The reason that I am asking this question, is that I have recently read a very interesting book about web usablility called Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability by Steve Krug. It might sound a little weird that your visitors shouldnīt be thinking, but itīs more like “everything on your site should be obvious”. They should find everything they are looking for without having to be forced to think.
And when I read Steven Krug`s version, I must admit that I don`t want to think. It`s so easy to just visit a website that I have never visited before, and immediately find everything I am looking for without having to spend a lot of time searching and viewing the site up and down. I agree, sometimes and at least when it comes to the obvious, please don`t make me think. By obvious, I mean things like the menu and navigation, it should look like a menu and it should be a place on your site where most people usually put a menu. Links should be blue or at least it should be obvious where you should click.
… but what about the advertisements on your site?
Should people understand right away where your ads are and where they are not? Should they understand what`s your content and if your ads are somewhere inside your content?
For instance, in this post I have a link to the book Don’t Make Me Think. This is really an affiliate link to Amazon, if you buy the book I get commission. Should I make this obvious to you, or is it ok to leave it as a regular link inside my content?
I usually just put a few words behind a link if I am not an affiliate, this way people understands that I am not trying to sell them anything. But maybe it should be the other way around, and maybe we all should make it obvious that we are affiliates instead of when we are not?
I can see when a person is an affiliate just by looking at the link, and many people can, but most people might not be aware of how you can spot a person who are actually trying to convince you to buy something. Well, sometimes it’s quite obvious, but many times they are not writing a review or writing the typical sales letter, they are just referring to a product and then (like I am doing in this post) it’s a lot harder to know.
What I am trying to say is this; from now on maybe I should put a parenthesis behind every affiliate link like this (I am an affiliate)? This way all my visitors will know for sure when I am trying to promote something and when I am not.
But does it really matter?
I am actually not trying to promote the Don’t Make Me Think book today, I am just using it as a reference to an idea I just got. But at the same time, why not earn a few extra bucks from the idea? Should’t the content speak for it self… and shouldn’t it be easy to understand from what I am writing if you should buy the product or not?