In a recent blog post on Jakob Nielsen’s user experience website called ‘A Link is a Promise‘, Kara Pernice argues that:
“Any broken promise, large or small, chips away at trust and credibility. 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.”
And we in the digital team couldn’t agree more. Based on eyetracking research it has been proven that when links are formatted different to the rest of your text, they will attract user attention. Therefore your links should help take the user on their next step of their journey and guide them through your content towards user-centric goals and calls to actions.
This is especially important when prospective students are browsing our course pages, trying to decide whether to study with us. Or for current students who need to find their most up to date fee amounts or induction information.
Pernice states: “the best links are salient and descriptive”. Links are signposts and should stand out and be easy to read – they should also be written so the user can “determine the strength of the information scent” and decide whether they want to click through to the page, and if they do they should land on a page which reflects the content of the link.
Therefore when writing your links make sure:
- they are not too long and accurately describe the destination page – never just write ‘click here’
- you are linking to the correct and the most up to date version of the page – broken links are very bad practice and a big turn-off for every user
- the destination page confirms the promise of the link text by offering visual “cues to tell the users that they have arrived in the right place, and how to move further ahead” – position the expected content in the default viewable area, don’t force the users to scroll, and include an image that connects to the topic or theme.