Crimes Against Hypertext

Just like Information Superhighway and cyberspace, the terms hyperlink and hypertext seem to have dropped out of fashion. Despite this, hypertext is still the foundation of the Web — one of its core features. The humble HTML <a> tag is the sole element that produces the hyperlinks that change plain text into hypertext. It still surprises and annoys me when such a central feature of a web page seems to be taken for granted. Poor linking practices are common — editorially and visually — and it has a direct negative impact on usability.

The Rogues Gallery

It’s time to out these outlaws, so here is my rogues gallery of hypertext — all of them wanted criminals for crimes against usability!

The Tautology

The tautology link is not a new innovation, but it may appear suddenly, without warning, in a block of hypertext. You may have seen hypertext that looks like this:

You can find two great examples <a href="/">here</a> 
and <a href="/">here</a>. <a href="/">Click here</a> 
for another one!

A hyperlink implies a destination that is reachable by clicking the link; the tautology link only serves to state the obvious!

The Leisure-suit

The leisure-suit link just points vaguely. If you want to follow it, you’re on your own. Here’s an example:

In fact, you can <a href="/">find</a> <a href="/">so</a> 
<a href="/">many</a> <a href="/">examples</a> of poor 
linking you may think the world no longer cares.

Too lazy to write meaningful hypertext? Just link a whole bunch of words and let the user deal with it.

The Middle-man

Some authors prefer to contract their hypertext out to a middle man. There’s a place for URL shortening services, sites like Twitter, for example, but there’s no excuse for using them in your hypertext. In the absence of any other context the user can fall back to examining the URL of a link. Taking that away by using a URL shortening service is the equivalent of sending them down the river without a paddle.

The Interference

You often see this in web sites like Wikipedia and Everything2 — words that are linked to information that has little relevance to the surrounding text. For example:

Hyperlinks are the <a href="/a_page_about_glue">glue</a> 
that holds the Web together.

The Departed

Against the departed, hypertext never has a chance. Have you noticed that many mainstream news media web sites refer to other web sites without providing links in the article body text? Call that hypertext? It’s a massacre!

The Stalker

You’ll only see a stalker link when you’re right on top of it! This one is becoming less common, but you still see examples occasionally. The stalker link is so similar in appearance to the surrounding text, you’d never even know it’s there.

The Telemarketer

The scourge of hypertext, the telemarketer link includes a hovering box displaying a thumbnail preview of the target web page. What possible use is there for a small blurry thumbnail of the link target that pops-up and obscures the surrounding text? And what about those double-underlined advertising links? Users should never have to experience those.

The Good Hyperlink

Poor quality hypertext is a usability disaster causing annoyance, confusion, and anxiety. Users expect links, and that the links will be relevant and useful. A good hyperlink is relevant to the surrounding text and provides enough information for the user to make an informed decision about whether to leave the current page they’re on and follow.

Here’s an example of a useful hyperlink:

For excellent examples of finely crafted hypertext 
look no further than <a href="http://kottke.org/">kottke.org, 
the online home of Jason Kottke</a>.

The linked text must have relevance, as it’s the first hint the user will receive as to the nature of the link. The test of good link text is whether it can stand alone on a page, outside of the hypertext of which it’s a part, and still make sense.

Links must also be styled differently to the surrounding text. They can be another color than blue, as long as it’s different to the normal text, and that all the links in the page are the same color, so they’ll be clearly visible.

A title attribute is optional, but should be used independently from providing a context because the tool tip only appears when using the mouse. If the link text is sufficient, it’s unnecessary anyway.

Well-crafted hypertext is simple to read and use, and frankly, simple to create! Are you guilty of crimes against hypertext?

Free book: Jump Start HTML5 Basics

Grab a free copy of one our latest ebooks! Packed with hints and tips on HTML5's most powerful new features.

  • http://manwithnoblog.com tuna

    Andrew are you saying you hate the use of “click here”. True a link should be semantically meaningful.

