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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. So, links should look like links. Buttons should look clickable. Avoid using terms that aren't 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 or finding the information you want.

When your audience is browsing your website, you want them be thinking:

“Scan, scan, yep this is the right place, scan, scan, scan, click, scan, scan, scan, yep this looks good, click, scan, scan, scan, click, 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, scan, scan. Hmm, shall I click here or here? I'll try this link. Click, scan, scan. Nope, humph. Back, back, scan, scan, sigh, why is that there? What does that mean? Click, hmm… scan, 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 so make your 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 which aren't widely understood
  • Don't have two links on your page with different link text pointing to the same page
  • If in doubt, keep it simple