Web Writing That Works!

           A Project of
           The Communication Circle

Guidelines Rants Patterns Poems Services Classes Press Blog Resources About Us Site Map

HomeGuidelines > 3. Cook up hot links. > 3i. Tell people about a media object before they download it.





Audience Fit


Bonus! Hot Text chapter (94K, PDF, 2 minutes at 56K)

3i. Tell people about a media object before they download it.

  • Tell people how large the file is so they can decide whether or not to download it. Identify the typical download time for a common speed, such as 56k. If a file is particularly big, warn people: Large!
  • Identify the file format (wav, tar, whatever), so the users can tell, in advance, whether they have the software to view the file. Use the name of the most common application that a person might use to view or print the file.
  • Offer a link to a utility that can display the file, if an ordinary browser cannot display the contents without supporting software such as Adobe Acrobat Reader, or a Microsoft Office application.



Other ways to make links hot

3a. Make clear what the user will get from the link.

3b. Within a sentence, make the link the emphatic element.

3c. Shift focus from the links or linked-to documents to the subject.

3d. Provide depth and breadth through plentiful links to related information within your site.

3e. Establish credibility by offering outbound links.

3f. Make meta information public.

3g. Write URLs that humans can read.

3h. Make links accessible.

3j. Announce the new with special links.

3k. Write meta-tags to have your pages found.

Resources on writing links

Taking a Position on Links

Heuristic Online Text (HOT) Evaluation for Links









Inform users of the content and size of media objects. … Include the file size, the media type, and a description of the subject matter. … This information will help users determine whether they want to wait for the download. —IBM (1999)

Warn people before long downloads. Attention may wander during delays as brief as 1 second. Delays of more than 10 seconds will almost certainly lead to attention loss. … Provide download and page-load status indicators…. Expectations about content quality, relevance, and action complexity affect willingness to wait for a sequence or page to load. —Microsoft (2000)

See: IBM (1999), Microsoft (2000), Nielsen (1999f), W3C (1999)


Original Links:

Find out more about our business process.

Plutonium recovery.

Revised Links:

Find out more about our business process in our Business Process White Paper. (2.5 MB PDF file, 38 minutes at 56K, requires Acrobat Reader 4.0 or later)

Diagram of the hydride/dehydride process for plutonium recycling. (8 MB PhotoShop image in BMP format, takes 2 hours to download at 56K, requires paint program to display).




Audience Fit
If visitors want... How well does this guideline apply?
To have fun Nothing ruins the fun like being condemned to an eternal download.
To learn Interrupting a lesson for a half-hour download is a sure way to lose your students.
To act Unless your only goal is to get people to download your white paper, warn people up front.  Then they can download later, if necessary, rather than starting the download and then canceling it altogether.
To be aware Show you're aware of their feelings and schedule.
To get close to people Giving this kind of information is a courtesy.

Ready for some challenges?



Home | Guidelines | Rants | Patterns | Poems | Services | Classes | Press | Blog |
Resources | About Us | Site Map

Web Writing that Works!
 © 1999-2004 Jonathan and Lisa Price
The Communication Circle
Discuss at HotText@yahoogroups.com
Email us directly at ThePrices@ThePrices.com
Order Hot Text (the book) from Amazon