What happens when you click here- a fairy tale

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…

Just think of the fairy next time you put a ‘click here’. Please.

12 thoughts on “What happens when you click here- a fairy tale

    • Accessibility is the primary reason particularly for the vision impaired. Other people who are cognitively impaired rely on a consistent design and a reliable usable interface. I added Search Engine Optimization because that is what will inspire other people to stop and think about writing meaningful links. Thanks for the link Julia :).

  1. *splutter cough* I promise I have just deleted click here on my post for today. Loved this post and now understand “I must not write “click here” ever again

  2. Well, I think I have killed many fairies with my “click here” instances. I do try to not do the “click here” thing but sometimes I do resort to it. From now on I will think about the fairies before I do a “click here” on my blog!

  3. We have one of those on the website and it drives me crazy. Click to get to the page that tells me to click again for the catalogue? *grrrrrr* (When I am lazy I ‘click here’ though. LOL) I’ve been experimenting with the AltText that I’m adding to the links by adding the name of the website in brackets afterwards. Not sure that I’ll continue to do it since that can be deduced from the link. Maybe I’ll start writing AltText like XKCD!

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