Too Bold by Half

A site (that shall remain nameless) that I was reading today is that of someone with a bachelor’s degree in computer science. I say this to put a very annoying trait of the site into context: hyperlinks use some JavaScript magic to embolden themselves on mouse-over.

Obviously, I am keen on using a bold typeface for hyperlinks. I adopted the habit in the primeval days of the mid-nineties to make it easier for the reader to see keywords. A fellow who once was a reader complimented me on the technique and I’ve kept it since. So I have no objection to the emboldening per se.

Dynamically changing the appearance of the page can be made to work quite effectively. WordPress uses a fade effect rather nicely after an entry is posted. Tooltip windows are generally unobtrusive and do not obscure the item for which they provide tips.

What I find rather distracting is the dynamic emboldening when the mouse pointer hovers over the link. Changing the typeface makes a major visual change to exactly the user’s point of focus and causes cascading layout changes for the rest of the text of the paragraph.

Sometimes one can be too clever by half.

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