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I have always kept the style of my links the same, whether the link has been visited or not. But I was navigating a site I use often, and trying to work out where I had been. It occurred to me, if it was styled different for the links I had been, then it would become very easy.

It then occurred to me, that visitors at my site might think the same thing. So is it good practice to style visited links different from non-visited. Traditionally we have blue links and purple for visited. But your link text is black for example, how would we style a visited link over a regular link? And in what circumstances should we bother styling?

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Yes indeed, you should style visited links. Just as you thought it would be useful for you, the same happens to your users. Of course this has been the object of many studies and research, so I won't extend on this, but the ability to tell where you have been is paramount in terms of Information Architecture.

Just a quick snippet from Nielsen about visited and non visited link styling:

Hypertext theory, the Web's history, and current design conventions all indicate the need to change the color of visited links. Further, empirical observations from user testing have identified several severe usability problems on sites that violate this convention. When sites use the same color for visited and unvisited links, users:

  • unintentionally revisit the same pages repeatedly;
  • get lost more easily because their understanding of each link's meaning is reduced;
  • often misinterpret or overlook the difference between two similar links if they're unsure about which one they've already visited;
  • and give up faster because they have a reduced sense of mastery when the site fails to reflect their actions and thus help them navigate. Such usability problems are particularly damaging to users with weak short-term memory, who often have trouble remembering what they've clicked without a visual representation.

Of course, "weak short-term memory" is an inherent shortcoming of all humans, which is why all users are harmed by unchanging link colors. But this definitely impacts some people more than others, so it's particularly important to change link colors if you have many older users.

To address the second part of your answer, would be quite opinion based, but given your links are black and your text is black as well, it would be advisable to style links differently. Keeping the same color for regular text and links is really confusing for users, so try alternatives based on branding or other elements of the page

  • I was thinking purple, as that is what most people condition it with. – Source Sep 12 '16 at 0:52
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    Well, it will depend on many things. If you also style links in a classic way (like blue links for defaul), it will make sense. Otherwise, see if you have other colors in your current design in order to differentiate your links yet provide a pleasant experience. In the link I posted you'll see about the treatment as well, and a common way to identify visited links is to lower the opacity of default link color – Devin Sep 12 '16 at 14:28

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