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ACM SIGCHI WWW Human Factors (Open Discussion)


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"ACM SIGCHI WWW Human Factors (Open Discussion)" <[log in to unmask]>
"Ramadoss, Ramanan - TPRXR" <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 3 Mar 1999 07:06:49 -0800
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"Ramadoss, Ramanan - TPRXR" <[log in to unmask]>
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I'm not arguing that underlines are bad, just that I choose to turn them off
for my personal use. In fact, in my previous message, the sentences you
quote are immediately followed by this one:  "However, most other people
prefer underlines, and for the most part, we are all happy setting our
browsers to suit our preferences."

I completely agree with you - most people would prefer underlines for the
reasons you mention, and because underlines have become the most common way
to distinguish hyperlinks.

What I would ask is that designers not make all the decisions about how the
site should look to every user. The web is a unique medium, and while I
sympathize with the designer who feels restricted by factors that are not an
issue in, say, print or television, I think  that user control over some
aspects of the design is on the whole a good thing (a little TM infringement
here). We accept the idea that users use products in unique and
unpredictable ways, and good design accomodates most users. With the web, it
is necessary to accept additionally that users customize products in unique
and unpredictable ways - even if some of these ways are inefficient or ugly.

Users are different! I rather like UNIX man pages, the first good help
system I used was on the Burroughs A series, and I'm still not very fond of
the mouse. Good designers cannot simply ignore such strangeness, though
mediocre ones will.

[log in to unmask]

> ----------
> From:         Dave Cantrell[SMTP:[log in to unmask]]
> Reply To:     [log in to unmask]
> Sent:         Wednesday, March 03, 1999 5:56AM
> To:   [log in to unmask]
> Subject:      Re: Hypertext and Underlines
> >Personally, I don't like underlined hyperlinks, especially when a large
> >number of sites consist of mostly nothing but links to other sites. It's
> way
> >too cluttered and unreadable.
> This just hit me like a bomb (well, more like a firecracker, actually, but
> that's beside the point) -- what about sites that have lots of links close
> together -- say within a sentence -- and have underlining turned off? And
> the link color dark or otherwise not that much different from the text
> color? How do you determine context? How do you know what the link is?
> Example:
> "Welcome to our web site, home of many excellent products that can enhance
> your productivity."
> Then turn on underlining to see:
> "_Welcome_ to _our web site_, _home_ of many _excellent_ _products_ that
> can
> _enhance_ your _productivity_."
> This may be an extreme example, but you get the point. How do you tell, at
> a
> glance, which links span across commas and which don't? What about two
> words
> or links close together, such as "_excellent_ _products_" above? if there
> are no underlines, it would look like one link, but actually be two...
> I'll be honest here guys: I have zero formal training in human factors,
> and
> only know what I have learned online and through books as well as some
> good
> old applied common sense and design insight. I've got a passion for this
> though, which is why I'm here. And to me, this looks like a serious
> problem.
> Personally, I think underlines are a part of the navigation metaphor users
> have, and we shouldn't mess with it. Look at Windows Help -- lots of
> underlines, and users don't have any trouble knowing what to click there
> --
> or do they? I've never seen anyone have trouble with it. I for one don't
> want to mess with what I perceive as a Good Thing(TM).  :)
> Compare Windows Help to UNIX man files -- "clickable" terms are
> highlighted
> in reverse text, white text on black boxes. *This* drove me nuts -- I
> would
> have preferred underlining! How does Mac help handle this issue?
> I do so badly wish both browsers would implement the "A:hover" CSS
> property,
> then I wouldn't worry so much about removing underlines.
> Take care,
> -dave
>  SrA Dave Cantrell
>  Webmaster, Logistics Information Systems   <
> >
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