How to create helpful hyperlinks – and why you should avoid “click here” links

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UX designers often need to direct users to other web pages or documents. One way to achieve this is to use a “click here” or “read more” hyperlink. But is this really the best approach?

The short answer is no. Using “click here” or “read more” links is often problematic for your users. In this article, we discuss three key reasons why you should avoid using them in your content. You’ll also find three easy steps to follow if you want to create helpful hyperlinks.

Three reasons to avoid “click here” and “learn more” hyperlinks

  • It slows users down

Most of us like to skim through the text on a website – our busy lifestyles mean we don’t have time to read and digest every single word. Over the past 23 years, studies by Nielsen Norman Group have consistently found that people tend to read just 20-28% of words on a web page. It’s not much, so bear in mind that users are probably looking for keywords or phrases to help them find the information they need. Descriptive headings and specific links are the best way to help users scan the page and navigate it more quickly. 

  • It leads to uncertainty

Generic terms like “click here” for a hyperlink can be unnerving for your users. And if they’re not sure where they’re going to end up after clicking the link, they probably won’t bother opening it. After all, they won’t want to be redirected to a dodgy site, waste their time waiting for a page they don’t need to load or waste their data allowance on content they aren’t interested in. 

  • Your users might not be “clicking” at all 

Many users will access your website using a mobile device or tablet. Smartphones can be used for pretty much everything nowadays, whether you’re booking a taxi, ordering a takeaway or buying tickets to a gig. That means most users won’t be clicking a mouse at all. In some cases, they’ll be using voice commands or tapping the screen. As a general rule, it’s best to avoid talking about mechanics in your hyperlinks

Three steps to helpful hyperlinks

  • Make them unique

Don’t be tempted to use the same hyperlink text more than once. Using a “read more” hyperlink at the end of every paragraph is too vague. It could even lead to users thinking that all of the links will take them to the same endpoint.

Most of your users will skim over the whole page before they begin visiting the hyperlinks, so if they’re all the same, it will take them much longer to work out which ones to open. Using unique text for each hyperlink helps tell your users exactly where each link will take them. 

  • Make them meaningful

A clear, descriptive hyperlink will help users to quickly decide which links they want to visit. Remember, they might not follow the links as they read the webpage. Most people will scan the page, decide which parts they are most interested in and then go on to visit the appropriate links. 

For example:

Use this link: Four Steps to Create a Successful Digital Proposition

Not this: Click here to read four key steps to create a successful digital proposition

Use this link: How to create User-Friendly Quote and Buy Forms

Not this: Learn more about how to create user-friendly quote and buy forms

  • Make sure they include keywords

Most of us read web pages in an F pattern – that means our eyes move from left to right, then down the left hand side of the page. We tend to read more words at the top of the page, but this naturally reduces as we scroll further down. 

Putting the most important words at the beginning of your hyperlinks helps users to pick out the information that’s most relevant to them when they are scanning the page. Not only does this benefit users, but it helps in situations where you have limited space. Best of all, it’s helpful for your SEO. 

Summary

Helpful hyperlinks are unique and descriptive. Where possible, you should include keywords within the first couple of words of your hyperlink. Whenever you are writing links, consider what the user will see when they follow it – and make sure that’s made clear from the hyperlink text you choose.

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