Conversion Practices And Usability

March 15, 2006

Recently, I had a Design vs. Marketing debate with my design firm for some customers. The designer-debater made some really good points. But I was delighted to be at the UIE seminar in DC and see lots of my debating thoughts validated. Here are three:

1) Although designers often say, “Don’t write long text, people don’t read it,” the usability guys validated my thought that long text is just fine if it matters to the visitor. Long pages, they pointed out in DC, tend to have more scent.

2) I couldn’t get Christine Perfetti, who spoke for half the day in Washington, to agree that blue underlined links work better than other kinds of signals that a link is clickable. “Test it,” she said. But when Jarad Spool got up to speak, he said, “Hey, a Swiss astrophysicist [Tim Berners-Lee, who really did create the Internet] chose blue underlined links, and now we’ve all been conditioned to click when we see a blue underlined link.”

3) And my favorite: I always want to hyperlink lots of different words on one page to the exact same page. Designers say to me, “Why? You’ve already linked to that page twice. It just breaks up the flow of the copy.” But the usability guys said something like, “Users just want to get their job done. If they get to the correct page using one link instead of another, they don’t care. They don’t even notice that there were five other links on the homepage taking them to the same category page.” In fact, Spool & Co. suggested that multiple links using different words work in the websites favor, because they increase the chances that a particular visitor will see the words he is looking for in a link – and click.