Beware of Hyperlink Blue

color wheel

Recently, a friend forwarded a marketing email from a well-respected networking organization. The email listed events and pertinent information relevant to me. I had my calendar and wallet out, ready to sign up and fork over some moolah. But I never got that far. Sad for me. Sadder for the networking organization.

As I scrolled through the email…and scrolled….and scrolled…my eyes glazed over and my blood pressure ticked up a notch. The marketer had employed an excessive amount of “hyperlink blue” and what I call “emergency red” for headlines and random emphasis of random words. After two minutes of focused attention but without comprehending a single thing, I closed the email with an “aaaaagh” as if I just discovered a garden snake in my kitchen.

Honestly, I’m a snob when it comes to email formatting. In fact, Hollywood studios rewarded my snobbery with a weekly paycheck to ensure that written communications to employees were as digestible as possible. I’m a snob because the audience WILL NOT READ the email if given any reason not to read it.

Sometime back in last millennia, the masterminds behind the Internet standardized the default hyperlink color to #0000ff with an underline. No, it’s not pretty. It is reminiscent of 1998, but millions of people associate that color blue with links. So, in my opinion, that blue color is off limits for anything other than links. And, actually, now that we have other options for link colors (i.e. a virtual web crayon box), let’s just leave #0000ff back in the ’90s.

A few thoughts to consider about links:

  • Use color sparingly. A solid rule of thumb is black or dark gray for the body copy, one headline color, and one link color. The eye-glazing networking email used six colors: black, blue, red, maroon, pink, and lighter blue. If you color random words or use too many colors, you start a visual competition with the headline and links.
  • Choose color wisely. When selecting a link color:
    • Be consistent – Pick one color for all links throughout your site or marketing piece
    • Match your color scheme – Choose a color that compliments an embedded image or logo
  • Underline links. Your audience expects links to be easy to find. Color and underline accomplishes that.

There’s much to say about the use of color in writing materials. This article in entrepreneur.com is a good place to start: The Psychology of Color in Marketing and Branding.

And when all the color talk inevitably makes you reconsider your home or office decor, check out 10 Color Theory Basics Everyone Should Know. It’s a great primer on color and inspirational design article.


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