Don’t Bother Clicking Here

Don't Click HereIt’s surprising to still encounter copy decks and digital marketing briefs of varying scope employing the infamous phrase: Click here to dada dada dada…do something or other.

Back during the Web 1.0 and 2.0 era, a Web site’s interactivity was largely one-dimensional from the user’s point of view and may have warranted such oversimplification. Proponents of this now antiquated digital rhetoric argued Click here was the most direct and explicit call-to-action at your disposal.
As Brian Clark proclaimed in his much commented 2007 post, “it’s a no brainer”; [presumably as a way to denote] “actionable anchor text for links when I really want someone to click”.

Times have certainly changed. While this thinking may have worked as late as 2007, in 2011 audiences have become much more sophisticated with regard to hyperlinks and digital design conventions.

Simply instructing someone to Click here could be now be regarded as a form of visual-information clutter. Treating people like luddites only undermines a digital application’s experience and potential for user engagement.

If we can think of hyperlinks, for example, appearing in the form of buttons, text links, iconography and so forth, as one of the basic core elements of how the Web generally works—something everyone inuitively understands—the use of Click here becomes a completely redundant usability cue. Click here is unquestionably redundant because we already know this action is possible. Rather, what users really need is relevant contextual information about the hyperlink in question: “Tell me, what’s at the other end of this link?”

It goes without saying, we now live in an era of ubiquitous Internet enabled devices. Increasingly this means audiences now interact with digital applications via touch, gesture, accelerometer/gyro, and voice enabled interfaces rather than traditional desktop computer and mouse. As tablet and smart phone platforms gain popularity it would seem rather odd, in the storied tradition of the device-dependent-implying click here, to instruct people to Touch here or Tap your fingers here or there to perform some action. So why then do we continue telling people to click things?

Let’s be more descriptive and meaningful with hyperlinks and actionable content by NOT making the crude assumption everyone is still using a mouse.

When retinal tracking devices eventually supersede conventional mouse and touch screen inputs I wonder if will it be common to see user interface conventions telling us to Look here or Stare This Way for 3-seconds to invoke some action or do something. I really hope we can do better.

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