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HomeGuidelines > Resources > Heuristic Online Text (HOT) Evaluations > 3. Links



HOT Evaluation: Links (HTML)

Hot Evaluation: Links (Word)

Hot Evaluation: Links (PDF)

3. Links

Q: What's a Heuristic Online Text Evaluation?

A. An evaluation measures how well your text online meets the guidelines, or heuristics, we have compiled from research in usability, readability, attention, and design, and from experienced professionals in the field.

Q: What's the point of using an evaluation instrument?

A: You can determine the extent to which the text of your links achieves the accuracy, predictability, and usefulness needed for effective online presentation.

Q: Why evalute the text of links?

A: If people can scan through your page for key points, they may decide to stay, and read more. 

Q: How do we achieve scannability?

A: We have four main ways to test for scannability.  We know that someone can skim your text quickly and efficiently if:

  • The linktext makes clear what I will get if I click and go.

  • In a sentence, the linktext appears at the end.

  • The text focuses on the subject, not the links.

  • The pages offer plentiful links to related information on the site.

  • The site establishes credibility by offering outbound links.

  • The target page indicates where I am in the overall structure.

  • The page offers meta information.

  • The URLs make sense to a human.

  • The links are accessible for folks with special needs.

  • The site describes any downloadable object ahead of time, so I can make an informed decision whether to download or not.

  • The site announces the new and identifies what has changed.

  • The pages contain content and meta information that increase the likelihood that the page will show up as relevant, in searches.

Q: Why do you call these checklists a heuristic?

A: Each guideline provides a method for a writer to follow, or a heuristic. If the writer has followed the guidelines well, the text scores high.

Q: How do we perform the evaluation?

A: Here’s how to perform a Heuristic Online Text (HOT) evaluation.

1. Download and save the file with a name that includes

  • The site you are analyzing

  • The aspect you are evaluating (brevity, in this case)

  • Initials

  • A period

  • A suffix indicating the file type (doc for Word files, htm for HTML files)

Examples: ibmbrevityjp.doc, yahoobrevityds.htm

2. Go to the site, and locate a fairly typical page that has several paragraphs of running text.

Running text is actual content, not labels, menu items, or link descriptions.

3. In the file, type the subject of the page, under Sample #1, below.

The subject appears in the title bar of the window (not including ads for your browser) or in the major heading at the top of the page. Use whichever best articulates what the page is about.

4. Copy the paragraph and paste it into this file after the subject.

5. Return to the page and copy the URL for that page, then paste that into this file, in the line right after the paragraph.

The URL is the address of the page.

6. Type today’s date on the next line, to show when you collected the sample.

7. Repeat this process, collecting paragraphs from at least 5 pages.

If possible, find pages with different kinds of content. Also, for consistency, pick the same number paragraph on each page; for instance, pick the second paragraph on every page.

Tip: You may want to print out your samples, so you can look at their text on paper as you work onscreen.

8. Apply the HOT Evaluation to the text samples you have collected, filling out the evaluation form.

If a strategy or tactic seems irrelevant, omit it from your evaluation.  Note that this will change the total possible points.

Guidelines on hot links

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 lnks 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.

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

3j. Announce the new with special links.

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


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