Tag: Buttons

The Many Bad (and Good!) Patterns for Close Buttons

Manuel Matuzović details 10 bad HTML patterns for a close button. You know, stuff like this:

<a class="close" onclick="close()">×</a>

Why is that bad? There is no href there, so it really isn’t a link (close buttons aren’t links). Not to mention the missing href makes this “placeholder link” unfocusable. Plus, that symbol will be read as “multiplication” or “times”, which is not helpful (an “x” isn’t either).

What do you use instead?

There are plenty of good patterns too. If you prefer the visual look of a ×, then…

<button type="button">   <span class="sr-only">Close</span>   <span aria-hidden="true">×</span> </button>

…making sure you are accessibly hiding that close button.

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Radio Buttons Are Like Selects; Checkboxes Are Like Multiple Selects

I was reading Anna Kaley’s “Listboxes vs. Dropdown Lists” post the other day. It’s a fairly straightforward comparison between different UI implementations of selecting options. There is lots of good advice there. Classics like that you should use radio buttons (single select) or checkboxes (multiple select) if you’re showing five or fewer options, and the different options when the number of options grows from there.

One thing that isn’t talked about is how you implement these things. I imagine that’s somewhat on purpose as the point is to talk UX, not tech. But how you implement them plays a huge part in UX. In web design and development circles, the conversation about these things usually involves whether you can pull these things off with native controls, or if you need to rebuild them from scratch. If you can use native controls, you often should, because there are tons of UX that you get for free that that might otherwise be lost or forgotten when you rebuild — like how everything works via the keyboard.

The reason people chose “rebuild” is often for styling reasons, but that’s changing slowly over time. We’ve got lots of control over radios and checkboxes now. We can style the outside of selects pretty well and even the inside with trickery.

But even without custom styling, we still have some UI options. If you need to select one option from many, we’ve got <input type="radio"> buttons, but data and end-result-wise, that’s the same as a <select>. If you need to select multiple options, we’ve got <input type="checkbox">, but that’s data and end-result-wise the same as <select multiple>.

You pick based on the room you have available and the UX of whatever you’re building.

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A Complete Guide to Links and Buttons

There is a lot to know about links and buttons in HTML. There is markup implementation and related attributes, styling best practices, things to avoid, and the even-more-nuanced cousins of the link: buttons and button-like inputs.

Let’s take a look at the whole world of links and buttons, and all the considerations at the HTML, CSS, JavaScript, design, and accessibility layers that come with them. There are plenty of pitfalls and bad practices to avoid along the way. By covering it, we’ll have a complete good UX implementation of both elements.

Quick rules of thumb on when to use each:

  • Are you giving a user a way to go to another page or a different part of the same page? Use a link (<a href="/somewhere">link</a>)
  • Are you making a JavaScript-powered clickable action? Use a button (<button type="button">button</button>)
  • Are you submitting a form? Use a submit input (<input type="submit" value="Submit">)

Links

Links are one of the most basic, yet deeply fundamental and foundational building blocks of the web. Click a link, and you move to another page or are moved to another place within the same page.

Table of Contents

A basic link

<a href="https://css-tricks.com">CSS-Tricks</a>

That’s a link to a “fully qualified” or “absolute” URL.

A relative link

You can link “relatively” as well:

<!-- Useful in navigation, but be careful in content that may travel elsewhere (e.g. RSS) --> <a href="/pages/about.html">About</a>

That can be useful, for example, in development where the domain name is likely to be different than the production site, but you still want to be able to click links. Relative URLs are most useful for things like navigation, but be careful of using them within content — like blog posts — where that content may be read off-site, like in an app or RSS feed.

A jump link

Links can also be “hash links” or “jump links” by starting with a #:

<a href="#section-2">Section Two</a> <!-- will jump to... --> <section id="section-2"></section>

Clicking that link will “jump” (scroll) to the first element in the DOM with an ID that matches, like the section element above.

💥 Little trick: Using a hash link (e.g. #0) in development can be useful so you can click the link without being sent back to the top of the page like a click on a # link does. But careful, links that don’t link anywhere should never make it to production.

