Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Web Design & Development > Blogs

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

When Users Arrive at the Target, Make Success Obvious

Figure 7

Background: Confirm that the link worked

The greatest torture in the world for most people is to think.
—Luther Burbank

How often have you clicked a link, gone to a page, and wondered, "Did I click the wrong thing? This doesn't look like what I clicked."

Bait-and-switch links tempt you to click, but dump you onto a page where the title has nothing to do with the linktext.

To defend themselves against this common practice, users scope out the target page before settling in for a good read. They look at:

  • The title ("Is it the same text as the linktext?")

  • Any headings at the top of the page ("Same topic?")

  • Any introductory text ("Is this about what I am after?")

  • The caption under any prominent picture ("Forget the image. Does the text match my expectation?")

Only after some or all of these confirm that the page is on topic, relevant, and interesting, will the user bother to read any more text—or look at those gorgeous images.

To reassure users and confirm they reached the target page they were after:

  • Make the title text match the original link—exactly.

  • Make the title as descriptive as possible, moving keywords to the front, and assuming users will not see more than 65 characters.

  • Make any headings near the top of the page echo the same theme as the title. Ditto for headers (the text that appears at the top of each page in a section).

  • Write introductions to sum up the page accurately, to warn people off if the title itself confused them.

  • Consider captions as major content and write for the arriving visitor (who may not have looked at the image), rather than an intrigued fan who has just spent thirty seconds looking at the image.

Examples

Before

After

Linktext: Help

Title: Frequently Asked Questions

Linktext: Help

Title: Help

Linktext: Home Office Supplies

Title: So You Need a Stapler?

Linktext: Home Office Supplies

Title: Home Office Supplies

Linktext: Gardening Tips

Title: Can You Dig This?

Linktext: Getting a New Garden Shovel

Title: Getting a New Garden Shovel

Heading: Shoveling and Hoeing

Caption on nearby image: Sun brings out the robins.

Heading: Choosing the Best Shovel for Your Soils and Seasons

Caption on nearby image: Sharp-edged and shiny, a new shovel signals the start of a new year of gardening.

Figure 8 Before and After


Audience fit

If visitors want this...

How well does this guideline apply?

To have fun

The misleading link, the confusing title, the heading that's not apropos, a skewed intro, and off-topic captions can be seen as intriguing, if your audience likes solving puzzles. If they just want to have fun, maybe not.

To learn

Confirm arrival, to avoid distracting the learner.

To act

Not following the guideline simply makes the user think and do more than expected, just to find out how to carry out the original task. Not cool.

To be aware

Be gentle, even if your prose seems plain. Confirm that your guest has arrived. Pour some tea.

To get close to people

Don't get them angry at you with loused-up links and misleading pages.

See: Apple (1999), Berners-Lee (1995), Krug (2000), Lynch and Horton (1999), Microsoft (2000), Nielsen (2000b), Shneiderman (1992).


  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account