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Why Your Links Should Never Say “Click Here”

Have you ever wanted your users to click a link but didn’t know how to get them to act? When some designers run into this problem, they’re tempted to use the words “Click here” on their links.

Before giving in to the temptation, you should know how using these words on a link can affect how users experience your interface. Not to mention that having proper link titles is a major accessibility requirement since the term ‘click’ is irrelevant to many assistive technologies and isn’t descriptive enough for screen readers.

click here

“Click” Puts Too Much Focus On Mouse Mechanics Link

In my opinion, using the word “click” on your links takes the user’s attention away from the interface and on to their mouse. Users know what a link is and how to use a mouse. Calling attention to the mechanics is unnecessary and diminishes their experience. Instead of focusing them on the interface and its content, “Click here” diverts their attention to themselves and their mouse. Not to mention, you might also make them feel dumb by suggesting that they don’t know what a link is or how to use a mouse.


“View” relates to the user’s task, while “Click” puts focus on mouse mechanics.

Instead of using the word “click,” you might look for a different verb that relates to the user’s task. There’s always a better and more relevant verb to be used. “Click” makes users think of their mouse; but a task-related verb would make them think of the task itself and would keep them engaged with the content and focused on using the interface, not their mouse.

“Here” Conceals What Users Are Clicking Link

Some links use the word “here” instead of “click.” The problem with using “here” in a link is that it conceals what the user is clicking. The text around the link might explain what they’re clicking, but when the user reads the link itself they won’t have a clue. This means that the user has to read the text all around the link to understand the context of the link, thus impeding them from taking the quick and short route of clicking the link directly. If there’s a lot of text, this could slow the user down a lot.

Conceal example
When your link communicates more than “here,” users can skip the verbose text and go right to the link.

Not only that, but if multiple links say “here,” “here” and “here,” the user has to go through the trouble of differentiating between each link, opening each one to see how it’s different. And if the user wants to return to a particular source, they have to remember which “here” it belongs to. This forces them to have to use recall over simple recognition. Instead, it’s better to label the links with something that describes what the user is clicking to, so that distinguishing between the links becomes easier.


Links that are labeled are a lot easier to distinguish.

Using the word “here” to make a link noticeable is unnecessary because that’s what the distinct styling of a link is supposed to do. If you feel like you have to use the word “here” to get users to see the link, then there’s a problem with how your links are styled. Are your links the same color as the rest of the text? If so, users could have a hard time identifying them. Are links visually distinguishable through color and shape? A change in color can give links higher contrast — and a change in shape, such as underlining or bolding, even more so.

What your links say can say a lot about your website. Using the right words is important. Below are a few techniques to help you make the most of links.

Instead of saying “click here,” it’s probably better to make concrete and proper nouns in a sentence the link anchors. Concrete nouns are best in my opinion because they are more immediate and vidid and give users a better idea of what they will get when they click through. Proper nouns are good because they represent unique entities that stand out in and of themselves.

Usually I prefer to avoid using only verbs as anchors because they’re vague and often don’t give a clear picture of what to expect. Rather, nouns enable the user to easily scan the link anchor and quickly grasp what they’re clicking to without having to read the entire sentence or paragraph. An alternative option would be to use verbs and nouns but with this approach some links might become way too lengthy.


Using nouns as anchors gives a better picture of what the user is clicking to.

You might want to try to structure your sentences so that the link anchors fall at the end. This will make links easier to spot because users will see each one as soon as they finish reading the sentence. Thus, they will be able to take action immediately, rather than having to go back and hunt for the link in the middle of the sentence.


Linking at the ends of sentences helps users to act more quickly.

It’s also a good idea to choose the text of your link anchors as specific as possible. For example, if you’re linking to an article or book, it might be a good idea not to use the word “article” or “book” for the anchor. Instead, we could use the relevant title. This will give the user more detailed information about what they’re clicking to and what to expect. Also, we could include more details about the link in brackets, e.g. (PDF, 5.5 Mb).

The next time you consider using the words “click” or “here” for links, remember the effect it will have on the experience. The challenge is to make your links communicate “click here” without actually saying “click here,” and there are many ways to do this. It will take some thought and effort on your part, but in the end, users will benefit with a better experience. So, either take the easy way out and just say “click here” or spend some time finding phrasing that really clicks with users. The choice is yours.

So how do you choose the words for your links? Do you link verbs, nouns or both? Do you use “click here”? Share your opinion in the comments! We are looking forward to your feedback!

(al)

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Founder of UX Movement, an online magazine for learning user experience design. Creator of Wireframe Patterns, a pro wireframing toolkit & Flow Patterns, a toolkit for making visual site/user flows

  1. 1

    Matt Berridge

    June 20, 2012 6:34 am

    Can’t argue with any of that really.