💥 Little trick: Jump-links can sometimes benefit from smooth scrolling to help people understand that the page is moving from one place to another.

It’s a fairly common UI/UX thing to see a “Back to top” link on sites, particularly where important navigational controls are at the top but there is quite a bit of content to scroll (or otherwise navigate) through. To create a jump link, link to the ID of an element that is at the top of the page where it makes sense to send focus back to.

<a href="#top-of-page">Back to Top</a>

Jump links are sometimes also used to link to other anchor (<a>) elements that have no href attribute. Those are called “placeholder” links:

<a id="section-2"></a> <h3>Section 2</h3>

There are accessibility considerations of these, but overall they are acceptable.

Disabled links

A link without an href attribute is the only practical way to disable a link. Why disable a link? Perhaps it’s a link that only becomes active after logging in or signing up.

a:not[href] {   /* style a "disabled" link */ }

When a link has no href, it has no role, no focusability, and no keyboard events. This is intentional.

Do you need the link to open in a new window or tab?

You can use the target attribute for that, but it is strongly discouraged.

<a href="https://css-tricks.com" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">   CSS-Tricks </a>

The bit that makes it work is target="_blank", but note the extra rel attribute and values there which make it safer and faster.

Making links open in new tabs is a major UX discussion. We have a whole article about when to use it here. Summarized:

Don’t use it:

  • Because you or your client prefer it personally.
  • Because you’re trying to beef up your time on site metric.
  • Because you’re distinguishing between internal and external links or content types.
  • Because it’s your way out of dealing with infinite scroll trickiness.

Do use it:

  • Because a user is doing something on the current page, like actively playing media or has unsaved work.
  • You have some obscure technical reason where you are forced to (even then you’re still probably the rule, not the exception).

Need the link to trigger a download?

The download attribute on a link will instruct the browser to download the linked file rather than opening it within the current page/tab. It’s a nice UX touch.

<a href="/files/file.pdf" download>Download PDF</a>

The rel attribute

This attribute is for the relationship of the link to the target.

The rel attribute is also commonly used on the <link> element (which is not used for creating hyperlinks, but for things like including CSS and preloading). We’re not including rel values for the <link> element here, just anchor links.

Here are some basic examples:

<a href="/page/3" rel="next">Next</a> <a href="/page/1" rel="prev">Previous</a>  <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/" rel="license">cc by 2.0</a>  <a href="/topics/" rel="directory">All Topics</a>
  • rel="alternate": Alternate version of the document.
  • rel="author": Author of the document.
  • rel="help": A resource for help with the document.
  • rel="license": License and legal information.
  • rel="manifest": Web App Manifest document.
  • rel="next": Next document in the series.
  • rel="prev": Previous document in the series.
  • rel="search": A document meant to perform a search in the current document.

There are also some rel attributes specifically to inform search engines:

  • rel="sponsored": Mark links that are advertisements or paid placements (commonly called paid links) as sponsored.
  • rel="ugc": For not-particularly-trusted user-generated content, like comments and forum posts.
  • rel="nofollow": Tell the search engine to ignore this and not associate this site with where this links to.

And also some rel attributes that are most security-focused:

  • rel="noopener": Prevent a new tab from using the JavaScript window.opener feature, which could potentially access the page containing the link (your site) to perform malicious things, like stealing information or sharing infected code. Using this with target="_blank" is often a good idea.
  • rel="noreferrer": Prevent other sites or tracking services (e.g. Google Analytics) from identifying your page as the source of clicked link.

You can use multiple space-separated values if you need to (e.g. rel="noopener noreferrer")

And finally, some rel attributes come from the microformats standard, like:

  • rel="directory": Indicates that the destination of the hyperlink is a directory listing containing an entry for the current page.
  • rel="tag": Indicates that the destination of that hyperlink is an author-designated “tag” (or keyword/subject) for the current page.
  • rel="payment": Indicates that the destination of that hyperlink provides a way to show or give support for the current page.
  • rel="help": States that the resource linked to is a help file or FAQ for the current document.

