anti-Alertbox: Jakob says ‘Anchor links are evil’. Discuss.

Jakob says:

On the Web, users have a clear mental model for a hypertext link: it should bring up a new page. Within-page links violate this model and thus cause confusion.

What is wrong with this assertion?

Anchor links have conventions and mental models that are independent of other types of hyperlinks.

There’s nothing new about anchor links. They’ve been around almost as long as hyperlinks themselves.As Jeff Chausse points out in his recent post , anchor links have been around longer than image tags (since at least 1992). In the hotch potch that has been web design over the years, anchor links are probably one of the interaction design elements that have been applied with most consistency over the years. There are strong conventions around the use of anchor links. The mental models is pretty darn simple too.

Not only that, but these days, clicking a link can do so many things – anchor links and bringing up new pages are just a few of them (think RIA design… now, some of those uses violate mental models!)

My opinion: provided you use anchor links where appropriate (being where pages are necessarily long and broken into easily identifiable sections) and providing you utilise appropriate conventions for anchor links in the page (including ‘back to top’ buttons), then anchor links can enhance the usability of your website. (The obvious disclaimer being that you should, where possible, minimise the length of your pages).

So. Where do you stand? Are you with Jakob or against him on this one?

blogbeat – what a difference a little usability (and design) could make.

after the great review that BlogBeat received on TechCrunch and given my current addiction to stats (yes, I’m sure it will wear off sooner or later… although Stowe Boyd’s ongoing obsession with his Technorati ranking gives me some concern that things may go from bad to certifiable)… I decided to sign up for a free 30 day trial and see how cool it is. Afterall, there’s a few things that a specialised blog stats package could tell me that I’m not really getting from Analytics, without having to engage the left side of my brain (which I like to do as infrequently as possible).

So, to signing up. Looks simple, then you get started.

BlogBeat signup

a few things:

  1. can someone tell me *why* I have to have six or more characters in my username? its very annoying for people like me who like to have usernames with 5 or 4 characters. Is this an arbitrary number? Do techie people like it for techie reasons? Is it a security thing? Someone enlighten me. At the moment, its just an annoying thing.
  2. RSS or ATOM Url: what? I’m supposed to know that? Off by heart? Admittedly, it didn’t take long to find/work out… perhaps you could put a bit of help in there for those of us who have only been blogging for a month? (or less). We like statistics too, you know. In fact… we might even be your target audience.
  3. Time Zone – I was loving this because I don’t think that Google knows that I’m in Sydney, Australia and not in Mountain View (maybe it does… I can’t tell). So I enthusiastically scanned the dropdown to find the right one for me. Now… call me a doofus but I don’t know how many hours ahead or behind of GMT I am. I did a Google Search. Turns out, I’m GMT + 11hrs at the moment (daylight savings). Return to dropdown. Not an option. They have GMT +12hrs, but that would put me in New Zealand… which is nice for a holiday, but not forever (heh. settle down Kiwis!). Um. Why? I want a Sydney timezone option. And I’m a little miffed that it’s not there right now. What kind of a decision was that?

I haven’t even gotten to putting the code in my blog yet, so I don’t have much of a review for you, except for one screen…

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Googlecloud review (has anyone done usability testing on tag clouds yet?)

So, today I checked out Googlecloud which I saw via Ajaxian and which was released by the crew at Trade This. (phew! that’s my linking karma for the day!)

My first impression was not great. This was what I saw:

It got me thinking back to the Go Flock Yourself post in my daily links from yesterday regarding the evils (or really, the lack of usability) of tag clouds. I’m not concerned with purity of the representation in terms of font size, but in this case, the links that I’m actually interested in are going to be so small as to be virtually invisible… and I don’t even know if they’re there. This zeitgeist, who favour Britney Spears just over Linux Desktop, isn’t really much use to me.

But then…
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