Some best practices for downloading links

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There are different types of links: classic links allowing to reach a new page, [skip links] (/en/articles/skip-links-best-practices) allowing to move within the page and finally those which interest us in this article, the links allowing to download a file.

A link to download a file should respect the following rules:

  • its title must be explicit, it must also specify the type and size of the file
  • its title must specify the language of the document when it is written in a language different from that of the current page
  • this link must be made using a <a> tag (and not a <button> tag)
  • this link must open in the current window (no target attribute to open in a new tab)

In addition, to improve accessibility, providing these informations will allow the user to avoid unnecessary downloads, which is also eco-responsible (green) best practice.

Valid examples #

Here is an example of a link with the necessary information:

Download the complete review 2020 (PDF, 1.5 MB).

It is important that this additional information is present in the title of the link and not just after the link (especially for people who use a screen reader). That said, for aesthetic reasons, it is possible to ensure that the additional information is not underlined, for example:

Download the complete review 2020 (PDF, 1.5Mo)

About the units #

In English, the units used to express the weight of the files are written in capital letters (KbB, MB, GB...).

File language #

For the links allowing to download a document in a language other than that of the current page, it is important to specify it.

Examples of documents in French on a English site:

A small image for decoration, but not only #

If the file type is known, a small icon next to the file allows the user to identify it more quickly:
complete review 2020 (PDF, 1.5 MB)