ARIA roles

The default role of a link is link, so you do not need to do:

<a role="link" href="/">Link</a>

You’d only need that if you were faking a link, which would be a weird/rare thing to ever need to do, and you’d have to use some JavaScript in addition to this to make it actually follow the link.

<span class="link" tabindex="0" role="link" data-href="/">   Fake accessible link created using a span </span>

Just looking above you can see how much extra work faking a link is, and that is before you consider that is breaks right-clicking, doesn’t allow opening in a new tab, doesn’t work with Windows High Contrast Mode and other reader modes and assistive technology. Pretty bad!

A useful ARIA role to indicate the current page, like:

<a href="/" aria-current="page">Home</a> <a href="/contact">Contact</a> <a href="/about">About/a></a>

Should you use the title attribute?

Probably not. Save this for giving an iframe a short, descriptive title.

<a title="I don't need to be here" href="/">   List of Concerts </a>

title provides a hover-triggered UI popup showing the text you wrote. You can’t style it, and it’s not really that accessible.

Hover-triggered is the key phrase here. It’s unusable on any touch-only device. If a link needs more contextual information, provide that in actual content around the link, or use descriptive text the link itself (as opposed to something like “Click Here”).

Icon-only links

If a link only has an icon inside it, like:

<a href="/">😃</a>  <a href="/">   <svg> ... </svg> </a>

That isn’t enough contextual information about the link, particularly for accessibility reasons, but potentially for anybody. Links with text are almost always more clear. If you absolutely can’t use text, you can use a pattern like:

<a href="/">   <!-- Hide the icon from assistive technology -->   <svg aria-hidden="true" focusable="false"> ... </svg>   <!-- Acts as a label that is hidden from view -->   <span class="visually-hidden">Useful link text</span> </a>

visually-hidden is a class used to visually hide the label text with CSS:

.visually-hidden {   border: 0;   clip: rect(0 0 0 0);   height: 1px;   margin: -1px;   overflow: hidden;   padding: 0;   position: absolute;   white-space: nowrap;   width: 1px; }

Unlike aria-label, visually hidden text can be translated and will hold up better in specialized browsing modes.

Links around images

Images can be links if you wrap them in a link. There is no need to use the alt text to say the image is a link, as assistive technology will do that already.

<a href="/buy/puppies/now">   <img src="puppy.jpg" alt="A happy puppy."> </a>

Links around bigger chunks of content

You can link a whole area of content, like:

<a href="/article/">   <div class="card">     <h2>Card</h2>     <img src="..." alt="...">     <p>Content</p>   </div> </a>

But it’s slightly weird, so consider the UX of it if you ever do it. For example, it can be harder to select the text, and the entire element needs styling to create clear focus and hover states.

Take this example, where the entire element is wrapped in a link, but there are no hover and focus states applied to it.

If you need a link within that card element, well, you can’t nest links. You could get a little tricky if you needed ot, like using a pseudo-element on the link which is absolutely positioned to cover the whole area.

Additionally, this approach can make really long and potentially confusing announcements for screen readers. Even though links around chunks of content is technically possible, it’s best to avoid doing this if you can.

Here’s the default look of a link:

The default User-Agent styling of a link.

It’s likely you’ll be changing the style of your links, and also likely you’ll use CSS to do it. I could make all my links red in CSS by doing:

a {   color: red; }

Sometimes selecting and styling all links on a page is a bit heavy-handed, as links in navigation might be treated entirely differently than links within text. You can always scope selectors to target links within particular areas like:

/* Navigation links */ nav a { }  /* Links in an article */ article a { }  /* Links contained in an element with a "text" class */ .text a { }

Or select the link directly to style.

.link {   /* For styling <a class="link" href="/"> */ }  a[aria-current="page"] {   /* You'll need to apply this attribute yourself, but it's a great pattern to use for active navigation. */ }

Link states

Links are focusable elements. In other words, they can be selected using the Tab key on a keyboard. Links are perhaps the most common element where you’ll very consciously design the different states, including a :focus state.