    Also, I believe some assistive technologies scan the page and farm all text links to the top of the page. “Click here” is useless out of context.

    Another hate is having linked URLs like this: https://www.smashingmagazine.com instead of just linking from the words “Smashing Magazine”

    20
    • 2

      Niels Matthijs

      June 20, 2012 6:41 am

      I think that’s actually the best reason for not using generic labels.

      As for user experience, you’re pretty much right on all accounts, but even then it never bothered me as a user. I think the actual user experience impact may be very slight, if anybody notices it at all.

      0
    • 3

      I totally don’t mind links like that (Full URLs), but with the uptake of URL shorteners, I’m never gonna win that fight…

      2
    • 4

      Robert Fransgaard

      June 22, 2012 12:52 am

      Well yes you can argue with some of this in the sense that words like “Click” in my experience increases conversion rate. See my full comment further down.

      4
  2. 5

    Michael Wright

    June 20, 2012 6:37 am

    I’m rather disappointed that you haven’t touched on anything related to accessibility. For example using ‘here’, ‘click here’, or other inane trollop will definitely not make your site fun for people to use when using a screen reader.

    One thing I will say is that there’s no *best* way to do linking, the thing to do is to make sure that your link text is sensible and not stupidly long but also to ensure that you have a suitably descriptive title attribute as well.

    In your download example, I’d make the link text ‘Download Scamworld on the Kindle Store’.

    Also the Twitter one should surely have ‘follow me on Twitter’ as the link … but then again, there’s many many ways to skin a cat.

    6
    • 6

      Do you know how to read? It’s right in the first paragraph!
      “Not to mention that having proper link titles is a major accessibility requirement since the term ‘click’ is irrelevant to many assistive technologies and isn’t descriptive enough for screen readers.”

      -6
  3. 7

    I think “click here” and “read more” etc. are so baked into the world of the web that it’s second nature to use those phrases. Or at least they are to me. And I can’t be the only one.

    Your idea of linking using nouns, and the example in particular, doesn’t sit comfortably with me. If the link wasn’t highlighted (bad practice but a lot of sites do it) then I would not know where to click.

    If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

    10
    • 8

      If the site highlighted their links then you wouldn’t have that problem :)

      2
    • 9

      I think you’re right that ‘Click Here’ and ‘Read More’ are sort of “baked in” to our understanding of the web, so I think the “could make your users feel dumb” argument in the beginning of the article is pretty flimsy.

      Also, have to agree that linking to nouns alone is a little bizarre and doesn’t sit quite right with me either. I prefer to do the verb + noun combo. That way my readers know what action they’re taking,g and the result they’re going to achieve by taking that action.

      9
  4. 10

    This is actually an accessibility requirement, the term ‘click’ is irrelevant to many assistive technologies and for screen readers isn’t descriptive enough. Fortunately, more recently these methods have been adopted as ux best practice (but no mention of accessibility in your article? Tut tut) ;)

    2
    • 11

      Vitaly Friedman

      June 20, 2012 7:16 am

      Thanks Anthony. We changed the article so it makes this point as well.

      3
  5. 12

    Completely agree. Sometimes websites do the every-word-is-a-different-link thing as a joke to emphasise something repetitive but it’s almost always just frustrating. The putting the link at the end is a very vaild point too. Links to documents commonly fall under the “here” trap. Sometimes I’d prefer if the whole sentence were a hyperlink.

    Not completely related but it’s similar to making buttons say what they really do. “Submit” sounds really odd in many cases and yet you see it almost everywhere.

    -1
  6. 13

    Mark Goddard

    June 20, 2012 6:43 am

    Plus there’s accessibility. JAWS users for example get a list of hyperlinks so they can quickly scan a website and find their links fast. If they all say “click here” they have no possible way of knowing what that actual link is for.

    0
  7. 14

    Jason Occhipinti

    June 20, 2012 6:51 am

    Excellent quick article – I can’t even tell you how many times I have explained the first two points to users, developers, and copywriters alike. The final point, involving linking at the end of bodies of text makes perfect sense. I agree with he previous comment by Niels though…I think this may be one of those things where it will definitely help the user, but the impact is so small, that it’s difficult to quantify. It all adds up though I suppose….

    0
  8. 15

    n00neimp0rtant

    June 20, 2012 7:11 am

    I agree on everything except for the “Link on Nouns” section. This is something I especially hate. Wikipedia has trained me to the mindset that “clicking on a link labeled with a noun will take me to general info about that noun,” just like when you click on a non-external link on any Wikipedia article. When an article does exactly what you did with the “correct” example (“noun did verb” instead of “noun did verb“), I tend to just go to Google and search “noun verb” for info on the described event because I automatically assume the link is going to a page about who or what the noun is. Occasionally, I’ll mouse over it and look at the tooltip or status bar text (or, if on my iPhone, I’ll press-and-hold on the link) to make sure it’s not going to a “general info about noun” page.

    tl;dr I agree with almost everything, but from personal experience feel completely opposite about the “Link to Nouns” section.

