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Don't make me think!

Browsing the web should be intuitive. Time spent understanding how navigation works or choosing between similar links is frustrating. Links should look like links. Buttons should look clickable. Avoid using terms that are not widely understood.

Good websites are self-evident and intuitive. When you don't need to process how the navigation works, you can focus on the content and finding the information you want.

When your audience browses your website, you want them to be thinking:

‘Scan, scan, yep this is the right place. Scan, scan, click, scan, this looks good. Click, scan, aha, found it! This is what I'm looking for!’

You don't want:

‘Scan, scan. Is this the right place? Hmm… not sure. Scan, scan, can I click here? Click, scan, Hmm, shall I click here or here? I'll try this link. Click, scan, No, let's go back. Sigh, why is that there? What does that mean? Click, hmm… scan. I'm not sure. I give up. I'll try another website.’

A significant number of users who have a bad usability experience the first time they visit a website will abandon that website and never return. Remember, it's a low trust environment. All those extra milliseconds of thought are frustrating. Make your website intuitive and self-evident. Don't make them think!

Things you can do:

  • Ensure links look like links – underlined and in a different colour to regular text (SiteBuilder does this by default)
  • Consider your terminology – avoid abbreviations, acronyms or words that are not widely understood
  • Don't have two links on your page with different link captions pointing to the same page
  • If in doubt, keep it simple

Related links

Don't Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability by Steve Krug