  • :hover: For styling when a mouse pointer is over the link.
  • :visited: For styling when the link has been followed, as best as the browser can remember. It has limited styling ability due to security.
  • :link: For styling when a link has not been visited.
  • :active: For styling when the link is pressed (e.g. the mouse button is down or the element is being tapped on a touch screen).
  • :focus: Very important! Links should always have a focus style. If you choose to remove the default blue outline that most browsers apply, also use this selector to re-apply a visually obvious focus style.

These are chainable like any pseudo-class, so you could do something like this if it is useful for your design/UX.

/* Style focus and hover states in a single ruleset */ a:focus:hover { }

You can style a link to look button-like

Perhaps some of the confusion between links and buttons is stuff like this:

Very cool “button” style from Katherine Kato.

That certainly looks like a button! Everyone would call that a button. Even a design system would likely call that a button and perhaps have a class like .button { }. But! A thing you can click that says “Learn More” is very much a link, not a button. That’s completely fine, it’s just yet another reminder to use the semantically and functionally correct element.

Color contrast

Since we often style links with a distinct color, it’s important to use a color with sufficient color contrast for accessibility. There is a wide variety of visual impairments (see the tool WhoCanUse for simulating color combinations with different impairments) and high contrast helps nearly all of them.

Perhaps you set a blue color for links:

The blue link is #2196F3.

While that might look OK to you, it’s better to use tools for testing to ensure the color has a strong enough ratio according to researched guidelines. Here, I’ll look at Chrome DevTools and it will tell me this color is not compliant in that it doesn’t have enough contrast with the background color behind it.

Chrome DevTools is telling us this link color does not have enough contrast.

Color contrast is a big consideration with links, not just because they are often colored in a unique color that needs to be checked, but because they have all those different states (hover, focus, active, visited) which also might have different colors. Compound that with the fact that text can be selected and you’ve got a lot of places to consider contrast. Here’s an article about all that.

Styling “types” of links

We can get clever in CSS with attribute selectors and figure out what kind of resource a link is pointing to, assuming the href value has useful stuff in it.

/* Style all links that include .pdf at the end */ a[href$ =".pdf"]::after {   content: " (PDF)"; }  /* Style links that point to Google */ a[href*="google.com"] {   color: purple; }

Styling links for print

CSS has an “at-rule” for declaring styles that only take effect on printed media (e.g. printing out a web page). You can include them in any CSS like this:

@media print {   /* For links in content, visually display the link */    article a::after {      content: " (" attr(href) ")";   } }

Resetting styles

If you needed to take all the styling off a link (or really any other element for that matter), CSS provides a way to remove all the styles using the all property.

.special-area a {   all: unset;   all: revert;      /* Start from scratch */   color: purple; }

You can also remove individual styles with keywords. (Again, this isn’t really unique to links, but is generically useful):

a {   /* Grab color from nearest parent that sets it */   color: inherit;    /* Wipe out style (turn black) */   color: initial;    /* Change back to User Agent style (blue) */   color: revert; }

Say you wanted to stop the clicking of a link from doing what it normally does: go to that link or jump around the page. In JavaScript, you can usepreventDefault to prevent jumping around.

const jumpLinks = document.querySelectorAll("a[href^='#']");  jumpLinks.forEach(link => {  link.addEventListener('click', event => {     event.preventDefault();     // Do something else instead, like handle the navigation behavior yourself   }); });

This kind of thing is at the core of how “Single Page Apps” (SPAs) work. They intercept the clicks so browsers don’t take over and handle the navigation.

SPAs see where you are trying to go (within your own site), load the data they need, replace what they need to on the page, and update the URL. It’s an awful lot of work to replicate what the browser does for free, but you get the ability to do things like animate between pages.

Another JavaScript concern with links is that, when a link to another page is clicked, the page is left and another page loads. That can be problematic for something like a page that contains a form the user is filling out but hasn’t completed. If they click the link and leave the page, they lose their work! Your only opportunity to prevent the user from leaving is by using the beforeunload event.

window.addEventListener("beforeunload", function(event) {   // Remind user to save their work or whatever. });

A link that has had its default behavior removed won’t announce the new destination. This means a person using assistive technology may not know where they wound up. You’ll have to do things like update the page’s title and move focus back up to the top of the document.

