Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Free Choice and The Usability of Links

Usability of links....

"Yesterday I was conducting a website evaluation for a site that contains a right side column of information intended to express the credibility of the site owner. Each section of this long column began with a few words that are underlined. However, none of them were links. As a conditioned creature of the Internet, I can't tell you how many times I tried to click them anyway - even when I knew that none of them were going to take me anywhere.

Why does underlining words that don't link anywhere matter?

The first reason is convention. Or, another way to say it - conditioned behavior. We know that since the beginning of Internet time, a procedure was invented to signal a way to get from point A to point B. Most probably that direction is an underlined word that when clicked, changes color and even if not clicked, often is a different color from the rest of the content. It may even be a different font face and size. And, it's underlined. It takes the visitor somewhere else.

In today's web design, color as a link indicator is no longer a valid, confident clue. For starters, screen readers don't note color changes. In addition, web designers have wanted creative freedom, and this has meant color changes that occur only when a word is moused over. It has meant any color, not just the standard blue and purple. The right column I was presented with had underlined words presented in the same color font and same font size as the rest of the content inside the column. The underline decoration just screamed to be clicked by its plain old innocent self."   continued ...   (Via cre8PC)

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