable even when the link has been previously  

There are probably other methods, those are just the ones I came up  
with off the top of my head. Which method you use is, of course,  
dependent on design issues and testing. But I firmly believe that  
retaining the ability to locate which links have been followed is  
necessary. At least I've never seen a case when losing that  
information tested at all well.


Katie Albers
Founder & Principal Consultant
User Experience Strategy & Project Management
310 356 7550
[log in to unmask]

On Mar 19, 2009, at 7:53 PM, Abbo Peterson wrote:

> I'm curious if there are guidelines or findings about using the  
> a:visited link style in navigation links.
> I know there's a benefit to using a different color for the  
> a:visited link style, to help users get feedback about which links  
> they've viewed. That seems most valuable when the page contains many  
> links, whether they're long lists or embedded within text.
> My question is related to the use of the visited link style in a  
> text-based left side navigation. An example might be a navigation  
> list of 20 projects. When you click a link (colored white), you view  
> a project page with its own context-specific navigation. When you  
> return to the project listing page, imagine that link is now colored  
> gray.
> Add the complication that each navigation link has a couple-word  
> description under it, colored gray. Once you've visited the project  
> page, now the navigation item and the description are both gray.  
> From a design standpoint, you've just made the navigation item  
> "invisible" and it doesn't stand out anymore.
> I'm very tempted to not use the visited link style, but I was hoping  
> to get some statistics or feedback about whether this style is used  
> much anymore.
> Thanks in advance.
> Abbo
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