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Writing for the Web: Part Two



In this session I will discuss creating better links. Our members are experiencing an information overload both in their work environments and personal life. We need to help our members navigate our complex new Website to access the information they need. Remember, our members are NOT here to read for enjoyment but to find information.

  • Click counting and tracking are the most popular methods used to measure user interest
  • Links may be the only words users actually read
  • Clicking is how our Web viewers find what they are looking for

Don't Use ‘Click Here’ for Your Links

‘Click here’ says nothing and provides no useful information. Most people scanning a Web page will NOT even see links that read ‘click here’. ‘Click here’ offers no “scent”. Users will click as long as they sense that the information they are seeking is close.

  • Communicate information “scent” through links

  • Keep link text short

  • Links and descriptions need to clearly describe what users will find

Information Scent: a theory of people's information-consumption behavior, where people are viewed as foraging for information like animals foraging for food. According to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) links should:

  • Be brief and meaningful text
    • Links need to be 3-7 words long
    • Do not make users guess where the link will send them
    • Do not write sentences
  • Provide information even when read out of context
    • Viewers do NOT read they scan
    • Links need to provide concise links to specific information
    • Links may be the only thing our viewers read
  • Explain what the link offers
    • Do not surprise our members
    • Do not attempt to apply marketing strategies with links

Focus on Outcome Rather Than Input

Writing links nudges us to think about the outcome rather than the input. We need to use links to support the member and what the member is seeking.

  • What does the member want to do?
  • What do they want to do next? Once we ask those questions we are forced to think of the language of the link
  • Our words are by far the most powerful tools we have
  • Use specific, precise words to convey meaning

In Summary

Avoid PR, advertising and marketing in your links, place that information in the content, not the link.

Examples of what NOT to do with a link:

  • "networking on the course"
  • "improve your business"
  • Starting with blah-blah and leaving the information-carrying text at the end

Good examples of what to do with a link:

  • Use plain language  (clear)
  • Make links specific and brief (concise)
  • Start with the message (reverse pyramid)
  • Use action-oriented text (compelling)
  • Do not mislead or over promise (fulfill expectations)

Both our local Chapter site and National site provides members with a vast number of resources, easily accessible with the click of the mouse. Selecting a link is often a gamble, involving the hope that by waiting for the linked page to load the member will be rewarded with information they need. Let’s concentrate on fulfilling those needs!

1 comment




Jun 06, 2012 11:59

Writing for the Web Part One is available online.