  • http://www.sitepoint.com/articlelist/487/ Andrew Tetlaw

    @tuna, you bet I am!

  • SusannaD

    Don’t forget the cutesy version “Clik!”
    aagghhhhhh!

  • http://manwithnoblog.com tuna

    @andrew – So you would be very sad to learn that “click here” is coming up as an acceptable link label (from various studies – sorry no free online ref) mainly due to its overuse in the lazy web development community. The practice of using “click here” I agree has to STOP. But we may now be facing the sad fact that the horse has indeed bolted. Information continuation links have been found to work equally as well with “click here” for more information” than using a semantically correct link. We have sadly trained people to use “click here” .

  • http://www.sitepoint.com/articlelist/537/ Meitar

    The “leisure-suit” link is one, in particular, that I believe can be justified if the destination is somewhat peripheral to the topic being discussed and if the link includes a title attribute that explicitly states the link’s destination and its reason for appearing in the text and if part of the author’s voice is dependent on a particular construction of prose. Example:

    In fact, you can find so <a href="/" title="Jacob Nielsen's article on hypertext copywriting cites many examples of poor anchor text.">many</a> <a href="/" title="The Web Pages That Suck archive also contains plenty of examples of poor hypertext techniques.">examples</a> of poor
    linking you may think the world no longer cares.

    Although I agree that in most circumstances, usability does suffer from such stylistic choices, the other side of the coin is that hypertext is—at least in part—a new literary means of self-expression.

  • http://www.heyraena.com raena

    The “leisure-suit” link is one, in particular, that I believe can be justified if the destination is somewhat peripheral to the topic being discussed and if the link includes a title attribute that explicitly states the link’s destination and its reason for appearing in the text and if part of the author’s voice is dependent on a particular construction of prose.

    Now, why would I want to hover my mouse over a bunch of words, just to see the title and commentary which should have been there in the first place?

  • http://www.sitepoint.com/articlelist/537/ Meitar

    @raena: Define “should have been there in the first place.” I think this is where the line between author’s intent (reference: artist’s intent) and reader’s experience gets blurry.

  • http://www.sitepoint.com/articlelist/487/ Andrew Tetlaw

    @tuna, I’m just callin’ it like I see it.

    @Meitar, I think if you are going to link to peripheral material you need to state what it is. I can’t see any value in that style of linking. If it’s further reading then it belongs in a side-bar or ‘further reading’ section. If they’re examples you’re linking too, why aren’t you explaining what those examples are and how they relate? If you don’t then it’s just lazy writing.

  • http://www.sitepoint.com/articlelist/537/ Meitar

    @Andrew: Well, it’s lazy technical writing and you certainly won’t find any of it from me on SitePoint blogs, for instance. Going so far as to blanket all writing that way, however…well, I just wouldn’t. :) FWIW, I liked this post, and the analogies you drew with the names of each reference.

  • jwalker37

    What a funny, beautifully-written and spot-on post. I am guilty of several of these crimes, and you’re finally shaming me back to the right side of the fence.
    Thanks!

  • Stevie D

    @tuna – Yes, “click here” is common throughout the web. So is all sorts of other crap that we are continually battling to destroy. Just because it has become a de facto standard doesn’t mean we can’t start to reverse that. All sorts of bad practices have been de facto standards but the dedication and hard work of standardistas/evangelists has given us CSS layouts with semantically appropriate markup becoming more and more prevalent in everyday commercial sites.

    The horse may have bolted, but we can still catch it and get it back in the stable!

    It’s OK to include “Click here to…” within the linked text, if you feel the need to do that, but the linked text should also say what happens when you do click there, otherwise it looks spammy and scammy and generally unhelpful. As users become more sophisticated and skilled in their browsing habits, they will find the well-written link text more fruitful than the shouty look-at-me Click HERE link.

