Click here if you don’t know what a link is

When the web was young and developers didn’t know better, everyone used the Click Here type link. You’d have pages where all of the links would be:

Click here to download our brand new software.

All of a sudden, the ‘Powers of Usability’, stated that links should link to what they are talking about, without becoming unusable. We’d start getting links like.

Download our brand new software.

Now this makes more sense to many developers, and Google loves it, but what about those people who don’t have a clue? Links can be styled in many ways: not underlined, overlined, pink, blue, black etc. Gone are the standards when all links were blue and underlined, and perhaps with the push to descriptive links, we’ve missed out a chunk of the audience that actually can’t tell what is a link.

So what can we do?

Well, Google often looks at links in your document, and pays the most attention to the first link (when all of the links point to the same place), which gives us something like:

Download our brand new software by clicking here.

Is this more ugly? Possibly. Is it more hassle to maintain? Certainly. But is there a benefit to those users who still expect an obvious place to click? It would be interesting to see some stats on the above link as to which one more people actually clicked on. I would wager it’s the ‘click here’, rather than the ‘search engine’ link.

What are your thoughts?

One thought on “Click here if you don’t know what a link is

  1. Yes, sometimes you do need “click here” – but it tends to be a workaround at best. It was born out of the old “mystery meat” navigation problem. Rather than fixing the core issue of making clickable items actually look clickable, people used a quick text fix.

    My real issue with “click here” is that we’re patronising users. For the most part, they’re not idiots and we shouldn’t treat them as such. They know how to use the internet. (The pedant in me wants to point out the input devices where you don’t “click” as such too.)

    If your link isn’t being clicked, perhaps it doesn’t look enough like a link? Convention says they should be underlined in most cases (etc). But if it’s not in body text, or it’s the main call to action on a page, perhaps you should make it look like a button? Maybe combine the two somehow? Maybe the language isn’t strong enough?

    You know the keyword advertising you see on some sites (usually with double-underlines)? That sort of thing drives me up the wall because it actively puts people off clicking real links. But that’s a whole other issue.

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