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We have a discussion in my team about links into mobile apps.

Developer said links shouldn't be underlined. But in complex mobile apps sometimes, we have link to different entities.

I can see that kind of recommendations from Adobe XD blog:

Avoid links in mobile apps Do not use underlined links in mobile apps. Underlined links are a part of the website model, not a part of the app model. Apps should have buttons, not links.

I am ok to have buttons most of the time, but sometimes, we really need links because buttons everywhere will overload the screen.

The explanation about underlined links are for web only is not enough for me.

So, is there a real best practice about avoiding underline links in mobile app? Do you have studies or "authority best practices" about that?

Thank you :)

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We can't avoid using links in mobile apps. If links should be underlined in mobile apps? Think about it - why we usually underline the links in website?

One of the reason is to be accessible to people who can’t identify colors. Mostly we will give the text another color when it’s a link. But sometimes an achromatopsia sufferer can not tell the difference from normal texts and colored texts with a link.

Underlining the links is a solution to make sure everyone knows they can be clicked.

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    There are also other options to indicate something is clickable. Bold font weight or or a different background. It does not have to be underlined.
    – Nash
    Apr 14 at 8:21
  • 1
    @Nash, it may not have to be underlined, but that has been a convention for link highlighting from the beginning.
    – Tim Holt
    Apr 14 at 18:02
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Although your post does make some mention of "button vs link", I don't think that is actually part of the question, so I will not talk about that area. I will assume you are happy to use links and you just want to know if they should be underlined.

However, I will say that having many buttons is not a reason to not use them. If it's looking cluttered, then redesign the buttons so they feel less cluttered when there are lots of them.

Why do we underline links in the first place?

The reason for this is so that it is obvious to the user that they can be clicked. Typically, underlining the links will ensure they stand out from normal (unclickable) text. This is important so the user is aware that they can interact with them.

Should you use underlined links or not?

Unfortunately, it depends, and you will need to make the decision for yourself based on your design.

The important factor is that you need to ensure that the links stand out, and that the user will know they can click on them. However, underlining them is just one option. You can style them in many ways including font weight (bold) and a different font colour.

Underlining has the benefits of familiarity for the user. However, there are some situations where underlining might not work. For example, your designs may already heavily use lines for other styling which will cause your links to have less impact. This is why I say it really depends on your designs.

It is recommended that you try a few different options and see what works well with the rest of your design.

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