When moving an organization toward good user experience practice, providing a documented—possibly extreme—example of bad practice as an antipattern can help raise awareness of what can go wrong and why we must avoid such bad practice. To effectively communicate a problem that we need to solve to an entire organization, we can write an antipattern in everyday, accessible language. In addition to sharing our understanding of a problem with a client, an antipattern also helps a UX team describe a solution for the problem. An antipattern lets a UX team present a solution in context, which helps people who aren’t UX specialists understand the pitfalls that are associated with a particular practice.
Click Here Antipattern
Consider a common error: the use of the phrase click here as link text. Its antipattern must clearly communicate the problem and how to recognize the problem. You can also provide anecdotal evidence of an existing problem, particularly if you can take it from the organizational context. You can represent the antipattern as follows:
Antipattern name: Click here
Also known as: Navigating in a mysterious way.
Most frequently sighted: On Web pages novice developers have created.
Root causes: The false perception that a user’s model of the world is the same as that of the person responsible for creating a Web page.
Anecdotal evidence: “All you can really say is Click here…”
Background: Links on a Web page need to be clear, both visually and in terms of the language we use for their labels. Common errors include the following:
- Not clearly distinguishing links from the rest of the text on a Web page.
- Using excessively long link text.
- Using the phrase Click here, which relies on users’ contextual understanding of a page to understand what here means.
- Not providing titles for links.
The applicability of the phrase Click here is device dependent. Saying Click here assumes a user has a mouse. Worse still, it tells the user nothing about where the link leads. Users visually scan pages rather than reading them, so, if a link is not clearly visible, they are likely to assume there is no other content available from a page. Even if a link is clearly visible, if the link text does not describe its destination, it forces users to work harder than necessary to understand where the link leads by reading the text around the link.
Symptoms and consequences:
- Users are unable to identify where the links are on a page.
- Users are unable to see where a particular link leads when scanning a page.
Typical causes: Web pages that are created in haste.
Known exceptions: It’s not necessary to underline links that are within navigation elements—such as navigation bars—because clearly communicating their status as links is contextually dependent. However, such links must still have descriptive labels and titles.
Although this is a relatively simple antipattern, it clearly identifies a UX design problem and provides a starting point from which a UX team can develop a solution.