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I'm telling users to get something and where they can get it. Should I hyperlink the action or the destination? Which of the following would be easier for the user to parse and execute?

You need to upgrade the app from the Android Market.

Or

You need to upgrade the app from the Android Market.

A third option would be to hyperlink everything. But the more you hyperlink, the less scannable something is. Too much text would be shouting for attention, right?

You need to upgrade the app from the Android Market.

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3  
You forgot: "Click here to upgrade the app from the Android Market." ;-) –  Jørn E. Angeltveit Jun 14 '11 at 7:16
    
Or even "You need to upgrade the app from the Android Market." –  billynomates1 Jun 14 '11 at 14:00
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I thought "here" was always the worst option because "here" is not descriptive. You wouldn't want to draw attention to "here" by making it blue and underlined. –  JoJo Jun 14 '11 at 16:07
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You are correct. "Here" should never be used. cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/www/click.html. I am guessing that Jørn was being sarcastic. –  Matt Rockwell Jun 14 '11 at 19:09
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@Matt: Let there be no doubt: I was definitely being sarcastic. Hence the sarcastic/ironic winking smiley. –  Jørn E. Angeltveit Jun 15 '11 at 1:02
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6 Answers 6

up vote 20 down vote accepted

It's a good idea to think of the link — marked in bold in your post — as the main focus of the sentence. It's what's most important. So if you want the user to focus on the concept of "Android market" that should be the link — if the user should focus on the concept of "upgrading", that should be the link.

A good test for this is capitalizing the words you want to link, which makes it obvious what you want the user to think about.

You need to UPGRADE THE APP from the Android Market.

You need to upgrade the app from the ANDROID MARKET.

It seems to me that the first option is the best.

Of course, I am not suggesting that you capitalize your text on your website — only use this method as a test during dev for you to look at the words and see how you react to the copy. Then, type your link as desired (lower caps, etc).

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Very good way of looking at the problem! Always look at what it is you want to emphasize. –  Lode Jun 14 '11 at 4:28
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+1 It's a call to action. –  James Crook Jun 15 '11 at 20:47
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I think it depends on what you're trying to achieve with your link. I personally don't like option 3, although it makes the clickable area larger. In the case above, you're linking to a certain action, you want the user to upgrade their app at the market. Whereas saying you need to upgrade your app for the app market implies that you're just linking to the app market.

What type of link I prefer, depends on my goals. If I'm looking for a way to do something, I prefer verb links, otherwise, I prefer noun links because I'm looking for something

There is one accessibility concideration too. Some accessibility tools provide quick lists of all the links on a page, so even when linking to a verb, somehow explaining where it links to within the link text can be beneficial;

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The W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines suggest that you should

"provide link text that identifies the purpose of the link without needing additional context".

The motivation behind these standards is not only to properly guide the users but also to provide accessible web pages for people with disabilities. These people often use web page "readers" that may only read the hyperlinks on the page, so link text like "click here" is not helpful and should be avoided.

In your case, I believe, that if your link is simply to the Android market, then only "Android Market" should be linked, however, if you link is to a specific upgrade page, or installer, then the entire "upgrade the app from the Android Market" should be linked.

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The link text should indicate where you're sending the user. If you're sending the user to the front page of the Android Market, then you should put the link on "Android Market". If you're linking to the place in the android market where they can upgrade the app, then you should put the link on "upgrade the app."

When I click on a link, I assume that I've just done whatever I clicked on, and the most I'll have to do is confirm the action. I promptly forget whatever it was I clicked on. If you send me to the front page of the Android Market expecting that "upgrade the app" is enough to remind me why I'm here, I'll have to go back and figure out what just happened.

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Option two is never a good choice. As for option one or three, it depends. In most situations, it is probably best to go with shorter (option one). But there are going to be times where the secondary verb ("the Android Market" in your example) is going to be important information to the user. In those cases, you should make the entire phrase the link (option three). However, even with option three, in your example you don't need to have the words "You need to" part of the hyperlink. Those are truly superfluous words to the user.

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From all the button text research I have read and also that I have experienced in working in advertising, I have found that people understand verbs better. Action oriented text works best.

So I would suggest that you use the first option

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4  
Don't you mean: So I would suggest that you USE the first option. ;-) –  Mongus Pong Jun 14 '11 at 12:23
    
Haha I didn't get the joke at first which made it all the funnier when I did. +1 for making me laugh at 9am. –  jonshariat Jun 14 '11 at 16:06
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