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Components

Link

Use: Deployed
A link is a navigation element that can appear alone, inline (embedded), or in a group with other links. A link can trigger a download, but in general links go to internal or external pages when clicked.

Examples

Default

View va-link in Storybook

Active

View active va-link in Storybook

Download

View download va-link in Storybook

Video

View video va-link in Storybook

  • Use when linking directly to a YouTube video.

Channel

View channel va-link in Storybook

  • Use when linking to a YouTube channel.

Usage

  • Navigation between pages. Navigating to another page (internal or external).
  • Navigation within a page. Anchor, or jump, to a specific header and section on a page.
  • Trigger an appropriate supporting application. Make email addresses and phone numbers open the relevant app by clicking or tapping them.
  • Collections, such as Hub pages. Active links can be seen on Hub pages
  • Less prominent links. For links that need less prominence than an Action link and may appear in a collection, we recommend using an Active Link. Active Links are accompanied by a right-facing chevron icon for more emphasis.
  • Downloading files. Use for download links including but not limited to PDFs and Excel files. The download icon is optional but encouraged.

When to consider something else

  • Use buttons for actions. Use a Button when you want to make a state change or submit a form. Example actions include, but are not limited to, “Add”, “Close”, “Cancel”, or “Save”. Buttons do things, links go places. Refer to guidance on Links vs. buttons
  • Use action links for calls-to-action. When you want to draw attention to an important call-to-action (CTA) on the page, such as a link that launches a benefit application, use an Action link. Calls-to-action are not actions themselves (see the previous point).
  • Table of contents. When you want to make a long page of content with two or more H2s easier to navigate, use an On this page link.
  • Triggering the generation of a PDF. When using for a PDF, use only for linking directly to a PDF, not as a trigger for a process that generates a PDF. For generating a PDF, use a button.

Behavior

  • Open in the same window except in certain instances. Links should only open in a new tab if clicking the link will result in the user losing progress or data. Otherwise, links should open in the same window.
  • Use semantically appropriate encodings. Encode email and phone links with mailto: and tel:, respectively.

Implementation details

If for some reason you do not use a link web-component links must meet the following criteria:

  • All links use Source Sans Pro (Regular), underlined, at 16px.
  • All links share the same color ($color-link-default #004795) for icon, link text, and underline.
  • All text links should be underlined. This is especially important for low-vision users. (Exception: side navigation links should not be underlined.)

Content considerations

Links should tell people what action to take, where to go next, or what information to expect when they select the link.

  • Use natural and descriptive language.
  • Hyperlink the most relevant word or phrase that describes the purpose and target (destination) of the link.
  • Don’t make the link so long that the relevant words get lost.
  • Avoid “Click here” as the CTA text.
  • Avoid generic CTA links like “Learn more,” “See more,” and “Read more” by themselves.
  • Don’t punctuate standalone CTA links. Exception: When the link text is a question.
  • If the embedded link text comes at the end of a sentence, don’t hyperlink the ending punctuation.
  • When a link opens a PDF, YouTube video, XLS or other file format, use the appropriate link variation.

Like this

Use natural language, and link relevant words

If your disability gets worse, file for a VA disability compensation increase.

Apply for a United States burial flag to place over a casket or coffin, or place with an urn. Learn more about burial flags

Not this

Avoid “click here” and generic CTA text

Click here to file for a VA disability compensation increase if your disability gets worse.

Apply for a United States burial flag to place over a casket or coffin, or place with an urn. Learn more

Use embedded text links to cross-link related, helpful information

Embedded text links are hyperlinks that are part of running text in body copy. We use them to link people to related, but not essential, information.

  • Because too many embedded links can be distracting or overwhelming to readers with traumatic brain injuries or other cognitive impairments, we try to not overuse them.
  • Link information when it will be helpful to the Veteran, and it’s related to the subject being discussed, not just for the sake of linking.

Use CTA links to call out actions

CTA links are standalone hyperlinks that are calls to an action, but that don’t warrant a primary button CTA.

We generally reserve button CTAs to launch an application, to sign in, or other primary, essential action on a page. But there are other kinds of actions that may call for a CTA as a text link, like downloading a form, learning about important information (like eligibility or copay rates, etc.).

Like this

In this example, the link is an action related to the topic, but it isn’t the primary CTA, which is to use the online application.

You can apply online or mail your Application for Burial Benefits (VA Form 21P-530).

Download VA Form 21P-530 (PDF, 5 pages)

Not this

In this example, the action gets lost as an embedded text link.

You can apply online or mail your Application for Burial Benefits (VA Form 21P-530).

Accessibility considerations

  • Material honesty: Do not style a link to look or behave like a button (material honesty).
  • Keyboard navigation: The user must be able to navigate to links using the Tab key and activate links using the Enter key.
  • Purpose and target: Without a purpose and target, everyone– but especially screen reader users– will struggle to understand where they may be routed off to.
  • Using links and buttons intentionally results in a more inclusive experience for assistive technology users. Make sure to read both buttons and Action Link guidance to determine when you should use each component.
  • It is important to use Action Links for calls to actions that link to another page rather than buttons, because screen readers always say “link” before links, and “button” before buttons.
  • A good rule is if the action changes the URL, it should not be a button.
  • Button and link confusion can be very frustrating for assistive technology users. A user with a screen reader may pull up a list of links and may not find a specific link because it turns out that it’s been designated as a button in the markup.
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Last updated: Aug 31, 2022