JavaScript frameworks

In a JavaScript framework, like React, you might sometimes see links created from something like a <Link /> component rather than a native <a> element. The custom component probably creates a native <a> element, but with extra functionality, like enabling the JavaScript router to work, and adding attributes like aria-current="page" as needed, which is a good thing!

Ultimately, a link is a link. A JavaScript framework might offer or encourage some level of abstraction, but you’re always free to use regular links.

We covered some accessibility in the sections above (it’s all related!), but here are some more things to think about.

  • You don’t need text like “Link” or “Go to” in the link text itself. Make the text meaningful (“documentation” instead of “click here”).
  • Links already have an ARIA role by default (role="link") so there’s no need to explicitly set it.
  • Try not to use the URL itself as the text (<a href="google.com">google.com</a>)
  • Links are generally blue and generally underlined and that’s generally good.
  • All images in content should have alt text anyway, but doubly so when the image is wrapped in a link with otherwise no text.

Unique accessible names

Some assistive technology can create lists of interactive elements on the page. Imagine a group of four article cards that all have a “Read More”, the list of interactive elements will be like:

  • Read More
  • Read More
  • Read More
  • Read More

Not very useful. You could make use of that .visually-hidden class we covered to make the links more like:

<a href="/article">   Read More   <span class="visually-hidden">     of the article "Dancing with Rabbits".   <span> </a>

Now each link is unique and clear. If the design can support it, do it without the visually hidden class to remove the ambiguity for everyone.

Buttons

Buttons are for triggering actions. When do you use the <button> element? A good rule is to use a button when there is “no meaningful href.” Here’s another way to think of that: if clicking it doesn’t do anything without JavaScript, it should be a <button>.

A <button> that is within a <form>, by default, will submit that form. But aside from that, button elements don’t have any default behavior, and you’ll be wiring up that interactivity with JavaScript.

Table of Contents

HTML implementation

<button>Buy Now</button>

Buttons inside of a <form> do something by default: they submit the form! They can also reset it, like their input counterparts. The type attributes matter:

<form action="/" method="POST">   <input type="text" name="name" id="name">   <button>Submit</button>    <!-- If you want to be more explicit... -->   <button type="submit">Submit</button>    <!-- ...or clear the form inputs back to their initial values -->   <button type="reset">Reset</button>    <!-- This prevents a `submit` action from firing which may be useful sometimes inside a form -->   <button type="button">Non-submitting button</button> </form>

Speaking of forms, buttons have some neat tricks up their sleeve where they can override attributes of the <form> itself.

<form action="/" method="get">    <!-- override the action -->   <button formaction="/elsewhere/" type="submit">Submit to elsewhere</button>    <!-- override encytype -->   <button formenctype="multipart/form-data" type="submit"></button>    <!-- override method -->   <button formmethod="post" type="submit"></button>    <!-- do not validate fields -->   <button formnovalidate type="submit"></button>    <!-- override target e.g. open in new tab -->   <button formtarget="_blank" type="submit"></button>  </form>

Autofocus

Since buttons are focusable elements, we can automatically focus on them when the page loads using the autofocus attribute:

<div class="modal">    <h2>Save document?</h2>    <button>Cancel</button>   <button autofocus>OK</button> </div>

Perhaps you’d do that inside of a modal dialog where one of the actions is a default action and it helps the UX (e.g. you can press Enter to dismiss the modal). Autofocusing after a user action is perhaps the only good practice here, moving a user’s focus without their permission, as the autofocus attribute is capable of, can be a problem for screen reader and screen magnifier users.

Note thatautofocus may not work if the element is within an <iframe sandbox> for security reasons.

Disabling buttons

To prevent a button from being interactive, there is a disabled attribute you can use:

<button disabled>Pay Now</button> <p class="error-message">Correct the form above to submit payment.</p>

Note that we’ve included descriptive text alongside the disabled button. It can be very frustrating to find a disabled button and not know why it’s disabled. A better way to do this could be to let someone submit the form, and then explain why it didn’t work in the validation feedback messaging.

Regardless, you could style a disabled button this way:

/* Might be good styles for ANY disabled element! */ button[disabled] {   opacity: 0.5;   pointer-events: none; } 

We’ll cover other states and styling later in this guide.

