Don't Use Pictures as Links

We see buttons and banners on websites all over the Internet. Why don't we use them on

Our usability experts researched this question thoroughly before making recommendations for the design templates we use, and we try to avoid using graphic buttons for several reasons:

  1. People tend to ignore things that look like ads. Eye-tracking research shows that website users focus mainly on the textual content of a page.
  2. Accessibility: Since not everyone can see or visually read a page, it's considered good form to let images be images and text be text. Even with alt tags, images tend to stand outside the flow of regular textual content, and people with visual or mobility impairments may have difficulty navigating a mouse to an item on a different part of the page in order to click on it.
  3. Images don't get translated when people view our site in another language.
  4. We want our authors to focus on content over design, since that is what our users will be doing (see point 1).

Tips for Making Web Content "Pop"

Making a page flashier or more colorful will only add distractions to your page; it won't help your users find the information they need. If people are having trouble finding your message, look at your content:

  • Cut "fluff" words like "welcome to" and "this is a resource for" in order to make important words like "conference registration" jump out from white space.
  • Use brief bullet points to call out key words or phrases.
  • Add headers to identify different sections of material.
  • Make your pages shorter so that people don't have to scroll or wade through a lot of text to find what's relevant to them.

For more on this topic, see Writing for the Web.