Writing and Adding Links

A general introduction to building links and references in the UBCMS.

On this page:

Accessibility
  • Additional Label Text setting.
  • Beware of duplicate link text.
  • Images require Alt text (when they are links).
  • Use 'Open in New Window' sparingly.

> Read more.

Last reviewed: September 22, 2021

Writing good link text is an art as well as a science.  

  • Be Specific: The text should clearly describe where they will land next and why they are being sent there. Vague language like "read more" fails that task; "read more about our application process" would be better.
  • Be Sincere: Link text should set an accurate expectation of what is next and fulfill that promise. Do not promise to provide detailed information in a linked resource if that destination barely mentions the topic in question.
  • Be Substantial: Links should be labeled so that they stand alone if removed from the context of the page. Avoid slang and acronyms. Do not get too clever or cute with your language.
  • Be Succinct: Use clear language for better understanding and ease of scanning. Make your text as short as possible to fulfill all of these goals.
Additionally, for accessibility reasons:
  • Multiple links to different destinations should not use the same text.
  • Multiple links to the same destination should not use different text. But ideally you should only have one link to each destination on a page.

Links can be added to your UBCMS pages using the settings within many UBCMS components, including text components, Titles, Photos, Buttons, Calls to Action, and lists.

Some of these components have a specific 'Link to' field for the URL, while text components (Body Text, Caption, Intro Text) rely on in-text 'Hyperlinks' set using the Rich Text Editor.

Digital Assets should ONLY be provided using a File Download component.

The 'Link to' setting in a Photo component.

The 'Link to' setting in a Photo component.

'Hyperlink' setting in a Body Text component.

'Hyperlink' setting in a Body Text component.

Mailto's

Mailto's (links that load an email message) are just like any other link. 

Select your text and add a link, but in this case, the link prefix will be "mailto:" (or "mailto://") plus whatever email you wish to use; e.g. "mailto:someone@yoursite.com".

To add a subject line, include an extra parameter of "?subject="; e.g. "mailto:someone@yoursite.com?subject=Mail from Our Site".

Linking to the Top of the Page

On pages that are long or provide very detailed content (such as FAQs), it may prove useful to provide an easy way for your readers to quickly navigate back to the top of the page.

Link to #skip-to-content

Anywhere you can add a link, such as in text, a Call to Action component, Title, etc., if you type in "#skip-to-content" for the link, it will scroll back to the top of the center column.

Example of 'back to top' link set in a Call to Action component.

Example of 'back to top' link set in a Call to Action component.

Example in Use

Click the 'Call to Action' link below—the browser will shift to the top of the page. (This will not be as obvious as it would on a long page.)

For links to external websites (pages on other websites, even if they are also within the UBCMS), always include the prefix (usually http:// or https:// for secure pages).

Linking to Email

To link to an email address, use mailto: plus the email address (no space); e.g. mailto:dcthelp@buffalo.edu. When a visitor clicks  that link, their computer will attempt to load their email client. The displayed part of the link can of course be anything you prefer.

Linking to a Phone Number

Many smart phones will automagically recognize phone numbers and try to call the displayed number, but to make a phone number fully clickable, try tel:+ plus the full phone number. Generally we suggest not to include any hyphens or parentheses. E.g. tel:+7166456969 is University Communication's main number. When a visitor clicks that link, their computer will attempt to load their phone client. The displayed part of  the link can of course be anything you prefer.

Open in New Page Setting

Most 'link to' and hyperlink settings in UBCMS components have an optional companion setting that requires the links to 'Open in new window' (or tab) of the browser.

For external links, this setting is a best practice, so that when a site visitor clicks a link to another website, your page stays open in the browser so the visitor can always find it again.

Also, within the Author environment, some external links do not open normally unless this setting is selected (or the author forces the link to open by right-clicking or by depressing the Control or Shift key while clicking the link). This confusing behavior is part of the browser's normal security protections, which make it difficult to open an insecure (http://) link from within a secure (https://) site such as the Author environment.

The 'Open in new page' setting in a Photo component.

The 'Open in new page' setting in a Photo component.

The 'Open in new page' setting in a Body Text component.

The 'Open in new page' setting in a Body Text component.

For links to other UBCMS pags, use a relative URL, without the http:// prefix.  These URLs will normally begin '/content/www/your-site/...' or '/content/your-school/...' for decanal areas). We suggest you always use the magnifying glass picker tool to ensure you choose the correct page and capture the URL correctly.  

'Hyperlink' setting in the Rich Text Editor of a Body Text component, highlighting the magnifying glass picker tool.

'Hyperlink' setting in the Rich Text Editor of a Body Text component, highlighting the magnifying glass picker tool.

Except for lists and slide decks, links to unpublished or nonexistant UBCMS pages will be broken on your live site and will generate a 404 error ('no such page'). > Read more about this Known Issue: Links to Unpublished Pages Can Be Broken on Live Sites

It is possible to link to a specific section within a Web page, using an 'anchor', basically a named target within a compnent on that page. If you examine the URL, you will see it is immediately followed by a hash plus a keyword; e.g. 'http://www.buffalo.edu/president.html#abcde' (where 'abcde' is the anchor).  

When a page is linked in this manner, the browser should automatically load the page down to that section.

A number of  UBCMS components can hold anchors. Titles can be designated as anchors using the 'Id' field, while text components (Body Text, Caption, Intro Text) use the 'Anchor' tool in the Rich Text Editor. Tabs and the Collapsible Content Container can also hold anchors, and will then load with their content displayed.

'Id' setting in a Title component, in this example named "anchor-links.".

'Id' setting in a Title component.

'Anchor' setting in a Body Text component.

'Anchor' setting in a Body Text component.

The error message for a broken link.

Example of the error message for a broken link in a list.

The UBCMS provides some built-in link checking for automated components (e.g. Lists) that have relative links to other UBCMS pages, but not for external links, and does not do validation for links for links in text components (Body Text, Caption, Title, etc). Links to unpublished or nonexistent UBCMS pages will generate a 404 error ('no such page').

For Lists with broken UBCMS links, the UBCMS will flag a bad internal UBCMS link with a red error message that only shows in Author. This warning will not appear on your published page.

We strongly encourage you to be very careful when building out your links, and when moving or deleteing pages to ensure you do not accidentally create broken links.

The Outbound Link Report can also help you to manage your links in general. This displays everything your UBCMS pages link to, including other UBCMS pages, downloads, images, lists and external links.

Also, SiteImprove provides link checking as one of its services.

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