The editor at Scientific American clearly didn’t get the memo that links need to make sense out of context.
“Click here” links cause problems for people using screen readers. Screen readers allow users to navigate the page quickly by only reading out the links. When the screen readers says, “Here”, “Here”, “Here”, and “Here” you’ve no idea where the links will take you.
Though less serious, it’s also a readability issue for sighted readers. You have to go back and scan the text to check where this link will take you.
Are Lloyds Bank customers somewhat dimmer than the rest of the world, we wonder? In the ‘Products Explained’ part of their web site they have a left-hand menu with help text that reads: ‘Use this menu to navigate’.
Here’s the menu in context (click for a larger view):
This is one of those ‘features’ that sometimes appears in a redesign after a usability test. ‘No-one used the left hand menu,’ reports the usability analyst, ‘probably because people’s eyes are drawn to the colours and links in the centre of the page’.
‘I know,’ thinks someone from marketing, ‘Let’s do something to draw people’s attention to the menu’.
The problem is that the more you ‘draw people’s attention’ to parts of the page, the less usable the whole page becomes.
Thanks to John Rieger for telling me about this.
After posting this, @NeilDavidson pointed out that this design pattern has provenance:
I got this email today from a company asking me to complete a survey.
I thought that there was an interesting juxtaposition at the top of the email.
I noticed that my opinion wasn’t just important to them: it was essential.
And then, just below this message, I noticed: “This is a send-only e-mail. Please do not reply to it.”
So my opinion is essential, but only if it’s given in the right format.
I’m not sure when no-reply emails became fashionable, but in my view, using them is the antithesis of being customer centred. What a ‘no-reply’ email address says is: “Our time is much more important than yours. If you want to contact us, you’ll need to wade through our convoluted online form, specifically designed to keep customers like you at arm’s length.”