Buttons can contain child elements

A submit button and a submit input (<input type="submit">) are identical in functionality, but different in the sense that an input is unable to contain child elements while a button can.

<button>    <svg aria-hidden="true" focusable="false">      <path d="..." />    </svg>    <span class="callout">Big</span>    Sale! </button>  <button type="button">   <span role="img" aria-label="Fox">     🦊   </span>   Button </button>

Note the focusable="false" attribute on the SVG element above. In that case, since the icon is decorative, this will help assistive technology only announce the button’s label.

Styling and CSS considerations

Buttons are generally styled to look very button-like. They should look pressable. If you’re looking for inspiration on fancy button styles, you’d do well looking at the CodePen Topic on Buttons.

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Cross-browser/platform button styles

How buttons look by default varies by browser and platform.

Just on macOS: Chrome, Safari, and Firefox (they look the same)
Add border: 0; to those same buttons as above, and we have different styles entirely.

While there is some UX truth to leaving the defaults of form elements alone so that they match that browser/platform’s style and you get some affordance for free, designers typically don’t like default styles, particularly ones that differ across browsers.

Resetting the default button style

Removing all the styles from a button is easier than you think. You’d think, as a form control, appearance: none; would help, but don’t count on that. Actually all: revert; is a better bet to wipe the slate clean.

You can see how a variety of properties are involved

And that’s not all of them. Here’s a consolidated chunk of what Normalize does to buttons.

button {   font-family: inherit; /* For all browsers */   font-size: 100%; /* For all browsers */   line-height: 1.15; /* For all browsers */   margin: 0; /* Firefox and Safari have margin */   overflow: visible; /* Edge hides overflow */   text-transform: none; /* Firefox inherits text-transform */   -webkit-appearance: button; /* Safari otherwise prevents some styles */ }  button::-moz-focus-inner {   border-style: none;   padding: 0; }  button:-moz-focusring {   outline: 1px dotted ButtonText; }

A consistent .button class

In addition to using reset or baseline CSS, you may want to have a class for buttons that gives you a strong foundation for styling and works across both links and buttons.

.button {   border: 0;   border-radius: 0.25rem;   background: #1E88E5;   color: white;   font-family: -system-ui, sans-serif;   font-size: 1rem;   line-height: 1.2;   white-space: nowrap;   text-decoration: none;   padding: 0.25rem 0.5rem;   margin: 0.25rem;   cursor: pointer; }

Check out this Pen to see why all these properties are needed to make sure it works correctly across elements.

Button states

Just as with links, you’ll want to style the states of buttons.

button:hover { } button:focus { } button:active { } button:visited { } /* Maybe less so */

You may also want to use ARIA attributes for styling, which is a neat way to encourage using them correctly:

button[aria-pressed="true"] { } button[aria-pressed="false"] { }

Link-styled buttons

There are always exceptions. For example, a website in which you need a button-triggered action within a sentence:

<p>You may open your <button>user settings</button> to change this.</p>

We’ve used a button instead of an anchor tag in the above code, as this hypothetical website opens user settings in a modal dialog rather than linking to another page. In this situation, you may want to style the button as if it looks like a link.

This is probably rare enough that you would probably make a class (e.g. .link-looking-button) that incorporates the reset styles from above and otherwise matches what you do for anchor links.

Breakout buttons

Remember earlier when we talked about the possibility of wrapping entire elements in links? If you have a button within another element, but you want that entire outer element to be clickable/tappable as if it’s the button, that’s a “breakout” button. You can use an absolutely-positioned pseudo-element on the button to expand the clickable area to the whole region. Fancy!

JavaScript considerations

Even without JavaScript, button elements can be triggered by the Space and Enter keys on a keyboard. That’s part of what makes them such appealing and useful elements: they are discoverable, focusable, and interactive with assistive technology in a predictable way.