    The leisure-suit link is OK, just about, in informal blogs, but has no place in serious web pages.

    The departed is a constant source of annoyance to anyone who reads online news – I suspect in most cases it is because the template/interface simply doesn’t allow the author to insert hyperlinks…

    On a similar line to the telemarketer, one that bugs me are sites where glossary notes or spam links appear as tooltips when you mouseover certain words, invariably adding tons to the page weight and slowing down the browser to a snail’s pace.

  • Usability fan

    Hi,

    Thanks for a good article, but I must disagree with your ‘good example’. It’s much more intuitive and helpful to put the link around the information users will see when they select it:

    For excellent examples of finely crafted hypertext look no
    further than kottke.org, the online home of Jason Kottke.

    Or better yet, tighten the text and be specific

    See excellent examples of finely crafted hypertext
    at Jason Kottke’s site.

    Current research and accessibility issues also point out that most users (especially disabled and older users) prefer links with a good amount of text, simply because it’s more obvious and because it’s easier to click on than a single, short word.

  • http://www.rebeccahaden.com rhaden

    I’m with you, and laughing, for most of this. But I actually like the Telemarketer. I hate clicking on a link which has — through its masterful use of anchor text — deceived me into thinking it was worth following, only to find myself on a less useful page. The Telemarketer (which I’d call a Snapshot) lets the reader decide whether the link is worth following or not.
    This doesn’t apply to the double underlines, of course.

  • davidfilmer

    Instead of

    For excellent examples of finely crafted hypertext look no further than kottke.org, the online home of Jason Kottke.

    Hmmm. I would greatly prefer:

    For excellent examples of finely crafted hypertext look no further than kottke.org, the online home of Jason Kottke.

    Long links annoy me for several reasons. The longer the link, the greater the chance it will break across lines (a one-word link cannot do that). Also, links have some distinctive appearance to set them apart from “regular” text, so long links tend to visually overpower the page. Finally, when I’m looking at a long link, I am never sure if it’s just one link or a string of “leisure-suit” links.

    I believe links should be as short as possible while still being relevant.

  • Dorsey

    What frosts me is when someone responds to a question or an argument with something like: check here (as a link), but with no synopsis as to what the user might find. In those cases, links should be treated like a bibliography or footnotes would. Imagine a book or article that contained only a series of footnotes, leaving it as an exercise to the reader to extract the meaning and relevance. Who would waste their time doing the author’s work? Just as that would be lazy, so is adding a link with no explanation of what your reader might expect to find there.

  • Lyn

    Interesting points of view on anchor text from Usability fan and davidfilmer. I would probably tend more toward UF’s practice, if only because I would expect that kind of anchor text to be more valuable from an SEO standpoint (unless I have a stake in promoting Kottke!) There’s certainly something to be said for the keeping the visual effect and readability in mind, though.

    The key, I think, is to focus on the keywords of the content (eg: finely crafted hypertext) for the reader and for your own goals, and link accordingly. Visitors are “searching” as they browse and read your text, so letting links work as highlighting for main ideas is helpful for everyone.

  • dontHaveTimeToLogIn

    Yeah, tell that to SEO guys (to use tag correctly)

  • http://www.appropriatesolutions.co.uk AppSol

    I agree with Lyn, those words in a link are so important. Semantically they act as bullet points within the text (if it’s important enough to link about it must be a major point), helping readers to skim a text and pick up on areas valid to them. Connectively they help to define for the reader and for search engines the nature of the link target, this will provide better insight, if written well, than some pop up doo-dad showing a thumbnail of the site. Finally from an accessibility point of view this text is vital as a means to orient users with the information space.
    “Click here” must die!

  • Iza

    I agree with Lyn as well, ‘finely crafted hypertext’ is all that is needed to make this a really good example of a meaningful hypertext. In fact, the URL links, such as kottke.org, should also be added to the rouges gallery because they are bad for usability and accessibility (e.g. they are often meaningless for screen reader users who will hear each URL read out in full, including, numbers and punctuation).
    ‘Click here’ and ‘more’ should follow the dodo…
    Thanks for the article.

