by anthony on 08/30/10 at 5:20 pm
You can make a list of links difficult to scan if all you’re doing is stacking them on top of each other like cinder blocks. I’ve noticed this difference when I try to scan the headlines at USA Today and LA times. Their links look like they are floating in space. In fact, their links could easily be missed for a paragraph of text because not only are they not using bullets, but they’re also not using a link color that’s different from their text color. That’s the last thing you want when you work hard to publish quality content for your users.
The best way to make a list of links easier to scan is to bullet them. CNN and Yahoo News get it right by consistently bulleting lists of links. The reason bulleting works so well is because when our eyes brush-over a list of headlines the bullets act as an anchor that allows our eyes to move quickly and accurately to the beginning of the next headline and down the list with ease. Without the bullets, it makes it harder to confidently find the beginning of each headline. Bullets can also make a list of links look less overwhelming by giving users a holistic sense of how much information is actually there. It always seems like there’s more information when you don’t use bullets.
This simple technique is easy to do and well worth the benefits. As a news-lover I can honestly say that I use CNN and Yahoo News much more than USA Today and LA Times. Their headlines are easier to scan, and their layout is more to my liking. Design is everything.