Perhaps any <button> in that situation should be inserted into the DOM by JavaScript. A tall order! Food for thought. 🤔

“Once” handlers

Say a button does something pretty darn important, like submitting a payment. It would be pretty scary if it was programmed such that clicking the button multiple times submitted multiple payment requests. It is situations like this where you would attach a click handler to a button that only runs once. To make that clear to the user, we’ll disable the button on click as well.

document.querySelector("button").addEventListener('click', function(event) {   event.currentTarget.setAttribute("disabled", true); }, {     once: true });

Then you would intentionally un-disable the button and reattach the handler when necessary.

Inline handlers

JavaScript can be executed by activating a button through code on the button itself:

<button onclick="console.log('clicked');">   Log it. </button>  <button onmousedown=""> </button>  <button onmouseup=""> </button>

That practice went from being standard practice to being a faux pas (not abstracting JavaScript functionality away from HTML) to, eh, you need it when you need it. One advantage is that if you’re injecting this HTML into the DOM, you don’t need to bind/re-bind JavaScript event handlers to it because it already has one.

JavaScript frameworks

It’s common in any JavaScript framework to make a component for handling buttons, as buttons typically have lots of variations. Those variations can be turned into an API of sorts. For example, in React:

const Button = ({ className, children }) => {   const [activated, setActivated] = React.useState(false);   return (     <button       className={`button $ {className}`}       aria-pressed={activated ? "true" : "false")       onClick={() => setActivated(!activated)}     >       {children}     </button>   ); };

In that example, the <Button /> component ensures the button will have a button class and handles a toggle-like active class.

Accessibility considerations

The biggest accessibility consideration with buttons is actually using buttons. Don’t try to replicate a button with a <div> or a <span>, which is, unfortunately, more common than you might think. It’s very likely that will cause problems. (Did you deal with focusability? Did you deal with keyboard events? Great. There’s still probably more stuff you’re forgetting.)

Focus styles

Like all focusable elements, browsers apply a default focus style, which is usually a blue outline.

Focus styles on Chrome/macOS

While it’s arguable that you should leave that alone as it’s a very clear and obvious style for people that benefit from focus styles, it’s also not out of the question to change it.

What you should not do is button:focus { outline: 0; } to remove it. If you ever remove a focus style like that, put it back at the same time.

button:focus {   outline: 0; /* Removes the default blue ring */    /* Now, let's create our own focus style */   border-radius: 3px;   box-shadow: 0 0 0 2px red; }
Custom focus style

The fact that a button may become focused when clicked and apply that style at the same time is offputting to some. There is a trick (that has limited, but increasing, browser support) on removing focus styles from clicks and not keyboard events:

:focus:not(:focus-visible) {    outline: 0;  }

ARIA

Buttons already have the role they need (role="button"). But there are some other ARIA attributes that are related to buttons:

  • aria-pressed: Turns a button into a toggle, between aria-pressed="true" and aria-pressed="false". More on button toggles, which can also be done with role="switch" and aria-checked="true".
  • aria-expanded: If the button controls the open/closed state of another element (like a dropdown menu), you apply this attribute to indicate that like aria-expanded="true".
  • aria-label: Overrides the text within the button. This is useful for labeling buttons that otherwise don’t have text, but you’re still probably better off using a visually-hidden class so it can be translated.
  • aria-labelledby: Points to an element that will act as the label for the button.

For that last one:

<button aria-labelledby="buttonText">   Time is running out!    <span id="buttonText">Add to Cart</span> </button>

Deque has a deeper dive blog post into button accessibility that includes much about ARIA.

Dialogs

If a button opens a dialog, your job is to move the focus inside and trap it there. When closing the dialog, you need to return focus back to that button so the user is back exactly where they started. This makes the experience of using a modal the same for someone who relies on assistive technology as for someone who doesn’t.

Focus management isn’t just for dialogs, either. If clicking a button runs a calculation and changes a value on the page, there is no context change there, meaning focus should remain on the button. If the button does something like “move to next page,” the focus should be moved to the start of that next page.

Size

Don’t make buttons too small. That goes for links and any sort of interactive control. People with any sort of reduced dexterity will benefit.

The classic Apple guideline for the minimum size for a touch target (button) is 44x44pt.

