Use single nouns sparingly longer more descriptive links often work better

Single nouns or short noun phrases can work as labels and as links for general categories and overall topics, but only if your site visitors categorize information as you do, recognize the nouns you use, and give those nouns the same meaning that you do. That's why card sorting and other techniques for understanding how your site visitors would categorize and label your site's information are so critical.

In many ways, the descriptive links that lead to specific information are just like headings. All the points from Chapter 10 apply. In Figure 12-9, from CNN Money, for example, you see a set of links that works as the table of contents to a long article. In this case, the statement links (like statement headings in a table of contents) work very well.

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money fears

MONEY Magazine: We alt worry about money, Problem is, we Vie scared of the wrong thing;. Find out why your biggest money worries may bt misplaced — ami start building an action plan for the events that should reaiiy concern you.

©Each of the links is a statement. They work well because they carry a lot of meaning in a familiar sentence structure.

-You die voung

R*«l dangerr You're disabled and can't work. »» St RESOURCE: Mofrtr 101: Life insurance

The stock market crashes

Real dinger; Decades of tftftdtOCfa returns, »»

% RESOURCE: Fund tcreener

The economy collapses

Real danger: the U.S. juggernaut »tails.

li RESOURCE; E«iwmrc untftsatare

Your job is outsourced

Real danger: You're obsolete. !m ®J RESOURCE; fttofinrfw

The housing bubble pops

Real danger: You're in over your head, tm % RESOURCEi now mudi hou» an you afford?

Your identity is stolen

Real danger; Your credit report is full of errors, »» Çl RESOURCE; Miami Scwntf

Figure 12-9 Think of links as headings. Reread Chapter 10. Statements and questions, as well as action phrases, connect well with web users.

7. Add a short description if people need it - or rewrite the link 317"/>
Figure 12-10 Jared Spool and his colleagues found that links of 7 to 12 words achieved the highest success in getting people to the information they were seeking. (From Designing for the Scent Of Information, published by User Interface Engineering,

Longer links often work even better. Jared Spool and his colleagues found that the optimal length for links is 7 to 12 words. Figure 12-10 shows the pattern they've found between link length and success web users had in finding what they are looking for.

Spool suggests that longer links are more likely to have the words your site visitors have in their minds. Longer links have better scent. (See the discussion of "scent of information" in Chapter 4.)

Longer links are also more likely to be action phrases, statements, or questions, rather than single nouns or noun phrases. They are more likely to be like the headings that people look for and relate to.

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