    5
    • 16

      I agree with you! Why not link right to the action (instead of to the “static” noun)? Linking to the action seems a much better idea. :)

      1
    • 17

      Linking to a noun + verb is normally ideal as a call to action, but not in the example I used. Embedded links in paragraphs are used to give users more context and details about the subject, they are not necessarily call to actions. Therefore, linking to just the nouns to provide extra context in that paragraph is enough. Most users won’t need the extra context if they know what you’re talking about already. But it’s still there for users who do need it. And it’s good for SEO purposes.

      Linking to both the noun + verb in that example would also make each link very long. It would make the entire bottom half of the paragraph look like one giant link. Without enough text in between the links to serve as breaking points, it makes each link hard to distinguish.

      0
      • 18

        Then how about this for example:

        Would you like to see Justin Bieber dance, Madonna get down or Rihanna shake?

        If those three had links, they would be on “dance”, “get down” and “shake”? I’d include the noun, because that’s the part that makes the difference.

        The verb would be included as well, obviously.

        0
    • 19

      Paul d'Aoust

      June 25, 2012 7:25 am

      You know, I was about to make that very point: I would expect the ‘Prince Harry’ link to take me to his website or a Wikipedia article about him, not an article about his tragic imaginary death as thr author intended. I think the situation should dictate whether/where a verb should be used.

      For example, a strong call-to-action needs a strong verb: “Book now!” Is at once unambiguous (to both sighted and blind users) and psychologically motivating, whereas “Booking form” is informative but insipid.

      Going back to the Prince Harry example, I think it would be much better to link the entire clause “Prince Harry dies during surgery”. It’s much clearer to the end user that this is an article about the beloved prince and his unfortunate passing.

      By the way, I also love your suggestion about mentioning the content type and size of non-HTML files; it’s a courtesy that readers will appreciate. A client requested it for a website I was building, and I’ve used it ever since.

      1
    • 20

      Paul d'Aoust

      June 25, 2012 7:27 am

      You know, I was about to make that very point: I would expect the ‘Prince Harry’ link to take me to his website or a Wikipedia article about him, not an article about his tragic imaginary death as thr author intended. I think the situation should dictate whether/where a verb should be used.

      For example, a strong call-to-action needs a strong verb: “Book now!” Is at once unambiguous (to both sighted and blind users) and psychologically motivating, whereas “Booking form” is informative but insipid.

      Going back to the Prince Harry example, I think it would be much better to link the entire clause “Prince Harry dies during surgery”. It’s much clearer to the end user that this is an article about the beloved prince and his unfortunate passing.

      By the way, I also love the author’s suggestion about mentioning the content type and size of non-HTML files; it’s a courtesy that readers will appreciate. A client requested it for a website I was building, and I’ve used it ever since.

      0
  9. 21

    Good article but I must say that I disagree on linking to nouns. In my experience and research, users don’t think that way. They don’t know what they’d get when they click on “Falling Bear” instead of “gets run over”. They could get Falling Bear’s bio, his Facebook page, anything. But the link “gets run over” is very, very clear. They expect to see an article or video of him getting run over… the specific action they want to know more about.

    I can certainly see how linking to nouns is better for those scanning a page, since the topic stands out, but once they get there, I don’t find the link itself compelling enough to click… at least not as much as “gets run over”. That being said, linking to nouns is also helpful to one’s SEO.

    Tough call…

    1
  10. 22

    craig sullivan

    June 20, 2012 7:31 am

    Note that this doesn’t always apply, especially in the case of two part calls to action designs (button, hyperlink or sometimes mixed)

    For example, let’s say we say “You can book your appointment in as little as two minutes…” and then we have a large call to action button. What do you think the top wordings were, when we tested this type of ‘Headline’ and ‘Button’ combination? (see http://www.autoglass.co.uk or http://www.carglass.de for examples).

    Well we tried many combinations of words in different languages (we’ve tested in 20 odd countries) and found that ‘Click here’ ‘Get started’ and ‘Fix my glass’ are usually in the top 3 or 4 performers.

    And we’re not the only people to have tested this – Lovehoney and Nectar both ran large tests of calls to action (rather than hyperlinks) featuring click here. They rocked. Matt @ Lovehoney also reports that ‘Click here now’ performed best in later tests he ran.

