Commentary

Hyperlinks are for Skimmers

  • by , February 14, 2011

What was my experience with technology this week?

If you’ll recall my last post, I ended with a question. Should I take my computer back to the office?

*Update*  The answer is most definitely “no.” I was more productive than usual at work and I can’t afford to backpedal. Even still, having my desktop and laptop both running within a 10ft space feels excessive.

I’ll deal for now.

I’m taking a course this semester that has reserved materials at the library on campus. I visited the library’s website to access the online reserves and was immediately frustrated by the loop the hyperlinks create. If you’re like me when you’re searching for something, if you see hyperlinks on a page, those are the only words you read.

Okay, try this:

Visit www.bsu.edu/library, click on “course reserves,” then “main circulation/reserves.” Where does that lead you? Well, to the option to click on “course reserve” again. And when you click there? You start all over. Frustrating! …until you take the time to read all of the text.

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Midway down that page it says, “If your instructor places items on electronic course reserve, you can access the digitized materials through CardCat by following these instructions.” You must log into CardCat. But anyone flying through the site trying to get to course reserves wouldn’t see that. In fact, “CardCat” is the 8th hyperlink down the page. Do hyperlinks on a page discourage reading the full text? What do you think?

Hyperlinking is supposed to make things easier. What I think the library has failed to do here is consider the user. Most people visiting the “course reserves” page will be students searching for digitized materials—not faculty needing to learn how to upload materials or place hard copies on reserve. Good intentions were failed by poor design.

Also: My sister received her TikTok strap last week and she loves it. My LunaTik strap should arrive this week. Stay tuned for a review!

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