The main point is, please do the basics. When designing a website, ensure controls with button-type behavior (interaction, affects the current page) are designed as buttons and regular text links (go to an external page, anchor on page, or external document) are designed like text links (such as blue underlined text).
When developing a website, ensure buttons are coded as buttons (the button or input element) and links are coded as links (the anchor element).
Here are some reasons why it’s so important:
accessibility and usability
a more robust website (support older user agents, non-JS, etc.)
lighter and less complex code
more consistent implementation so easier to maintain
Remember that for accessibility, no matter how much ARIA and trickery is done, there will mostly likely still be problems. When blurring the distinction between a button and a link, assistive technology (and/or the user) can be confused as to what’s what. View the beginning of this presentation by Derek Featherstone for a good example of this.
This advice sounds simple, but this elementary guideline is broken quite often; once you start to look, you’ll find it everywhere on the web, especially web apps. There’s no need to create confusion (the design) and to re-invent the wheel (the development). Sticking to the basics will make it easier for everyone, most importantly the user.
For an example of proper implementation, check out Easy Chirp.
Recently I attended Open Web Camp 6 (@OpenWebCamp) at the beautiful PayPal headquarters in sunny San Jose, California. Like every year, the event is coordinated by @JohnFoliot. If you want to review the Twitter feed, the hash tag is #OWC6.
Like last year, the cost of the event was only $10, and attendees get a nice lunch, a t-shirt, and some other swag. The networking was good and the energy was great!
There was a variety of topics but accessibility was the most prominent. Here are the highlights:
Derek Featherstone (@feather) presented Accessible Design: Which “everyone” do you mean? where he discussed accessibility challenges for users of assistive technology such as voice recognition and screen magnifiers.
A short while ago, my author @DennisL read the excellent book Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited by acclaimed usability professional Steve Krug. Dennis was so impressed with the book, he tweeted a series with quotes, mostly relating to accessibility (as well as design and usability). So in case you missed it, here they are:
Webpages require a prominent “You Are Here” indicator. ~Don’t Make Me Think Revisited (pgs 77-78) by @SKrug#webdesign#ux#dmmt