by anthony on 08/30/10 at 5:20 pm
A list of headlines stacked on top of each other can look like a big blob of paragraph text. I’ve noticed this when I try to scan the headlines on USA Today and LA times. It’s hard to tell which is a link. Not only that, but they’re also not using a link color that’s different from their text color. These are the biggest mistakes you can make if you want your users to read your content.
The way to make a list of links easy to distinguish 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. This makes it easier for users to scan for the link they want.
If your text is black, you shouldn’t use black for your links otherwise users will have a hard time distinguishing them. Instead, use blue to make your links more visible. If users can see what’s a link a lot easier, there’s a higher chance they’ll click them.
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 and layout are easier to scan. When it comes to information-heavy websites, scannability is everything.