Here’s some guidelines from other companies. Fitt’s Law tells us smaller targets have greater error rates. Google even takes button sizes into consideration when evaluating the SEO of a site.

In addition to ample size, don’t place buttons too close each other, whether they’re stacked vertically or together on the same line. Give them some margin because people experiencing motor control issues run the risk of clicking the wrong one.

Activating buttons

Buttons work by being clicked/touched, pressing the Enter key, or pressing the Space key (when focused). Even if you add role="button" to a link or div, you won’t get the spacebar functionality, so at the risk of beating a dead horse, use <button> in those cases.

The post A Complete Guide to Links and Buttons appeared first on CSS-Tricks.

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Disabled buttons suck

In this oldie but goodie, Hampus Sethfors digs into why disabled buttons are troubling for usability reasons and he details one example where this was pretty annoying for him. The same has happened to me recently where I clicked a button that looked like a secondary button and… nothing happened.

Here’s another reason why disabled buttons are bad though:

Disabled buttons usually have call to action words on them, like “Send”, “Order” or “Add friend”. Because of that, they often match what users want to do. So people will try to click them.

What’s the alternative? Throw errors? Highlight the precise field that the user needs to update? All those are certainly very helpful to show what the problem is and how to fix it. To play devil’s advocate for a second though, Daniel Koster wrote about how disabled buttons don’t have to suck which is sort of interesting.

But whatever the case, let’s just not get into the topic of disabled links.

Direct Link to ArticlePermalink

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Breakout Buttons

Andy covers a technique where a semantic <button> is used within a card component, but really, the whole card is clickable. The trick is to put a pseudo-element that goes beyond the button, covering the entire card. The tradeoff is that the pseudo-element sits on top of the text, so text selection is hampered a bit. I believe this is better than making the whole dang area a <button> because that would sacrifice semantics and likely cause extreme weirdness for assistive technology.

See the Pen
Semantic, progressively enhanced “break-out” button
by Andy Bell (@andybelldesign)
on CodePen.

You could do the same thing if your situation requires an <a> link instead of a <button>, but if that’s the case, you actually can wrap the whole area in the link without much grief then wrap the part that appears to be a button in a span or something to make it look like a button.

This reminds me of the nested link problem: a large linked block that contains other different linked areas in it. Definitely can’t nest anchor links. Sara Soueidan had the best answer where the “covering” link is placed within the card and absolutely positioned to cover the area while other links inside could be be layered on top with z-index.

I’ve moved her solution to a Pen for reference:

See the Pen
Nested Links Solution
by Chris Coyier (@chriscoyier)
on CodePen.

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Weekly Platform News: Emoji String Length, Issues with Rounded Buttons, Bundled Exchanges

In this week’s roundup, the string length of two emojis is not always equal, something to consider before making that rounded button, and we may have a new way to share web apps between devices, even when they are offline.

The JavaScript string length of emoji characters

A single rendered emoji can have a JavaScript string length of up to 7 if it contains additional Unicode scalar values that represent a skin tone modifier, gender specification, and multicolor rendering.

(via Henri Sivonen)

An accessibility issue with rounded buttons

Be aware that applying CSS border-radius to a <button> element reduces the button’s interactive area (“those lost corner pixels are no longer clickable”).

You can avoid this accessibility issue in CSS, e.g., by emulating rounded corners via border-image instead, or by overlaying the button with an absolutely positioned, transparent ::before pseudo-element.

(via Tyler Sticka)

Sharing web pages while offline with Bundled Exchanges

Chrome plans to add support for navigation to Bundled Exchanges (part of Web Packaging). A bundled exchangeis a collection of HTTP request/response pairs, and it can be used to bundle a web page and all of its resources.

The browser should be able to parse and verify the bundle’s signature and then navigate to the website represented by the bundle without actually connecting to the site as all the necessary subresources could be served by the bundle.

Kinuko Yasuda from Google has posted a video that demonstrates how Bundled Exchanges enable sharing web pages (e.g., a web game) with other devices while offline.

(via Kinuko Yasuda)


Read even more news in my weekly Sunday issue, which can be delivered to you via email every Monday morning. Visit webplatform.news for more information.

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