We’ve all become so used to using websites, updating pages and sharing content. But, sometimes, it’s helpful to get a reminder on good and bad practice…
by Susie Crossland
This post was inspired by seeing one too many web content fails on a grey Tuesday in the office. I’m a Website Officer (which makes me sound like some kind of digital law enforcer) for the beast that is dorsetforyou.com. Dorsetforyou is a website for seven councils in one, including Dorset County Council, and six districts and boroughs.
I proof read, and approve our content before it goes online. I also lead on our e-newsletter system and social media across the Dorset councils.
What this means is I read a lot, every day. I notice things, and they seem like obvious things to me. But as they come up again, and again, and again, I figured maybe I could help some people out by sharing some lessons.
Today, I’m on about links, one of the core things which, for me, highlight the magic of the internet.
1. Using links well
This may sound somewhat patronising, but the thing about the internet, is you can link anywhere- any time, any place, that you like!
Something I see on a regular basis is this dreaded phrase:
“Find out more, below” or “scroll down for more information” or “To book, see below”
NO - Add a link! Take your cursor, highlight some text, and link your customers to whatever it is you want them to see/do/book.
Even better, use a call to action button instead. But please, please don’t put a link half way down the page and expect your reader to obediently find it. The magic of the internet means you can take them anywhere you like, then and there.
‘See below’ is also a massive accessibility fail. So just don’t do it!
2. Displaying links well
When a link is added to a page, I despair to see it presented as such:
Book a place on our website:
Nuh uh, take the link, and make it part of the sentence:
Nobody wants to see all that HTTPS stuff, it’s un-necessary. This seems like a basic, but it happens an awful lot. To me it’s the web equivalent of walking out the door with no clothes on, give your link some alt text, spoil it, it will love you for it. And I will not accept the argument of “it’s easier for people to click”, or “they remember it better that way”. These are lies, it’s a waste of valuable space, and it annoys me. I’ve even seen this done by PR consultants.
Of course, if you like to walk out the door with no clothes on- fine, just embed links properly okay?
3. Linking images
I hate to see a missed opportunity. The use of smart phones to devour online content means our forefingers hunt hungrily along an article/e-newsletter.
Something I always advise my colleagues, is to link an accompanying image in an e-newsletter. Whatever you’re promoting, if you’re using an image to enhance your content, link that image up- It’s simple, and effective. You’ll see your click rate improve if you do this.
You can add adverts too, add a nice banner to the base of an e-newsletter, make it pretty and link it up. It’s simply- an image and a link. But it becomes a powerful marketing tool. The use of a button on the image doesn’t go amiss either, make them want to touch it/click it!
I’m also a firm believer in the power of three – so I’ll leave it there for today with my three simple tips for better web pages.
Susie Crossland is Web Officer at DorsetForYou.com
image via the State Library and Archive of Florida