Tips and Tricks
Accessibility: Don't "Click Here" for More Information
Back in the early days of the Internet, the average person did not know how to surf the Internet or what did what when you “clicked” on it with your mouse. In order to point them in the right direction, the early web maintainers used to include the words “click here” or “here” or “more” to the links. That time has come and gone not only with the advent of better web design and more people comfortable with surfing the Internet but also with the development of web for mobile devices that have touch screens – not mice enabled.
No “click” examples:
- For a mobile device user, you press down on the screen where you see the mail icon and then lift your finger up.
- For a deaf person who has never heard a “click” in their life, even while using the mouse, you move your mouse cursor over the mail icon, press down on the left mouse button, then release the button.
- For a handicapped person using a keyboard to navigate to the mail icon, you push down on an arrow key and release the key to move over to the mail icon, and then you push down on the Enter key and release the key.
- For a handicapped person with no ability to use hands or feet, you may be blowing on a device or winking a certain way in order to access your mail on the icon.
Calls to Action / Informative Language
You see from the above examples, “click” is not an accurate description of what you should be doing at all times to access a link; however, you should take the time to determine what text is in that link. Your link should be informative or give someone an action to take. Calls to action do not involve telling someone how to use the Internet; they know how to do that by now. Instead, you should be relaying a goal you want them to achieve.
For example, you are posting a form on your website about applying to a cooking class for making eggnog. ‘Tis the season, after all, to get them geared up in that direction. Here are some ways you can approach that text:
- Apply now for our eggnog making class!
- Learn how to make eggnog!
- Want to impress your friends this holiday season with your own homemade eggnog? Fill out the eggnog class application. First come, first served eggnog!
- Eggnog Class Application
Notice that not once did the links, symbolized here as the underlined text, ever mention “clicking” anywhere or that the form was located “here.” The links are all engaging the user with informative information about what they are about to access. The links are made obvious by the fact that everyone using your website knows what your links look like as opposed to generic text.
Why shouldn’t you use “here,” “click here,” “more info,” “this” or any other generic text for a link? After all, if someone read your link in the context of the paragraph it was in, surely they’d know where they were going to, right? For visual users, yes. For blind users, not necessarily. Blind users have learned from surfing the Internet that there is a lot of extra nonsense that they don’t necessarily need to hear their screen readers repeat over and over again across websites. They use a short cut to cut down on the time to scan a webpage that lists out all the links on the page.
Imagine if you were blind and had to hear this:
- Click here
- Click here
- More info
Are you ready to access any of these links? Obviously not because you have no idea where any of them go. They don’t give you enough information about which actions you might want to take on the web page. You would have to access each link individually and get rather frustrated playing a memory game on which ones you’ve already checked off your list as not being correct.
Search Engine Optimization
Even Google doesn’t understand what you are getting at with generic text on your links. Imagine doing a search for your “Eggnog Class Application Form,” but all you had placed in the text for the link was “here.” Google and other search engines looking at your site will not associate “Eggnog Class Application Form” to the form. Instead, you’d have to search for the term “here,” and “here” can mean anything if your website is filled with “here” links. That’s like hunting for a needle in a haystack which will frustrate your users and encourage them to learn how to make eggnog from another school they can more easily find in the search results.