Creating links

Introduction

People come to a site looking for links that will take them to what they are looking for. They will click and scan the page they arrive on for the right information, and if they don’t find it they’ll scan the page for a likely link that will take them onwards to the right information, and so on. So links need to be easy to find and understand, as they serve as signposts allowing people to find their way around quickly and efficiently.

Links that appear in the navigation on the University website are generated from section names in Site Manager. The same principles for effective link text outlined in this guide apply to those links, but there is a separate guide to naming sections effectively. This guide focuses on how to make effective links in your page content.

Choosing effective link text

  • Make your link text clearly describe where you will go when you click the link. The text you use should be as short as possible but also long enough to identify where the link goes, or what you will do when you get there.
    eg
    ‘Go back to the home page’
    ‘Visit our virtual tours’
    ‘Find out more about our services for students’
  • Never use ‘click here’, or worse still ‘here’, or any other similarly vague link text, such as ‘Read more’, or ‘Find out more’, that doesn’t make sense out of context or clearly indicate the target of the link.
    • These are difficult for people scanning a page for onward links, who are looking for the relevant key words.
    • Having such key words in your link text can also help boost your page’s position in search engine results.
    • Link text that doesn’t make sense out of context also confuses people using screen-reading software, which can be set to read out just the links on a page.
  • Don’t use the same link text more than once on a page for links that go to different target pages. Different links need to be distinguishable from each other. So using ‘here’ as a link (which you should never do) to several different target pages from the same page is very bad practice in more ways than one. Equally, don’t use something like ‘our Accommodation site’ to link to different pages in that site from the same page – specify the particular page in the site which you are linking to:

    eg ‘For more information visit the prospective postgraduates’ accommodation page.’
  • Avoid using URLs for links in web page text. It is best practice to use a short self-explanatory phrase as a link.

    eg ‘See the Special Collections home page’ rather than ‘See as.exeter.ac.uk/library/about/special’

    This helps both users and your search engine rankings, since you are using the key words users are looking for in your link text and search engine robots will use these to index your page.
  • If your link is to open a file such as a pdf or Word document, or will open in a new window, then indicate this so the user knows what to expect.

    eg
    ‘Application form (pdf)’
    ‘UCAS website (opens in a new window)’

Creating links in Site Manager

Having established what your clear and effective link text will be, there are two main ways to link to other web pages or to specific content on other web pages:

  • linking to external pages (in sites other than the University site or to University pages not yet managed in Site Manager)
  • and linking to University of Exeter pages that are also managed within Site Manager.

Links to external web pages or University of Exeter web pages not within Site Manager

On the content template page, highlight the text to be linked and click on the ‘Insert Web Link’ button in the editing toolbar.

A popup window appears.

Link URL: Type in, or paste, the full URL of the web page you wish to link to, eg http://www.bbc.co.uk. You need to have the 'http://' included, but if you miss it, you will be prompted about it and Site Manager will put it in for you.

Anchors: This will list any anchors you have created earlier – internal page bookmarks you can use to make links from the top of your page to paragraphs on the same page. These will only exist if you have created them using the ‘Insert/edit anchor’ button. See instructions for ‘Creating internal page links using anchors’.

Target

The ‘Target’ determines where the link opens up, ie in the current window, or as a new window.  Best practice, and the default, is that it opens in the existing window. A target of ‘None (use implicit)’ will use the default value, so this can be left as is.

The only other alternative you might need to use from the drop-down menu is ‘New window (_blank)’ to open a link in a new window. This needs to be used very sparingly. Most users expect a link to open in the same window, and if they want to open one in a new window, it should really be their choice, not forced on them. You may think opening an external site in a new window prevents people from leaving your site. However, you don’t stop people leaving your site just by keeping your own pages available in a different browser window. Again, if they choose not to return to your pages, that’s their choice. People also use the browser’s Back button very frequently if they decide they want to go back to a page they’ve already visited; if a link opens in a new window and they want to come back to your page, they have to switch back to a separate browser tab or window, rather than just go back in the browser history, and this can be disorienting.

If you decide you need to open a link in a new window, then you must indicate this to the user by specifying it in the text, so they know what to expect. Eg ‘For further information please see the BBC website (opens in a new window).’

Title

In most cases you do not need to enter a Title, but you can do if you wish to add further information about the page the link is going to, eg if your link text within a sentence is ‘preservation of coral reefs’, and the link goes to the profile for a member of staff researching this area, you may like to add a link title stating ‘Profile of Professor Peter Mumby, Professor of Marine Ecology’.

The title will appear in most browsers as a tooltip when the user of your page hovers their mouse over the link. Some screen readers also read out link titles. However, since not all such software or all browsers display it, do not put anything vital in a link title. If the destination of the link is entirely obvious from your link text, which it should be, do not use a link title at all.

Never just repeat your link text in the title – it’s better to leave it blank than have this repetition, which can be annoying for screen reader users who may then hear the same text twice.

