Monday, 17 March 2014

What's new? Avoid using 'What's new?' as link text

Let's be honest: when was the last time you made a bee-line for the 'What's new?' section of a website?

You might argue that 'What's new?' is a clever tease but if you really want me to click through, you've gotta give me a clue what the new thing is - so I can decide if it's for me or not.

The information scent

If you don't give me a hint, I could end up somewhere I don't want to be.

Design guru Jakob Nielsen described this as information scent. He wrote:

"The most obvious design lesson from information scent is to ensure that links and category descriptions explicitly describe what users will find at the destination."

As vague as a vague thing

Consider this: an organisation's What's new section could house literally anything:
  • 5 new flavours of frozen yoghurt 
  • our apps are now on Android
  • we've removed most of the bad fat from our products
  • we've a new chief executive officer
And you won't know until you get there.

Be explicit

If you've done something important and new, you need to make it properly prominent. It needs a headline and a section in its own right. To make it promote-able, searchable and findable.

Industry commentators like Gerry McGovern say we're trawling websites to get our questions answered and to carry out tasks.

And with a heading like 'What's new?' it's not clear whether anybody's gonna get their questions answered or not.

How new is new?

You also have to ask how new is new? When does something stop being new and become normal?

If people click through to see 'What's new' and find things that aren't new, then they might feel disappointed.

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