Once upon a time, a long time ago, I was learning how to create websites and all about HTML. If you really want to know how long ago, let’s just say the Millennium Bug had loomed large (and had appeared to be nothing more than a little sniffle) and I was still suffering from the mother of all hangovers from New Years Eve 1999.
I learned about Microsoft FrontPage(!), flashing gifs (!!) and frames(!!!). I learned about nerdy things like HTML and tags and how to link, using the ALT tag for images, and creating meaningful links rather than creating links that simply said ‘click here’.
Over the next decade or so, I went on to work with websites and while the websites changed, and were replaced by content management systems, and whiz-bang software tools which didn’t mean you needed to touch a piece of code, it was still one of the most important lessons I retained. Never, ever create a link that says ‘click here’.
Because if you do, a fairy dies.
(The Nerd Fairy, which may or may not bear a resemblance to me)
Now, this is no ordinary fairy. It’s not the tooth fairy, nor the mystical laundry fairy (which I would so very much like to have visit my house).
It’s the type of fairy that imbues your website or blog with Usability, and Accessibility, and even SEO, or the ability to have your site appear in the top ranking when searched. It is quite an elusive creature, and almost invisible to the eye. However once the fairy disappears, you’re aware of its absence. You’re left with a nagging sense of loss and irritation thinking WTF does ‘here’ mean?
You often have to go back and read the sentence in its entirety to gain a context of the word ‘here’. You’re making your user think harder than they ought to. And making your user have to think more about whether or not they wish to click ‘here’ reduces the usability of your post and your writing. You want your users to reflect on what you have WRITTEN, not a link you have created, telling them to ‘click here’.
And often, your readers may not necessarily be reading in the way you may normally read. They may have a vision impairment which requires them to adjust the screen resolution, or cannot see the ‘here’ which is linked in a pale colour or not underlined. Their vision impairment may require them to use screen reading software or app which can call up a series of links and activating the link that holds the greatest interest. ‘Here’ is meaningless in this context.
But, you say, I have **,000 readers- why do I need to bother about making a correct link?
Well, you know that book you recommended or reviewed, or the video of yourself that you posted, or the recipe for that yummy chocolate cake or the pattern for that cardigan you knitted? Your post is less likely to pop up when it’s googled. You may be losing readers rather than gaining readers when you ‘click here’.
And you’re likely to lose people who don’t like clicking ‘here’- like me!
Look, if you don’t believe me, there’s a whole heap of peeps who believe the same way…
- Making ‘click here’ link text obselete one link at a time– From Usability One
- Don’t say ‘click here’; not everyone will be clicking– From the W3 Consortium
- New and Improved: The Intersection of Usability, Accessibility and SEO– Design Hammer
- Improving usability for Screen readers-from Web Credible
Just think of the fairy next time you put a ‘click here’. Please.