[thelist] 'Click here'

Ben Henick persist1_pdx at yahoo.com
Tue Oct 31 00:40:53 CST 2000

Beware as this is a ramble... which I hope will be at least slightly
insightful.  I should've done a better job of offering conclusions,
but... oh, well.

> >(through the insistence of  PHBs who consider themselves creative
> writers),

I wish this were the reason, really I do.

> I don't think it is more usable.  If you have to use "click here" to 
> get the idea across, you are almost certainly being a lazy, bad, 
> disingenuous writer.  If you are writing, lazy, bad, disingenuous 
> text, you are almost certainly having difficulty communicating ideas 
> through your text.  If you are having difficulty communicating ideas 
> through text, your site is probably not as usable as a site that 
> employs clear, concise, communicative text.

But you can take the concept too far, and I think this is what the
clickhereheads are trying to avoid:


[Great writing - especially for a programmer - but his application of
hypertext occasionally drives me nuts]

> "click" is a verb.   But there are many other verbs in the English 
> language, and if they are strong, and if your nouns are specific, and

> if links are good key words or terse pithy phrases that are 
> underlined & blue, users will get the idea.

Ah, but there's a bit of a mismatch here.

What I see is a gumbo of interface paradigms.

The bigger the hotspot, the more accessible the information behind it
becomes.  However, this is poor style on the web because it becomes
monotonous and/or takes up too much of a footrpint.

Any good ad includes a call to action (and preferably one that is
communicated through more than one sensorium).  That's why banner ads
almost always suffer from acute clickhereitis.

Fitting links into text is good writing but poor UI, and can make for
unpleasant surprises.

You can put all of the links into a list at the bottom of the document,
but this approach will frustrate experienced users.

I'm fond of flattening the navigation structure by providing a sitemap,
but this forces the user to spend a lot of their time with their Back

The good news is that the target audience will often give clues as to
the proper approach to take.

I mean, let's face it.  If you're dealing with the crowd that actually
LIKES AOL, then there's a good chance that you'll get away with an
acute attack of clickhereitis.

If you're providing bits of info, the flat structure is good, and you
can likely also do the "list at the foot of the page" thing.  If OTOH
your mission is to entertain the audience, this is the LAST thing you
want to do (unless of course it's free-form writing of some kind).

Message/post-based user-contributed content requires a completely
different approach... and so on.


> When you repeat something more than a couple of times, the user's 
> brain goes numb.  If there's nothing but "click here" here, there & 
> everywhere, it becomes nothing but noise.

I agree enthustiastically with Erika on this point.

Ben Henick              |  "In the long run, men hit only
Web Author At-Large     |  what they aim at.  Therefore,
www.io.com/persist1/    |  though they should fail
persist1 at io.com         |  immediately, they had better aim
persist1_pdx at yahoo.com  |  high."  --Henry David Thoreau

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