  • Interference Linker

    I have to disagree with your blanket objection to the “Interference” link. I often will link a word or phrase if I think it might be something that someone from a different culture or country might not be familiar with. It might look unnecessary to many viewers, but I’m betting other viewers get something out of it. Also: I enjoy Wikipedia’s use of this type of link. My curiosity sometimes likes to follow these links to explore meandering trains of thought.

  • cfaj

    Here’s a story from a poster in the alt.www.webmaster newsgroup recently:

    Here’s a *really* dumb example of a mistake I made a month ago:

    I’m running a site with a friend, trying to build it up into a profitable business. In order to post content to this site, the public needs to create an account (Basic info, name, phone, display name, etc). So there’s a link in the nav bar that says “Post ad/Login” – A month ago, if you clicked on this and didn’t have an account, you saw the login screen, along with some bolded, hyperlinked text that said “Create FREE account”.

    My colleague pointed out that not only were we not getting enough signups to the site, despite decent traffic, but she was getting complaints that there was no way to create an account.

    What was the problem ? The link for new accounts didn’t say “CLICK HERE”…

    I s***t you not, that was the issue. I added that text, and sure enough, the signups started climbing. Sigh.

  • EJ

    I find that its important to have the obvious stated “click here” if your’e using a link in a sentence. Its best to make the link as obvious as possible. I definitely do not like using whole sentences as catch-all links.

  • http://www.sitepoint.com/articlelist/487/ Andrew Tetlaw

    @cfaj, yeah it’s an interesting phenomenon, and, as @tuna says, quite sad. But without any other information you can’t draw a direct correlation; it’s just an interesting anecdote.

    Perhaps there are other strategies that could have been attempted (design/layout/wording). Perhaps ‘Click Here’ works because it’s the quickest/easiest (and laziest) way to indicate a hyperlink in the absence of any other strategy?

  • http://www.tyssendesign.com.au Tyssen

    I don’t have a problem with leisure suit links in most cases. The departed and stalker could’ve done with some examples because I have no idea what they refer to.

  • http://www.sitepoint.com/articlelist/487/ Andrew Tetlaw

    @Tyssen,
    The Departed: the total absence of links, even when referring to other web sites.

    The Stalker: links styled to look exactly like the normal text around them. Typically they are underlined when you hover over them, but otherwise they blend right in.

  • bel

    You forgot the “Not a link to a web page afterall” hyperlink.
    Camouflaged for ambush, this link looks like its going to open another web page but instead is actually going to open up a PDF, DOC, email address, etc.
    Always when you are in a hurry, quickly scanning around for what you are looking for, you click one of these and then BAMM – you are stuck waiting with your hands tied while it launches your client software (particularly bad is the full version of Adobe Acrobat for PDF links, or Outlook for camouflaged email links).
    Oh, the howls of chagrin heard from my corner when I’ve stepped on one of these hyperlink landmines while in a hurry. “Nooooooo! OWWooooooo!!”

  • rmassart

    I think Usability fan has got it right. If you take the link out of context, then the following link text has no value:
    “kottke.org, the online home of Jason Kottke”
    Since it is simply the name of the site you are linking to, but it doesn’t say WHY you are linking there.
    Where as:
    “excellent examples of finely crafted hypertext”
    Tells you what you will find there.
    This is important because, as we all know, people tend not to read the entire web page, but skim it, stopping at text which sticks out (eg links)

  • http://www.heyraena.com raena

    @Meitar: to be blunt, if the author’s intent is to get me to read something, I need it to be sitting someplace easy to find, not lurking in a tooltip.

    John Gruber does this right; footnotes for the win.

  • Stevie D

    John Gruber does this right; footnotes for the win.

