Internet Users Aren’t Idiots

Published on January 30, 2006

In these days of modern web design, it shocks me to see professional websites still using design techniques from the 1990s. One notable example is the use of text like “click here” to create a hyperlink. As the title of this post suggests, your site’s users are not complete morons. We all learned about hyperlinks in the 1990s, so the helpful instruction that you are trying to provide your users is simply redundant (we already know where or where not to click).

For example, take this eWeek article on Google’s Big Daddy overhaul. There are two places in the article where the aforementioned error occurs. Both instances, interestingly enough, are the only underlined links in the entire article. This fact points out one area where this “error” as I’ve called it is actually acceptable (although the underlying problem is one that is still frowned upon).

Many websites style their hyperlinks as regular text; that is, the links don’t appear underlined. There are two methods that such sites employ to help users identify these plain text links: either the link is rendered using a different color, or the link is rendered with a bold font weight. Both ways, I would argue, are inaccessible. That argument aside, however, the text “click here” can actually become useful for color blind or low vision users. It provides some sort of clue as to where the user should click to proceed.

I offer you then two suggestions for your own website. First, style your links using something that’s plainly obvious to see (underlines work great). And second, don’t feel the need to use “click here” as the text for a hyperlink. If your links are styled correctly, you shouldn’t need such redundancy.

One Comment

kip

The web-based CVS system we have at work is terrible. Default text is dark blue, links are black, bother are in plain 9-point Arial, without underlines or boldness. And since what you see is essentially the result of a database query, there are more things on the page that are links than those that aren’t. So most of the text is black (a link), and there is blue text (not a link) scattered about. So you would initially think the blue is a link and the black is text, and would confirm that by noticing that most of the page is black (since most typical pages are more not-links than links).

Click here to follow a link (to do this move your cursor over this text, then press the left mouse button). That will take you to another website besides the one you are currently looking at.

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