    So – your advice is good here but will be misinterpreted by some to say ‘Don’t use click here’. With over 28 million tests run on pages, I can tell you that this is a myth, when applied to some scenarios.

    4
  11. 23

    Thomas Petersen

    June 20, 2012 7:50 am

    You couldn’t be more wrong.

    I have done enough banners and CTA with measurement to know that two things work.

    Arrows and Click Here.

    In fact if you don’t use them you will most likely see a decrease in click throughs.

    -1
  12. 24

    I love almost everything about this article, and was considering sending it to some of my more stubborn clients (there are a few that refuse to believe that “click here” is horrible), but the part about the nouns vs verbs is a bit off.

    Noun + Verb is the way to go in most cases if you’re linking to another page about that noun doing that verb. When you highlight only the noun, I expect to be taken to an article about that noun in general– especially if those links were all taken out of their context. So either way, highlighting only the noun, or only the verb can be misleading.

    1
  13. 25

    George Pytlik

    June 20, 2012 8:08 am

    Thomas is right that “click here” ALWAYS tests stronger than other (even “better”) approaches.

    As a designer, I agree with many of the things in this article (except linking to nouns is a bad idea unless you’re linking to a bio page). I love creating beautiful, elegant websites. But my clients are paying me to improve results. At the end of the day, all they really care about is the number of clicks they get and the conversion of their website visitors to customers.

    When you run A/B tests on “Click Here” versus other approaches, there’s not even a contest. The old, cliche-riddled approach always wins. So we stick to these things because they work.

    Even so, I love articles like this because we need to keep thinking and talking about how things could be done better. It’s never a perfect world. We always compromise to some degree. Awareness of issues like this can help us inform clients and make smarter decisions when we have to compromise.

    4
    • 26

      I agree on the idea that ‘Click Here’ is old and terrible, but unfortunately not everyone is as internet savvy as we want them to be – thus being so literal still benefits in the end.

      I think the usage of words should be decided upon based on the demographic that will be using the site. Usually, even if you argue a great case, the client will still want ‘Click here’. I doubt it will ever go away.

      Great article and definitely food for thought on my next web project.

      1
    • 27

      When you run a/b tests with “click here” vs a bad call to action, it’s not surprising that “click here” wins. Most of the “click here” a/b tests published on the web don’t really use a good call to action to compete with “click here”.

      More clicks does not equal better conversion. A good question to ask is: “click here” may get more clicks, but does it actually convert better? For example, if I have a link asking people to follow me on twitter, does the “click here” link give me more followers, or does the link with my twitter handle get me more followers? In the end, clicks don’t matter, it’s conversion.

      4
  14. 28

    Jaemi Kehoe

    June 20, 2012 9:13 am

    I couldn’t agree more. I cannot tell you how many “click here” links I come across in my work with e-mail newsletters, and it drives me mad. Sadly, it’s not my job to edit them.

    0
  15. 29

    Mark Hedley

    June 20, 2012 9:37 am

    Interestingly I see no mention of the SEO benefits in phrasing links correctly

    4
  16. 30

    This article is focused on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) rather than UX.

    -4
  17. 31

    Excellent.

    Many a times have I wondered whats the best copy to put under ones links. With these simple ‘rule of thumbs’ I can easily get myself out of trouble.

    Personally I’m a sucker for full urls. I like to be able to see exactly where I’m going without actually having to hover over a link, but granted this is rather ugly. I guess thats why I program more than design.

    0
  18. 32

    For the most part, I fully agree. I’ve always made links obvious, with the feeling that the visitor may be insulted and feel belittled in the insinuation that the visitor can’t detect what is a link and what is not. (Also, as some have argued, one might consider accessibility for screen readers for blind visitors. Where’s “here”?)

    However, a specific client’s needs and wishes may dictate otherwise. I have a client who ==>demandsdemands<== a note at the top of each page in his site. The note describes how each item in blue is a "link" which represents an item which may be selected to access an item elsewhere, outside the current page. Different strokes.

    0
    • 33

      Unable to edit the above comment on my iPad – I intended to say, the client *demands* use of “Click here” structures, and *demands* to see the described note on each page of the site.

      0
  19. 34

    Paul Wallas

    June 21, 2012 4:20 am

    Links at the beginning or end of a sentence are notoriously bad for those with dyslexia so this is something I would not recommend, esp from a accessibility point of view.

    1
    • 35

      Tim FItzGerald

      December 1, 2014 10:50 pm

      Interesting point. For something “notorious” I’ve never heard it said before. Do you have any research you can refer us to on this?

      1
  20. 36

    Paul Wallas

    June 21, 2012 4:21 am

    RE My previous post I meant to type dyslexia, not epilepsy.

    1

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