Visit Bartelme Design
and check out his iPhone app. Look like fun? Want more information? I did, so I clicked on the link – and waited a couple minutes while iTunes and the App Store loaded. I was expecting a page devoted to the game inside my browser but was taken somewhere else, and I felt a little misled. Was that fair?
In general we know what's going to happen when we click a link – we'll be taken to another page. If something else is going to happen I'd like to know before I click. The internet is an incredibly trusting place: we trust that when we click a link to a newspaper article that we'll shortly be reading that article. If we click a link to a movie trailer
we expect to be watching that trailer (or, possibly, Rick Astley).
Can we reasonably expect to be told in advance of non-standard link behaviour? I think we should. iTunes doesn't stay open on my machine at work, so clicking an App Store link is...well not tremendously inconvenient, but it slows me down more than I might be expecting.
Much of getting a user to come back is insuring they have a great experience, a life-changing experience...but some of it is having a predictable experience. Meeting the user's expectations. In this case a text link like 'opens in iTunes' would have saved me some time. An icon or badge something like this
would have let me know in advance exactly what I was getting into. It's a small thing but one that's easy to get right.
I'll doubtless be back to Bartelme's site and I may even check out his app when I get home. But this time I'll know what's going to happen.
What do you think? Should designers always tell users what to expect? Or should the guys in the office break out the tiny violins