Category Archives: Design and Usability

Tracking Packages and Usability

Posted by on May 4, 2006

Thomas Baekdal gets it. I wish others would, too. Why must tracking packages around the world be such a time consuming and frustrating feat?

Give us stats and give us details, but present them in a usable, accessible way. Let us choose the level of detail we want to see. Let us choose if we want to get them from a Web page, RSS feed, email, or whatever. Let us choose if we want to know every stop along the way or just the major events.

Thomas has a post that should be read by FedEx, USPS, Canada Post, and every major player in the game. He offers a usable package tracking solution that is clean, efficient, and easy to read. Add alternative ways to deliver that information and I think we can get our package’s status quickly and get on with our lives.

You can read his thoughts here:
http://www.baekdal.com/articles/Usability/package-tracking-usability/

“Click here” to fail.

Posted by on January 29, 2006

I tell my students that if I see “click here” as link text on any of their work, they will automatically fail my course.

Period.

Why? It is low-information content. You have no idea what the destination of the link it.

People usually don’t stop and read everything word for word right away when they first see a Web page. They scan the page first. Their eye jumps from headings, lists, images, and anchors, looking for clues to see if they want to read the page or move on.

Anchor link text stands out from standard content text (otherwise, how will people know that it is a link?) and therefore, tends to draw the eye of the user to it.

So, assuming that the link text catches their eye and all it says is “click here“, they have to waste time moving their eyes around so they can read the context around the link. This is a lot of extra work, which is an absolute waste of time and energy.

People should be able to easily identify the destination of a link without any extra effort. Do these examples tell you anything about where you will go if you use them?

  • Click here
  • Read more

How about these?

  • Today’s weather forecast
  • Latest Toronto news

The first examples offer no clue to their purpose when they are taken out of context. The second group is far more helpful.

Choosing link text is a bit of an art as well as a science. Take this sentence from a real Web page:
Click here to register for our regular newsletter.

You could reword this to:
Register for our newsletter.