Breaking usability principles for usability
10 February 2004
In my "blog about Wikipedia"n:/plog/blogitem-040206-1 I mentioned that one thing I didn't like about Wikipedia is that there are too many links that distract you when you're reading. I prefer to read the text when the inline links aren't underlined like they do it on "susning.nu"n:http://susning.nu/susning.fcgi?action=browse&id=Emacs&oldid=EMACS or "metafilter.com"n:http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/31190.
"Slashdot"n:http://slashdot.org/ disagrees with me. Look at this example on Slashdot. So many links that you don't know whether to read it or to click everything.
The convention of good web design usability is that links should look like links. I.e. blue (purple when visited) and underlined. I still wholeheartedly agree to this, but blog articles are exceptions. Normally in blog articles you want to link certain words to ease surfing. That's a good thing, but I say too many links can draw away attention from what is important.
This is why my new solution supports both underlined and not-underlined. Underlined links for things I urge people to click on and non-underlined for all those things that are just references.
Three examples, where the writing objective is to focus on "Search by Location" but you still want to have a reference link to "Google":
- With Google you can Search by Location
Not obvious which one is the most important
- With "Google"n:http://www.google.com you can "Search by Location"n:http://labs.google.com/location
Neither link more important then the other
- With "Google"n:http://www.google.com you can Search by Location
Perfect! First link for reference, next link more important
This is now a proud feature of my website. It would be interesting to hear what some web design usability experts have to say about this.