Class: You can ignore this field as we do not use it.

Click ‘Insert’.

The link is now shown as a hyperlink:

Email links

Use this same external link method to create an email link that opens an email with the target contact’s email address. In this case, though, rather than using a web address in the URL field of the Insert Link popup window, use ‘mailto:’ followed by the email address (with no space between it and ‘mailto:’). Eg,

 Links to University of Exeter pages maintained in Site Manager

Section links allow you to make links to other sections in the Site Manager structure. Always use this method when linking to other pages that are managed and published by Site Manager.

This method creates relative links based on the id of the section in the system, so that if a section is later moved elsewhere in the site structure, the links will not be broken because T4 will automatically update section links to it from other sections in the system. This can save you a lot of maintenance in fixing broken links and your users will still be able to find the pages you are linking to. For this reason, try to avoid deleting a section and replacing it with a new one with similar content, as you will not benefit from this automatic updating of section links.

Creating links to sections

To link to another page that is managed in Site Manager, navigate to the section where you want to create the link, and open the piece of content where you want the link text to appear.

Select the text you want for your link. Click on the ‘Insert section link’ button in the editing toolbar:

A popup will appear displaying the site structure in Site Manager.

Navigate to the section in the structure that you want to link to and click on its name.

Your highlighted text will now be linked to that section. When you hover over the link text in the content area, you will see the path to the section you have linked to in the structure.

Creating links to content

Sometimes content on a single page (section) in Site Manager is divided into separate pieces of content. This is how news stories are created in the News system, as separate pieces of content, so you will need to use this method to link to a news story.

Other pages may also be divided into chunks of content that can be linked to, eg

 

In this example if you wanted to link directly to the corresponding paragraph on ‘Car sharing’ from your page, highlight the text you want to use for your link and click the ‘Link to content’ button.

A popup will appear displaying the site structure in Site Manager.

 

Navigate to the section in the structure that you want to link to and click on its name. A second popup window appears displaying the list of content items in that section. Select the relevant content you want to link to from the list:

Your link to the selected content is created:

Creating internal page links using anchors

This page has content covering shops available in four different University locations, so a list of links is provided at the top of the page to allow quick links to each location:

To create these links, first you need to insert anchors in each part of the content that you want to link to. Place your cursor next to the heading or paragraph you want to link to and click the ‘Insert anchor’ button.

A popup appears where you enter the name for your anchor.

 

Anchor names must

  • be short and unique within the same page - do not use the same name for more than one anchor in your section
  • beall lower case
  • be composed of any of the letters a-z, and digits 0-9, but the only punctuation marks that can be used are hyphens (-), underscores (_), colons (:), and full stops (.)
  • always start with a letter, never any other kind of character.

Best practice is to use a single relevant and understandable word as the anchor name will appear at the end of the web address displayed in the browser address bar when the in-page link is clicked.

When you have put in the name, click ‘INSERT’.

An anchor symbol shows where you have inserted the anchor name:

Now you have your anchor to link to, set up the link by typing the link text at the top of the page, highlight it and click the ‘INSERT WEB LINK’ button.

Select the anchor from the Anchors drop-down menu:

Click INSERT. Your link is now inserted.

Continue until all your anchors and links are in place for the page.

Adding link sections in Site Manager

In t4 when adding a new section sometimes you will need to link to an external website or just link to another part of a website within t4 without wanting to mirror a page into your website. These are referred to as ‘link sections’ within t4.

Adding a link section allows you to add a link to the left hand menu of your website without having to create a whole new section with content in it. This way you can link directly from your navigation to content elsewhere in the University site rather than setting up a page to simply direct users off to another website.

To do this simply select ‘add section’ from the yellow drop down box. This will bring up the screen below:

Link section screengrab 1

Fill in the Name section text box and this will provide the link name as it will appear in your navigation.

At the bottom of the screen you will see a check box called ‘Make this a link section?’ (highlighted in pink).  If you check this button you will notice that the tabs at the top of the screen will disappear and be replaced by a single tab called ‘Details’. Click on this tab and the follow screen will appear:

Link section screengrab 2

Next to the Link Type you can choose either ‘Section’ or ‘External URL’.

If you want to have a link in the left hand menu of your site to another website within t4 then select the ‘Section’ option first. You can then choose where this link should point to by clicking on the ‘Select’ button next to the Link Section option to open up a site structure popup window, where you click on the section you want to link to.

If you want to link to an external website then simply select the ‘External URL’ option and then paste the address of the website you want to link to in the Link URL box.

In your main site structure you will see the following symbol against your link: Link section icon

This will look like this (highlighted in pink):

Link section screenshot 3

From the users point of the view the link will look like this on the website:

Link section screenshot 4

Top tip

Remember that it will not be possible to 'section link' to a 'link section'. This tool can only be used for linking in the left hand menu.