Back in 1996 when I was a young aspiring web designer, I attended a week-long web design course taught by Linda Weinman. Shortly thereafter, I found myself standing in our company conference room surrounded by executives. While the memory of presenting the design for Whirlpool Financial’s first website has faded, one particular exchange about the project has not. One of the executives asked, “Don’t we need to put “click here” next to the things we want them to click on?” At the time, it was not a surprising comment. Web designers and visitors were metaphorically (and literally) … feeling their way around the Internet.
Perhaps, due to this crisp memory I have carried around with me so long, I cringe when I see a text link that says “click here” on a web page, email, press release or a blog post. For me, it ranks right up there with animated gifs and frames websites on the “Why would you do that?” scale. Just as users now know that you can scroll down to view more on a page, so do users also know what content is likely clickable within a web page or email.
Engaging your readers
Opportunities abound for improving the likelihood that visitors will discover and read your content. We all unconsciously skim emails and web pages to determine if there is anything that is of interest to us. Naturally, we skim text links, subheads and graphics on the page. If your text links do not contain descriptive words or phrases, you miss these opportunities to hook the reader and pull them into your content.
Improve content skimmability
This early post by user advocate, Jacob Neilsen called, How Users Read on the Web, is still quite relevant. Beyond explaining the benefits of improving how we should write for web, it also demonstrates how carefully crafted text links improves the user’s ability to scan your content for meaningful topics and information.
The next time you find yourself pulling together content for that company newsletter, writing an email promoting a webinar, or posting content to your blog or website — be sure to banish the antiquated, mid-90s “click here” convention from your digital vocabulary. A little extra time spent crafting your text links will improve usability, click-thrus, content engagement and, ultimately, conversions.