“Click Here,” MS Outlook, Seriously?

“Click here” is at best a hint for folks who are befuddled by text that is blue and underlined. It is needlessly redundant. When you are tempted to use it, revise your language, and we’ll all be better off. Microsoft has carelessly provided us this example.

How is it that such poor wording made it into such a major product, here in late 2015?

Basic web writing practices identified the “click here” language as a poor option well over a decade ago. What makes “click here” a bad choice?

One reason is that you end up with a lot of links on a page that all say the same thing (click here), and a common feature in assistive technology like screen readers for blind or visually impaired people is to pull all link text out of page context to give those users a quick way to scan all the links. If they all say “click here,” then a user will have no idea which link to choose.

A second reason is that the link text is highlighted, usually in blue and underlined, and so ought to be meaningful. “Click here” is not meaningful, but the subject or goal of the link sure is.

Here are pretty easy ways to change the language in Outlook.

Instead of “To re-enable to blocked features, click here,” try this:
Re-enable the blocked features.

Instead of “To always show content from this sender, click here,” try this:
Always show content from this sender.

 

Legal action on accessible web sites in USA

Here’s the press release from the New York State Attorney General’s Office: SPITZER AGREEMENT TO MAKE WEB SITES ACCESSIBLE TO THE BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED.

As far as I know, this is the first major legal case in the U.S. where .com web sites are made to provide accessible web sites. The sites are Ramada.com and Priceline.com.

Props to Capital Area District Library on their web site

Was just looking up something on the CADL site for my wife, and, as is my habit, I took a quick peek at the HTML code (View -> View Source in Safari). I was pleased to see first that it appears to be valid XHTML 1.0, and quickly noted some nice uses of accesskey attributes in the a elements. Very humane coding. Nice.

Specifically, I noted this pattern repeated for nav links:

<a href="/databases/"
title="Research Tools and Databases. AccessKey: d"
accesskey="d">
Research Tools
</a>

The title attribute will inform users of which accesskey is set for which link.

To see how this works, hold your mouse over the following link.
Capital Area District Library
Then, if you are on a Mac, hold down the CTRL key and that key on your keyboard. If you are using Safari, that should just load up that URL for you.

If you are on a Windows machine, you might need to press ALT or some other key. I’m not sure. Try something. May the force be with you.

The reason we care is that we are always open to ways of making our web sites more accessible for people with disabilities, and the accesskey can be quite helpful for people who may not be in a position to use a mouse. I imagine that some assistive technologies make use of the attribute as well.

If anyone out there knows more of the nitty-gritty detail of how the accesskey attribute is practically applied, I’m interested.