Don’t disappoint readers
A suitor asks you on a date but doesn’t show up. A parent says she’ll play a game but never does. A link on a website says Products & services but opens a registration page instead.
These broken promises “make a person feel baited, annoyed, disrespected, disappointed, and duped,” writes Kara Pernice, managing director at Nielsen Norman Group.
Good links, she says, should:
Tell visitors what they’ll find if they click.
If your link says, “Three encouraging steps toward new antibiotics,” so should the headline of the page it links to.
Stand on their own.
Visitors scan headings, bullet, digits, capital letters, buttons and links. Many visitors don’t read the adjacent content. Make the link understandable without that context. Substitute descriptive phrases, like Chat with a specialist, Products and services, or Baby born on airplane. Skip transactional words like go, more and read more.
Lead to the right place on the right page.
When web visitors do click, they should find the content they expect on the viewable area of the content page — without scrolling, clicking or tapping to display it. The page should confirm the visitor’s assumptions with a clear headline and an image that relates to the topic at hand.
“Any broken promise, large or small, chips away at trust and credibility,” Pernice writes. “The words in a link label make a strong suggestion about the page that is being linked to. The destination page should fulfill what the anchor text promises.”
Sources: Kara Pernice, “A Link is a Promise,” Nielsen Norman Group, Dec. 14, 2014