Redish Chapter 12: Writing Meaningful Links

Helping visitors navigate a web site is as important as creating clear, simple text. Visitors scan information in an F pattern, and typically do not read everything. In addition, they search for easily identifiable keys, such as blue text with an underline. This is the common formatting for links. Changing colors to indicate a link has been used is another visual cue.

On webpagesthatsuck.com, the author and contributors identify poorly designed website and explain why they are so bad. One of the comments used to describe bad links is “Mystery Meat Navigation.” The use of this term – fondly reminiscent of military chowhall fare – refers to links that are either buried in the design and are not readily recognizable, or that take the visitor to incomprehensible pages. Mystery Meat Navigation doesn’t answer any of the typical questions visitors ask, such as how, what, where or why.

The best links lead the visitor in a logical manner to pages or sites that make sense, in the context of the information. Links should be clearly identifiable and name what the visitor can expect when clicking on it. While labeling a link “click here” may have been acceptable in the 1980s and 90s, it is no longer necessary. The vast majority of people have enough experience with Internet technology to be able to figure out how to use a link. What they really want to know is the why or where of links.

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