I have a pet peeve. It’s a pretty normal pet peeve and I am sure that I share it with many other people.
I hate non-clickable links. Can’t stand them. I think they are annoying and atrocious.
What is a non-clickable link? Well, technically it’s an oxymoron but what I am describing is when you have text on a website that looks like it should lead you to more information, or describes another page or place on the site, but does not in fact link to it. It’s like having an email address displayed with no way to automatically click it and send someone an email, or having a navigation tab that goes nowhere.
An affordance is a quality of an object, or an environment, that allows an individual to perform an action.
What we’re also talking about here are “link affordances“, an affordance being “a quality of an object, or an environment, that allows an individual to perform an action” according to Wikipedia. The design of an object suggests how it should be used.
If you think about it, there are many reasons why non-clickable links are unusable. They are teasers that hint at providing you with information, but they are not providing you with an easy way to access it. They increase work for the user. They suggest a function which they do not perform.
When building a site, true, it may take you a few extra minutes to assure that all links are clickable, but surely that is better than having 100 site visitors attempting to click the link, finding they can’t, seeking information, failing, and then leaving your site dissatisfied.
If you have something that isn’t a link but looks like one, see if you can think of a way to more clearly define all of your links. Are they underlined? Are they all one color? Is there an icon next to them symbolizing their purpose? How can you prevent your users from having to think about whether or not a link can be clicked?
The most common ways of making a link obvious are:
- Underlining the text.
- Having the text change color when you mouse over it.
- Making all links a universal color not used by other elements on the site.
There is a great list of do’s and don’t written by Dr Bob Bailey. If you want a longer list of things that work well as link representations, I recommend you check it out.
And don’t forget to read through our own post about when and how to create usable links and buttons.
Take a look at your site and see if you have anything on there that could be mistaken for a link. Your visitors will thank you for not making them have to think!