    I would go one further than that, and put the contents of the footnote as a title on the <a href=”#…”>, so that people don’t even need to jump down to the bottom of the page and then back up, which can be disorientating and it isn’t always immediately obvious where you left off reading. By allowing the reader to access the footnote via a tooltip, they can read it seamlessly without as much of a break.

  • Anonymous

    In the TechTimes newsletter:
    You often see this in web sites like Wikipedia and Everything2 — words that are linked to information that has little relevance to the surrounding text. For example:

    We all know that hyperlinks are the glue that holds the Web together.

    On the sitepoint website:

    The idea behind creating recommended font stacks is simple: since most web designers don’t know a great deal about font selection and typography for the Web, and have far too much on their plates to spend the time needed to learn, they need a one-stop shop of font stacks that provides a wide variety for all platforms—Windows, Mac and Linux.

  • Give ‘em what they want

    I’ve given up on the possibility of curing the “click here” syndrome, because so many of my clients seem to prefer it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten website text updates from a client that include explicit instructions to add a link to the phrase “Click here for more information.” While there are situations where I’ll insist on overriding a client’s wishes, citing significant usability or accessibility concerns, this is not one of them. While it may be true that the client has been improperly “trained” by seeing a bad practice used so widely, the fact still remains that he or she is comfortable with – or even prefers – using this linking convention. And I’ve seen no compelling studies proving that using it is a significant hindrance for site visitors, regardless of the philosophical arguments we designers make. If this is the biggest problem I have on a website, I’m a happy camper.

  • http://www.mockriot.com/ Josh Catone

    There was a really good discussion of “Click here” as link copy on SitePoint’s forums a little over a year ago. I won’t rehash it all here, but definitely worth a read:

    http://www.sitepoint.com/forums/showthread.php?threadid=504252

  • http://xslt2processor.sourceforge.net boen_robot

    Citing poorly educated clients is not that much of an excuse to me. With the same success (or should I say “failure”?), you can give up when they ask “am I going to be on the top of Google?” (too ambigous; if you give up, you’ll just say “yes”) or when they want “web 2.0 look” (too… false; I guess you can assume they mean “fancy graphics”) and “make something move” (too ’90s; I absolute never obey that one).

    As for link crimes, I’m guilty of some (for one reason or another), but I have to say, I understand that some people do these crimes because of SEO. In particular, the The Departed – if you’re a small news site, and link to a bigger one, you’re empowering it, making yourself even smaller in Googlebot’s eyes. Same reason for the middle man links – you’re only empowering the middle man a few times, not the other competitors a few less times.

    Leisure-suits make sence to me as a user, but they should have titles for screen readers’ sake.

    I hate Tautology links (if you haven’t guessed that by my first few sentences) and Stalker links.

    I don’t mind Interference links. Like Interference Linker, I find it interesting to look at multiple topics at once. If the text is relative (e.g. “glue” refers to an article about glue), I’d avoid clicking the link if I’m in a hurry, but if I’m not, who knows – the glue article may be an interesting read, so I’ll go ahead.

  • http://www.heyraena.com raena

    @StevieD, that doesn’t really solve the problem I mentioned earlier of having to actually move your mouse to see something that should be out in the open.

  • http://www.sitepoint.com/articlelist/487/ Andrew Tetlaw

    @boen_robot, @Interference Linker,

    I don’t have a problem with linking to peripheral topics, it’s just the implementation that bothers me. When I’m reading an article, for example, and encounter leisure suit links or interference links, I have to decide if I’m going to follow them. The decision process is hampered if there’s no indication of where the link goes or its relevance to the article. Often I resort to hovering over each link and inspecting the target URL – which I find incredibly distracting. It get’s worse when I mistakenly think the link was important to the article, I invest the time it takes to follow it only to discover that it was not important at all–just a side-topic.

