July 13th, 2010
Recently I’ve been tasked with creating tons of graphics, ads, and sites that need to read “Click here to…” just about everywhere. This really got me thinking on how inane that text really is, and how much I’d like to see it eradicated from the web. My reasons are…
We Know to Click
It’s a mouse. I get it. Move. Click. Move. Click. Move… click. That’s how it works. A call to action is great, but I know the action itself is a click. A simple “Learn More” is the same as “Click to Learn More.” I’d argue that “click to” can be compared to the “you” in an imperative sentence in English – we know it’s supposed to be there, so don’t bother writing it. Or actually, maybe we should add that back into the web, so that everything reads “You, Click Here to…”. Now THAT’S an idea!
Or at Lease We Should Know to Click
Often, when the words “click to” are required, it’s because the design isn’t intuitive. This means that the real fix lies in the designer’s hands, and that the underlying design issues should be addressed before adding “click to” everywhere. Slapping “click to” on a confusing design is like going nuts with the nail gun on a falling structure. It’s going to eventually fail unless you fix the foundation, so don’t just use the easy, quick fix.
Confusing Search Engines
Is this a website about your revolutionary new product, or about clicking? When two dozen links all contain the words “click to” these words will rank high to a search engine spider. By writing better copy that incorporates key words related to your product, service, or business, these words will rank high. Would you rather be represented on the web as “click to” or “quality solutions, low price, local business”?
Call for Action without Calling for Clicking
Avoiding “click to” text advances the overall effect of a page the same way that eliminating “be” verbs from an essay does. Granted, we all use tons of “be” verbs in our normal speech and writing, but I can honestly say, as someone who once managed to write a 20 page paper without “is,has,was,will…”, eliminating them greatly improves your writing. The same is true for web copy. Sure, “Click to Learn About Our Program” works, but “What Do We Do?” better captures the user’s interest while saving some screen real-estate. What this boils down to is that there is always a more cleverly worded, more concise, more engaging alternative to “Click to” text, so write it!