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Mobile Learning Design
Training Professionals

Multimedia transcript

Audio Transcript (1.6MB, MP3)Video Summary (7.2MB, MP4)

Links and navigation

After completing this module, you will be able to:

  • Describe the importance of links and navigation in mobile learning
  • Define links and navigation
  • Describe best practices regarding  Uniform Resource Identifiers  (URI’s)
  • Describe best practices with respect to Balanced Structure
  • Describe best practices regarding Links

Navigation lets users know where they are in a web site, especially one with many pages. They prevent users from becoming trapped in dead-end pages. Links provide users with accurate and descriptive information about the target (destination), providing them the choice to go there or not.


Web users select and click on a hypertext link on a starting page, which then causes a new page to load. Users continue toward their goal by finding and clicking on subsequent links.


The method used to find information within a web site. Navigation assists web users to locate and link to destination pages. A web site’s navigation scheme and features should allow users to find and access information effectively and efficiently.

Best practices

Uniform Resource Identifiers

Use short easy to type URIs.

By keeping site entry points of URIs short, it reduces the chance of error and provides a more satisfactory user experience.

URI’s are used to identify a name or resource on the internet. When you type the location of a website into a browser you are using a URI known as a URL (uniform resource locator) to go to the home page. Space is limited on mobile devices and users are often working with them one-handed. Having to type a long filename discourages users, so if possible, configure Web sites so that they can be accessed without having to specify a sub-domain as part of the URI.

Excellent example: http://example.org.
Poor example: http://www.example.org/launch.html.

Balanced structure

Carefully consider the site design to balance links and content on each page.

Design mobile pages so that frequently accessed information can be quickly and easily reached.


  • Users often become frustrated if more than four links are navigated before reaching the desired content.
  • Scrolling pages with many links can cause frequent pauses in scrolling as each link is selected in turn.
  • Every retrieval of a linked page takes time and adds to potential download cost for users.


Mobile devices have special needs when designing links.

Users will appreciate designers who:

  • Increase the clickable area around links
  • Make the buttons larger
  • Clearly identify the target of each link
  • Use the default colour blue, which changes to purple once clicked

Their sites will have less fat finger errors, unnecessary downloads (clicking a site you have no interest in), and delays (waiting for a page you thought you clicked).

Further reading

(PDF) Usability.gov Navigation

(PDF) Usability.gov Links

Howto.gov navigation guidelines

W3C Mobile Web Best Practices 1.0

Reflection questions

Reflect on the following questions. Feel free to share your responses by leaving a comment!

Have you ever been directed to an additional reference site automatically when reading the content? How did you feel? Were you concerned about the extra download? Frustrated by the time wasted?

Keep track of how many links it takes to get to desired content on your favorite sites. Is it less than four links? Less than six? What do you do if it is more than six links and you have not arrived at the desired content?

Share your reflections

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Shared reflections and comments

3 Responses to “Links and navigation”

Sharon Misfeldt • July 10th, 2011

1. I have never been redirected on a mobile site but I have on my pc. It is very frustrating to have my time wasted as my available time on the computer is limited due to all my other daily responsibilities.
2. I have found that if I have to go further than 4 or 5 links that I close that site and move on to the next reccommended site on the list.

Becky • July 11th, 2011

I can’t say I’ve ever been automatically redirected when using a mobile device – I guess most web designers get it!
If it takes me too make links to get to what I’m looking for, I just use the search function and bookmark the page. So I guess I’ve figured out strategies to work around bad design!

Steven • July 12th, 2011

yes.. or have had popups while reading text. It was always annoying and distracting.

Generally less than 3 links. I look for an alternate site if it takes too long to get to the content I want.

© 2011 MDDE 615 Mobile Learning Group