Don’t Click Here — How to Write Effective Hypertext
One of the most compelling ways to add interest to your website is to include relevant links to related content. This post outlines the best practices for writing meaningful link text inline with your main body copy.
Writing effective link text is part of good user experience design, especially given that link text typically has a different visual treatment that highlights it in the main body text. When done well, it helps to call attention to key concepts in a streamlined and elegant fashion. When done poorly, it can be messy and distracting, creating extraneous content that may even displace premium content in the prime space above the fold. Consider the following two options:
Place the contents of your earthquake kit into a bin, then secure the bin with giant rubber bands. Click here to order rubber bands.
Place the contents of your earthquake kit into a bin, then secure the bin with giant rubber bands.
In the fist example, the linked text provides no added value to the sentence itself — it just adds more words. Click here doesn’t say anything. It’s more of an old-school throwback to the days when people didn’t understand how text links worked. Now, most users are savvy enough to realize that clicking on text of a different color will take you somewhere new and exciting. In the second example, the linked text makes it easy to quickly scan the copy and not only see a key idea, but also know exactly what you’re going to learn more about when you click on it.
General Guidelines for Writing Link Text
Writing good hypertext is quite easy, especially if your copy includes relevant content from the start. To provide a little more guidance, your hypertext should:
- Be clear and informative, even on its own
- Not be a verb phrase (e.g., “Click here…”)
- Avoid getting into mechanics (as in “Available at this website”)