The website user should be able to use it effortlessly, easily find the information that is interesting to him/her and easily navigate between the subpages. This process is significantly improved by buttons with hyperlinks. They are commonly used on websites and in mobile applications. However, is each button helpful? Or maybe it introduces unnecessary information noise? What content should it contain, apart from the often used “click here”? The answers you will find below.
Information foraging theory
A starting point for designing hyperlinks should be knowledge of how people search for information. Few of us are aware that this is closely related to our biological conditioning. When looking for information, humans use “built-in” foraging mechanisms that have evolved and, years ago, helped our ancestors find food! What does this mean for digital products creators? The user assesses the usefulness of individual elements on the website or in the application in terms of satisfying their information needs and analyzes the time and energy expenditure that must be incurred to obtain specific data.
Recipients do not read all the content on the page, but rather “scan” it in search of the so-called “Information scent”, which suggests what to expect after clicking on a given link, moving to the next paragraph or a selected section on the website.
That’s why the popular “Click here” doesn’t work. The information trail must be clear and provide strict indications that will minimize the effort to reach the information desired by the user, and thus improve his experience and positively affect the reception of the digital product.
Correct link and wrong link
Vague, not very specific phrases significantly affect the usability, accessibility and searchability of a website or application. Why?
Links: Here / More / Click / etc. do not provide the recipient with enough information. What’s more, such buttons used repeatedly in several places on the website forces additional actions to distinguish them and find out what exactly is hidden under tle link – e.g. reading the text near the hyperlink, hovering the cursor over the button to display the URL or even switching to another subpage that the user did not want to visit. In this situation, even styling the hyperlink and making it stand out from the rest of the content will not help.
The lack of keywords increases the cognitive load, lengthens the process of reaching the right information and may even irritate the recipient. That is why you should properly describe the links with specific and more informative phrases that will immediately indicate what they refer to.
Inclusive design, which is definitely up-to-date, assumes enabling the largest possible group of recipients to use the same digital product – taking into account the differences between them and their limitations. When creating a website or web application, we should remember that users may have certain deficits or disabilities and help to overcome them – not additionally hinder the performance of specific activities.
For example, people using screen readers will not be able to effectively use the website when the hyperlinks are inaccurately described. The screen reader is a computer program that recognizes and interprets the information displayed on the monitor and presents it in voice form or sends it to a Braille device. The button with the word More will be read like: Link More. That doesn’t say much, does it? Without additional context, we cannot say where it will send us.
A simple and clear phrase, such as Our products, Price list, About us, would be much more useful.
If we want our website or application to be found by the internet user and to position itself better against other websites, it should be optimized in terms of SEO. Indexing robots (web crawlers) collect data about the structure and content of a page and evaluate its value based on titles, headings and hyperlinks. When the indexing search engine does not see a close relationship between the link used and the content it leads to, it considers the hyperlink incorrect and will not index a given subpage for a specific keyword.
If we want our website to be searchable after entering the desired phrase, we should use precise terms and keywords.
How to do it better?
Below are some good UX practices that are worth remembering when designing a website:
- Precision, simplicity and no generalities
Do you know where the link will lead you? Without a broader context, you cannot appraise it.
Click here and read more about our unique products
In this case, we already receive specific information about the content of the link, but don’t you think that some of the words are completely redundant?
Here we get short and precise information that we do not need to analyze – we immediately know what we will find under the link.
There is only one conclusion – brief, but at the same time descriptive terms affect the speed of searching for information and make navigating the website or application more effective and pleasant for the user. Use nouns. Use simple phrases that are understandable to most people. Avoid metaphors, neologisms and jargon.
- Uniqueness of a hyperlink
It is a good practice to use unique names of hyperlinks so that the recipient can easily judge what he will find under a certain button and does not get the impression that each link leads to the same place. Repeated links such as Click here, More, etc. may even be considered as SPAM.
Of course, there are situations in which we want to redirect the recipient to a given section or subpage from several points of the website, e.g. to the Contact tab. But we should remember that a large number of page views does not have to translate into the user’s action, for example, contacting our company in order to receive an offer. It can, however, distract the recipient.
- Location of the link and key phrases
In order to simplify the process of finding key phrases in our links, and thus searching for information that is relevant to the user, we should, if possible, put keywords at the very beginning of the hyperlink, eg. What’s new in the online store. But remember that when a phrase starts to sound unnatural – let’s not stick to this rule. Linguistic correctness is also important :).
In addition, we should remember how to place the link on the subpage – the higher (e.g. in the Hero section), the greater probability that the user will click on it. It is also important in terms of SEO – a hyperlink located higher is more valuable for web crawlers.
- Appearance of the hyperlink
As it was mentioned before, the recipients, after entering the website, do not read 100% of the content, but intuitively look for an interesting information trail. If we want the link to be noticed quickly, it should stand out. Therefore, let’s not forget about its proper styling. Most often it is underlining and highlighting a hyperlink in blue. But, of course, we can do much more – you can use a button, an interesting icon, a non-standard color and a font – only our imagination limits us.
To sum up
Creating a proper hyperlinking may seem time-consuming and require some effort at first, but it will definitely be appreciated by the end users – enabling them to find information easier and more accurately. In addition, properly constructed hyperlinks will positively affect the navigation of the recipient through the website or application and improve their overall performance.