    Usability is often about helping users build an accurate expectation of what an action will achieve, and then meeting that expectation once completed. When the result of an action does not meet user expectations, frustration and anxiety increase.

    These kind of links impede that process by offering next to no information initially and increasing the risk of inaccurate expectations.

  • http://www.sitepoint.com/articlelist/487/ Andrew Tetlaw

    @bel, yes! I agree — very annoying! Now we just have to think of a good name for it.
    The Masquerade ? The Harlequin ? The Landmine ? The Booby-trap ?

  • http://www.sitepoint.com/articlelist/487/ Andrew Tetlaw

    @Usability Fan, @davidfilmer,

    Yeah, I agree more thought could be put into the link text. I think I like @Usability Fan’s approach of linking the intention.

    @Iza, yeah I agree, there’s a bit of redundancy there too. But sometimes the name of a site is it’s URL, in which case there’s not much choice.

  • http://www.thesvfco.com SVF

    In the end, I always follow the same creed, treat others how you want to be treated. If the hypertext does not specifically state the purpose or where the link will take me, I am not going to even waste my time following it. I can always just google the information I want (after all, I can get 25 more pages to choose from that way). With that said, I would have to believe my visitors are as conscious as I am about hypertext and would do the same thing.If having a website is a business, and in business, time is money, then I rather maximize my ROI on hypertext than waste my time and money on any of the “rogue” forms.

  • Stevie D

    @raena

    that doesn’t really solve the problem I mentioned earlier of having to actually move your mouse to see something that should be out in the open

    Unless you put footnote text in a sidebar, or immediately following the paragraph where it is referenced (which I think would disturb the reading flow more), I don’t think there’s going to be an easy way around it – at least if there is a tooltip it is less effort than having to go to the bottom of the page and then back up.

  • Gail

    Crimes against English:

    Links must also be styled differently to the surrounding text. They can be another color than blue, as long as it’s different to the normal text, and that all the links in the page are the same color, so they’ll be clearly visible.

    One thing is not different TO another.

    One thing is different FROM another.

    ;-)

    On the whole, though, I agree with the gist of the article. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go clean up my links.

  • http://www.sthwind.com chaoley

    “A title attribute is optional, but should be used independently from providing a context because the tool tip only appears when using the mouse. If the link text is sufficient, it’s unnecessary anyway.”

    The title attribute is not optional, it’s there for accesibility reasons. Visually impaired users with screen readers for example.

  • http://www.sitepoint.com/articlelist/487/ Andrew Tetlaw

    @chaoley, I thought so too, but apparently not:
    Dive Into Accessibility, Day 14: Adding Titles to Links

    Not all links should have titles. If the link text is the name of an article, don’t add a title; the link text itself is descriptive enough.

  • http://www.wynnefields.com/ Wynnefield

    Working with an internal department to develop a new recruiting site with a CMS, they were at liberty to enter the job title, summary and identify the link to the detailed description. After the initial setup, I began to notice row after row of (similar to “click here” links):

    Job Title of the Position or Role
    This is a one or two line summary of the job description and/or requirements of the position ... More >>
    Job Title of the Position or Role
    More >>
    Job Title of the Position or Role
    More >>

    After explaining the Search Engines are indexing the “More >>” links as more relevant than the actual Job Descriptions, they finally started making the Job Titles the actual hyperlinks and did away with the “More >>” verbiage altogether.

    I understand the usability aspect of using sensible hypertext; however, I could not agree more strongly with Lyn, who I believe was the first one above to note the benefits of including strong keyword phrases as hypertext for SEO benefits.

  • http://www.wynnefields.com/ Wynnefield

    Please ignore my nasty spacing. I accidentally removed the break tags thinking they were adding an additional line in the wrong places. Should look more like this:


    Job Title of the Position or Role
    This is a one or two line summary of the job description and/or requirements of the position ... More >>
    Job Title of the Position or Role
    More >>
    Job Title of the Position or Role
    More >>

  • http://www.wynnefields.com/ Wynnefield

    oh well, just ignore me … just like these posts have ignored my paragraph and break tags … :-(

  • Stevie D

    @chaoley

    The title attribute is not optional, it’s there for accesibility reasons. Visually impaired users with screen readers for example.

