bunn (bunn) wrote,
bunn
bunn

When links aren't links...

I devised for the Oldies club a system for sending details about dogs to the charity.  It isn't vastly sophisticated, but it asks a bunch of important questions about each dog, logs the result into a database, sends a notification to the relevant person depending on what options were selected, and produces reports which are integrated into the user management system for the website so that only the appropriate people see them.  

I was modestly proud of it, but for some reason there was a lack of keenness from a number of people to use or depend on it, even though it was considerably more reliable than email, not being subject to the whims of spam filtering, and much easier to refer to than notes from a phone conversation.

Recently I discovered why this was.  The interface I created displays the most important bits of info, and allows you to click on the dog's name to see the rest of the details that relate to him.  The link on the name is indicated by the name being blue, bold, underlined, and producing a 'hand' icon on mouseover in the traditional manner.  I didnt' think it needed more explanation than that, though I did stick a line at the top saying 'click dogs name to view'

But no, several people did not realise that a blue, underlined, piece of text that does 'hand on mouseover' was a link.  They never clicked on the name, so did not realise that the form captured every detail they might require.  Nor did they read the top text, they only scanned it, missing my vital note about the name.   These are not stupid people, nor particularly web-unsavvy ones.  They just didn't know about something that I thought was standard.

The lesson here is that default link formatting is no longer obviously interactive to many web users.  I think I should have made it look like a button, or included an extra [view full details] or something.    Interesting. 
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