I Don’t Want to Read More or Click Here

I feel so overwhelmed when I encounter websites that use the phrase “Read more” or “Click here”. The overwhelming feeling comes from realizing how many people need to get rid of this bad habit. It’s the wrong thing to do. This bad practice is so ubiquitous that most people probably concludes that it is OK. But it isn’t!

My latest encounter was on the website for the museum of Copenhagen. The Danish version of the site is the same.

Imagine that you had a list of only the links from a web page. I mean a list of the phrases displayed with a link, not the actual hyperlink. The list on a site that uses “Read more” would be as follows:

  1. Read more
  2. Read more
  3. Read more
  4. Read more

I could continue. It’s meaningless, right? That is what anyone who reads a website with a screen reader encounters. Screen readers are used by people who are blind, have low vision, or have physical disabilities. Assistive technology makes reading a website so much easier. Assistive technology also makes bad practices like “Read more” glaringly obvious. The failure lies with the content producer, not the technology!

When I look at the museum site, I realized that the designer may want to have only two words for the link to the continuation of the article. The words “Read more” are like a graphic element in their appearance. They are under a line used as a graphical element. I enjoy good graphics, but using “Read more” is bad when it leaves a screen reader user stranded with a list of useless information. That list is a quick navigation option in screen readers, but with useless information, the option becomes useless.

Let’s step away from design for a moment and think content. Isn’t “Read more” a content element? You are supposed to be lured into reading more by those two words. Could the content writer add a tiny bit more to improve the value? Like this:

  1. Read more about Education
  2. Read more about our Picture Archive
  3. Read more about meeting the museum around town

You get the parallelism that someone might want, but you also get more information about the link that might be more enticing. This example is the first thing that came to mind. The content writer would look at the complete text, of course, and perhaps write a completely different set of links.

Those who can see the “Read more” text on the page may also be happier to have a longer text. On the museum site, these links are orange and stand out. In the scenario for my first list example, the links may be just as useless for a sighted person skimming the page and noticing the orange. The second list example might provide just enough information to be more enticing.

I did wonder whether the “Read more” text was built into the website templates somehow. To which I would reply – lazy! Not good!

Everything I have written applies to the phrase “Click here”. It is just as galling as “Read more”. I suggest you visit the WebAIM website for an excellent article about the bad practice of using useless link phrases like “Read more” and “Click here”. The Education and Outreach group at W3C have what I think is a great article for understanding how people with disabilities use the web. It can help you avoid lazy paths to web content. Such laziness won’t get me to read more or click here!