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30 July 2008


I was listening to the Bob & Tom show on the way to work this morning (don't judge me - it's a family show since they got in trouble for being so vulgar).


They were talking about OCD for some reason today (that's Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder for those who don't know). But that isn't the funny part. Later in the show they read an email or letter from a listener who had this to say about OCD:

I refer to it as CDO. It makes more sense to me this way because at least all the letters are in order...
I worked in the mental health field for years as a therapist (LCSW) so if anyone gets to laugh at that joke it's me.

We laugh because it's funny. But that does NOT mean we actually change it from OCD to CDO. First, that's not the way acronyms work. And second, if you started using CDO to refer to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder no one would understand you!

When it comes to our web strategy we need to recognize this. There's a fine line between doing something because it's funny or cool and doing something because it works and people will understand it.

Case In Point: The Hyperlink
There are a million ways to mess with the look and feel of a hyperlink. We can change the colors, make strange hover states, change the look if visited, use images instead of text, underline or not and even force the look of the cursor.

Depending on the variation we can do all sorts of things. We can make them the most prominent thing on the page, we can make them funny or hide them so people really have no idea what's a link and what isn't. But just because we can do this doesn't mean we should.

Our sites can look like works of art, but if people have to search for the links are we really designing good sites?

The fact is, people have a comfort level with web navigation. The eye searches for hyperlinks in a certain way and we expect certain things to happen when we hover over a link.

If we stray too far from this we'll alienate the very people we want coming to our sites...