You can stop reading this post. You can just take my word for it — it is never a good idea, and always bad practice, to write copy for the web that includes the words ‘Click Here’, or any similar variation, as a hyperlink.

Still reading? You’re the type who doesn’t want to be told what to do — at least not without some kind of reasoned argument to back it up. I like you.

Besides, you’re saying to yourself, ‘I’m an experienced and seasoned traveler of the web and I see ‘click here’ links everywhere.’ This is true. But if everyone else’s hyperlinks jumped off of a bridge? ‘Click here’ links are a remnant of the early web, a bad habit formed in the days of the World Wide Web when the idea of linked text was a novel one. When you use ‘click here’ you’re assuming that your audience doesn’t understand the convention of links on the web and that you need to explain that they can be clicked. This might have been a resonable assumption in 1997, but not so in 2017.

Let’s take a look at an example:

To listen to the sweet baritone stylings of Rick Astley, and watch the music video for the hit single Never Gonna Give You Up, please click here.

Now fixed:

Listen to the sweet baritone stylings of Rick Astley, and watch the music video for the hit single Never Gonna Give You Up.

This improves our sentence and link in two important ways. First, it makes the sentence shorter and more succinct. Brevity is the soul of web content. Shorter is better on the web because we know from mounds of research that web users have the attention span of sugar addled five-year-olds. And this brings us to the second — and most important — reason that our revised version is better. It does what it says on the tin. Descriptive link text tells the user exactly what they are going to get when they click on it, even if they failed to read or fully comprehend the surrounding copy.

Reason #1: Brevity
Reason #2: Descriptive Accuracy

Hyperlinks are important to the web. Foundational even. To get into the geeky weeds for a moment; HTTP, the four letters at the beginning of every web address, stand for Hypertext Transfer Protocol; and HTML, the structural language of the web, stands for Hypertext Markup Language. Hypertext, or hyperlinks, or more commonly just ‘links’, were and are a huge part of the genius of the web. Without links it’s not even a web! As such, they deserve our reverence and respect.

So respect your links, and respect your users. Looking at our example it might not seem like such a big deal. But multiply by the number of links in your article, on your website, in your email. The extra cognitive effort it takes to figure out what ‘click here’ might actually be connected to might not be huge in the case of this single sentence, but multiply by the number of links you encounter in a day and it adds up.

And, there is another huge reason to avoid them: ‘Click here’ type links are bad for accessibility.

This is the first post in a series of helpful Quick Tips for being better at the interwebs.

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