Noooooo! Click ‘here’ actually worked?

I’m stunned.  Horrified, actually.  Absolutely disturbed.  And a bit humbled too.

I have the worse time believing the evidence Dustin Curtis is sharing in his story, You Should Follow Me on Twitter.

I have always argued you should avoid using the phrase ‘click here’ for hyperlinks.  Worse still, use just the word ‘here’.  Plenty of people do it.   Plenty of people argue it’s not that bad.

But I argue that yes, it IS that bad to use ‘here’ and ‘click here’.  Why?

  1. Accessibility. Admittedly, improvements have probably been made to screen reading technology over the years.  When I was last exposed there was a very helpful feature that allowed you to listen to all the links on the page.  How useful is it to hear the very useful phrase ‘here’ and ‘click here’ repeated over and over and over?
  2. Research.  In 2003 (?) Jared Spool was doing his shtick on Designing for the Scent of Information and he spoke extensively about how their research suggested there was an optimal number of words that made links more effective.

    Notice I used a plural there…WORDS.  Not WORD.  It was 7-10 words to be precise.

  3. Visual Design. Links are an essential component of a page’s visual design.  Imagine a page full of text paragraphs.  Imagine you are scanning.  When you’re scanning, it’s almost like things are blurry.  You can almost think of the text as little tiny blobs. A large colored blob (the equivalent of  a link that uses descriptive words) is going to be more readily seen than a small blob (a single short word like here) .Judge for yourself
    Visualizing a 'here' link

    Visualizing a 'here' link

    Visualizing a descriptive link

    Visualizing a descriptive link

Now Dustin’s research is limited to his own website–not hundreds of sites and experiences.  So I think some of the criticism I’ve read is a little unwarranted (though all publicity is good, right?).

I think what Dustin’s informal research demonstrates is using ‘here’ is effective for some audiences.

I have to wonder what would happen if he continued the experiment:

If he changed the call to action back to a previous statement, would he see a dip in followers via the site or would they continue to rise? Is it possible the site just increased in popularity among new visitors who decided to follow?

I admit that I am still surprised that writing a call to action in this manner worked so well for him.  But this is exactly why we test.  What works for one audience won’t necessarily work for another.

Kudos to Dustin.

One thought on “Noooooo! Click ‘here’ actually worked?

  1. Very interesting, though I have to disagree, or at least provide a different perspective.

    More and more, I see evidence that if people are explicitly directed to do something, they’re much more likely to do it. This goes not just for using “click here”, but also for pointing out what it is that the person clicking is going to see. For example, when links to our site link the text “download the PDF” or “read the report” vs “a recent report states”, people are MUCH more likely to download the PDF.

    I definitely agree that making the link more visible is better, and even if the words “click here” are used, the longer phrase should be linked, but I’ve actually seen much greater response when the action is stated.

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