Working on clients’ sites recently, I’ve been thinking about the importance of links.
There are two types of links on the internet, those that connect different websites together, allowing users to discover new and useful sites, and there are links within a site – those that take you to a piece of information on the same website.
The first type, the links between websites, are the links that make the Web what it is today. Without it we’d be back in the library with just a massive collection of books each with their own ‘List of Contents’ or ‘Index’.
Links between pages on the website are trickier to do well. Sure, they can take you from page to page, but there is danger that information could be repeated from one page to another which means that the user needs to work harder, scanning & filtering out duplicate information to find new nuggets of interest. Any hint of repeating information should sound alarm bells. To fix, get your information separated out from all the common pages and link to it from all the pages where it had been duplicated.
With good links, website design and a clean, user-friendly layout, there’s less information to scan and filter so visitors can process more quickly and find out the information or stories they need.
Because the Web is a linking medium, and the links are what ties it together and allows users to go exploring, it’s important not to waste linking opportunities. For instance, don’t force your customers to go hunting, from your homepage, for the product or service you are advertising. Instead, link to it directly, bypassing the Home page. You’ll save your visitors time & frustration, which will benefit your bottom line.