    The title attribute is optional. It should only be used where additional text, over and above the link text and surrounding context, may be needed for users to understand the link destination/purpose.

    Adding a title attribute to help accessibility won’t always help. Screen readers may or may not read the title attribute, depending on type and configuration – you can’t rely on the title being read, so you should make sure that the link makes sense even without the title. But if all you’re doing with the title is adding redundancy or repetition, don’t! People using screen readers don’t want to hear “Link: Contact us. Visit our contact page” – they know what “Link: Contact us” means, and having it repeated is irritating, unnecessary, time-wasting and insulting.

  • mgaigg

    In the beginning was the link… PLEASE (pleeaaasssse) make links meaningful, not because this article or WCAG tells you, no, for your own good.

    I suggest the following blog entry Design Guidelines: Links that outlines important rules for creating links.

    Personally I still cannot understand that – like Andrew says – links are so easy to create but still not done right.

  • Yanni

    I agree with the idea of right usage of links, but I am afraid you are missing out “the average target visitor” in the equation.
    Click Here is really a bad way of linking but it’s so popular, because so many people are asking WHERE DO I CLICK while staring at a link. This is what moved most of designers to use this pointless click here link. One of my customers last week actually forced me to use CLICK HERE (of course I added at least a description of what you expect to get from the link) for his links because he knows what his customers are like with computers and internet.
    The above instructions and comments all have a point but I am afraid only work best for more advanced users.
    Then again, you may claim ok, let’s educate the masses, but who is going to sacrifice first their usability of their site and eventually their online sales to educate the masses? Any volunteers? :)

  • le sigh

    The eternal design dilemma: do I remove “click here” because leaving it in is stupid, or do I leave it in place because my users are stupid?

    The only solution seems to be to sell everything I own and live in the woods. :(

  • http://www.fiveminuteargument.com 5minuteargument

    @Yanni, @le sigh: However much you think your users understand “Click here” better, take into account what a screen full of “click here” links looks like – descriptive link text is good for scanning as well as careful reading.

    There’s a very fine balance between linking your existing text in such a way that it is obviously a link (so you don’t need to write “Click here”) and not disrupting the reading flow by making the link too distracting. Techniques to achieve the latter include shortening links (appropriately, of course) and using border-bottom instead of text-decoration.

    Don’t forget that an increasing number of users don’t actually “click” either – if you really think your users are that stupid, you should probably reword all your “click here” links to “activate this link” or something equally ridiculous. Please don’t adopt bad practises because you think some of your users are stupid – that’s a sure-fire way of making everyone stupid whether they like it or not.

  • LadyNama

    Well let’s also remember accessibility! “Click here” is not accessible for users using a screen reader. Many people use the scan setting which will scan all of the links. If the links are all “click here” how someone to know what the link is for?

    I cannot stand lists of links that are full URL’s either. I am wondering what others think of the full URL links?

  • freddy

    Blaming the user for being “stupid” or even poorly educated is not new to the web, developers have been doing this since GUI interfaces were invented. It’s the developer’s job to design interfaces that are usable. What’s usable? Doesn’t this depend on your target user base? If your client wants ‘click here’ because the users are newbies or whatever the problem is, then so be it. I’m tired of seeing projects handed to smiling yes-ma’am consultants while I argue for elegant code or doing it ‘right’.

  • http://www.sitepoint.com/articlelist/537/ Meitar

    I am wondering what others think of the full URL links?

    I think we’d all do well to remember the fact that in Tim Berners-Lee’s original vision of the Web, the URI was never intended to be user-visible! Naturally, my interpretation of this is that a link should be natural language, not a URL. :)