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10:11 Use Appropriate Text Link Lengths

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10:11 Use Appropriate Text Link Lengths

Relative Importance:

Relative Importance rating of 3 out of 5

Strength of Evidence:

Strength of Evidence rating of 3 out of 5

Document Type: Guideline


Topic:

Links


Guideline:

Make text links long enough to be understood, but short enough to minimize wrapping.


Comments:

A single word text link may not give enough information about the link's destination. A link that is several words may be difficult to read quickly, particularly if it wraps to another line. Generally, it is best if text links do not extend more than one line. However, one study found that when users scan prose text, links of nine to ten words elicit better performance than shorter or longer links. Keep in mind that it is not always possible to control how links will look to all users because browser settings and screen resolutions can vary.


Sources:

  • Card, S.K., Pirolli, P., Van Der Wege, M., Morrison, J., Reeder, R., Schraedley, P. et al. (2001). Information scent as a driver of web behavior graphs: Results of a protocol analysis method for web usability. Proceedings of CHI 2001, 498-505.
  • Chi, E., Pirolli, P., & Pitkow, J. (2000). The scent of a site: A system for analyzing and predicting information scent, usage, and usability of a web site. Proceedings of CHI 2000, 161-168.
  • Evans, M. (1998). Web Design: An Empiricist’s Guide. Unpublished master’s thesis. Seattle: University of Washington. Retrieved May 2003, from http://response.restoration.noaa.gov/webmastr/webdesgn.pdf.
  • Levine, R. (1996). Guide to Web Style. Sun Microsystems.
  • Nielsen, J. & Tahir, M. (2002). Homepage Usability: 50 Sites Deconstructed. Indianapolis, IN: New Riders Publishing.
  • Nielsen, J. (2000). Designing Web Usability. Indianapolis, IN: New Riders.
  • Sawyer, P. & Schroeder, W. (2000). Report 4: Links that give off scent. In Designing Information-Rich Web Sites. Bradford, MA: User Interface Engineering.
  • Spool, J.M., Scanlon, T., Schroeder, W., Snyder, C., & DeAngelo, T. (1997). Web Site Usability: A Designer’s Guide. North Andover, MA: User Interface Engineering.

Poor Example:

Text links should not wrap to a second line. They should be used to highlight a particular word or short phrase in a sentence, not an entire sentence.

10_11_bad_example