* - Links - Links with Unclear or Non-Descriptive Text

What the issue is

Links with unclear or non-descriptive text, such as "click here," "more," or simply "link", provide little to no information on the destination of the link or the action it will perform. This practice fails to convey the purpose or relevance of the link, making navigation difficult, especially for those using assistive technologies like screen readers. Without a clear understanding of where a link will take them, users may struggle to navigate a site effectively or be hesitant to follow links, which can deter from the overall user experience.

Links with non-descriptive text also impact on navigation within screen-readers which typically provide the option to list all the links on a page  to browse and navigate directly to. When the links do not carry sufficient meaning or content, this breaks usage of the assistive technology. Websites that break "regular" assistive technology fail to conform with web standards even if the site technccally passes all WCAG succes criteria. As such no site would legally be bale to claim conformance to legislation that required WCAG conformance. See Section 5.2.4 of WCAG 2.2 for further guidance.

Why this is important

Descriptive link text is crucial for all users, especially for those using screen readers. Users rely on the link text to make informed decisions about whether to follow a link. Non-descriptive link texts force users to seek additional context elsewhere, which can be frustrating and time-consuming. Ensuring that link text is descriptive improves usability and accessibility by helping users navigate more efficiently and confidently.

Who it affects

This issue affects:

  1. Users of screen readers and other assistive technologies who rely on descriptive link texts to understand the link's purpose without needing additional context.
  2. Users with cognitive disabilities who benefit from clear and straightforward navigational cues.
  3. General users looking for efficient navigation, as descriptive links enable quick scanning of content to find relevant information or actions.

How to remediate the issue

  1. Replace generic link texts with descriptive texts that clearly state the purpose of the link or the nature of the destination page.
  2. Avoid using URL addresses as link text, unless the URL is descriptive and meaningful to the user.
  3. Ensure that link text makes sense out of context, as screen reader users may navigate by listening to a list of links.
  4. Provide additional descriptive text if the link's purpose cannot be conveyed succinctly in the link text alone, either by modifying the link text or by adding screen reader-only text that provides clarification.

Guidance on making links accessible can be found at WCAG Quick Reference on Link Purpose (In Context).