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Web Design Reference Guide

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Peace and Link Love

Last updated Oct 17, 2003.

Links can be golden, but they can also be a burden. Content with links in every other sentence is overwhelming and call for decision-making as the user has to decide if she wants to stay or get more information that lies behind the link. Perhaps, the user decides to click on a link only to never return has she has taken off on a voyage of a link trail away from the site.

Think about the content and a link strategy that would work with the content. Does the content use a lot of terminology? It might call for pop-up boxes or jumping to another page or definition within the same site as shown in figure 3.15. Pop ups or mouseover tooltips save space and prevent readers from losing their place. However, this is an issue with people who surf JavaScript turned off especially those using browsers or pop up stoppers, which prevent them from viewing pop ups.

Put links toward the end of the content to avoid interrupting reading or losing the reader before he finishes the content. Though clicking on links is under the reader's control, it's a case of irresistibility and curiosity. The reader can't help but click on the link even if he wants to continue reading. Eventually, he may click on more links and never return.

In keeping the content concise, authors tend to provide links to give the reader context to better understand the content instead of the material instead of providing a full account. This is not a bad thing, but it could turn into a linking nightmare and not give the reader the full picture of the content. To resolve this, provide just enough background surrounding the topic so the reader can understand the material. Good links are those that lead a reader to in depth information about the topic or to support the information provided, but shouldn't be critical to understanding.

Tip #9: Use links last and in context.