8 dos and don’ts for writing great Web links

Links that say “FAQ,” “Resource” or “Tools” are ineffective, according to this Web usability expert.

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1. Avoid describing the format. Links that state “Video” or “PDF” are rarely useful. Describe the task or benefit of the video or article.

2. Lead with the need. The first three to four words are incredibly important on the Web. If you have a guide on how to install a router, write the link: “Installation Instructions,” and not, “How to install this router.” Otherwise you’ll have lots of links beginning with “How to.”

3. Ditch frequently-asked links. A link is a promise from you to your customer. It is a signpost. You are giving directions. Let’s say you’re a tourist in Ireland and you want to visit Middleton in Cork. You see a sign labeled “Frequently Visited Towns.” Should you follow it?

The Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) link is a very poor one. The FAQ is a classic example of organization-centric thinking. The organization knows which questions are frequently asked, but how can the customer know? It’s much better to use links such as Buy, Install, Troubleshoot, Fees, Specifications, Programs, and Contact.

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