Skip links: visible or hidden?
Most sites built by accessibility-aware web professionals these days either use skip links of some kind or are constructed in a way that makes it easy for non-mouse users to navigate without using skip links.
Just in case you aren’t familiar with the term, skip links are internal links that help users navigate to different parts of a page. They were originally intended as a navigation aid for people with disabilities, but they are a also very useful to mobile phone users.
Many different ways of implementing skip links have been described over the last few years, and ironically most methods involve hiding the links from many of those who need them the most. Let it be known that I’m guilty of using such methods myself.
Gez Lemon and Mike Cherim take a look at a few different ways of providing skip links, as well as more in-depth information on why they are needed Skip Link Pros and Cons, published at Accessites.org.
They come to slightly different conclusions, and I can relate to both. I understand a designer’s reluctance to make skip links visible, but I also agree with the point Gez makes about hidden skip links being difficult to use.
See also Jim Thatcher’s Skip Navigation Links for more in-depth information on various skip link techniques.