Distinguishing between Internal and External links

5 Oct 2007 - 2:22pm
6 years ago
7 replies
1369 reads
paigesaez
2007

Hi there,
I am curious to hear peoples' thoughts on the value of distinguishing
between internal links and external links in a large-scale web app.
I am currently working on a project that is being loosely modeled off of
Wikipedia; which does make a visual distinction between their internal and
external links.
In the context of an article on a particular subject this distinction
(between the internal and external links) seems rather appropriate.
Personally, if I am browsing a site and I like what I see I tend to avoid
external links in favor of internal links. I am in favor of visual
notification in some form that this distinction exists...But I have heard
many arguments against this--mostly in the form that it interferes with the
visual design of the site.
This is my first thread post so be gentle with me! ;-)

--
Paige Saez
Interaction Designer

PLANET ARGON, LLC
Design, Development, and Hosting with Ruby on Rails

http://www.planetargon.com/

+1 971 227 4384
+1 877 55 ARGON [toll free]
+1 815 642 4068 [fax]

Comments

5 Oct 2007 - 10:36pm
Jack L. Moffett
2005

Paige,

Distinguishing the difference between internal and external links can
be useful, even important in some cases. If they have differing
behaviors, it makes sense to visually distinguish them. For example,
I've been working on a web application that will be used in connected
and disconnected modes. When disconnected, external links may not
work, whereas internal links are always accessible.

Jack

On Oct 5, 2007, at 3:22 PM, paige saez wrote:

> Hi there,
> I am curious to hear peoples' thoughts on the value of distinguishing
> between internal links and external links in a large-scale web app.
> I am currently working on a project that is being loosely modeled
> off of
> Wikipedia; which does make a visual distinction between their
> internal and
> external links.
> In the context of an article on a particular subject this distinction
> (between the internal and external links) seems rather appropriate.
> Personally, if I am browsing a site and I like what I see I tend to
> avoid
> external links in favor of internal links. I am in favor of visual
> notification in some form that this distinction exists...But I have
> heard
> many arguments against this--mostly in the form that it interferes
> with the
> visual design of the site.
> This is my first thread post so be gentle with me! ;-)
>
> --
> Paige Saez
> Interaction Designer
>
> PLANET ARGON, LLC
> Design, Development, and Hosting with Ruby on Rails
>
> http://www.planetargon.com/
>
> +1 971 227 4384
> +1 877 55 ARGON [toll free]
> +1 815 642 4068 [fax]
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
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Jack L. Moffett
Interaction Designer
inmedius
412.459.0310 x219
http://www.inmedius.com

Form follows function -
that has been misunderstood.
Form and function should be one,
joined in a spiritual union.

- Frank Lloyd Wright

5 Oct 2007 - 11:03pm
jae
2007

Would it be more appropriate to let users informed where the links are
going to lead them to? In users point of view, An informative link
would appear less deceiving, if you failed to saftisfy them with the
information by internal links.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the improved ixda.org
http://beta.ixda.org/discuss?post=21128

5 Oct 2007 - 10:35pm
Matt Nish-Lapidus
2007

Hi Paige,

How similar to Wikipedia do you mean when you say "similar." The Wiki
software is called Media Wiki and is free to use for any purpose, if
you haven't looked at it, it might be a good fit.

To address your original question, if links are an integral part of
the navigation like they are in a wiki then distinguishing between
internal and external links is a great idea. The user needs to know
whether they are navigating to a new page within your site or to
something completely different. In this case your internal links are
a form of direct site navigation, which isn't always the case.

Media Wiki defines these link roles really well..

Matt.

On 10/5/07, paige saez <paige.destroy at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hi there,
> I am curious to hear peoples' thoughts on the value of distinguishing
> between internal links and external links in a large-scale web app.
> I am currently working on a project that is being loosely modeled off of
> Wikipedia; which does make a visual distinction between their internal and
> external links.

6 Oct 2007 - 3:14am
Peter Boersma
2003

Paige,

You ended with:
> But I have heard many arguments against this--mostly in the form that it interferes with the
> visual design of the site.

That's
(1) a very limited view by visual designers (do HTML form elements also interfere with the visual design of the site? Should we lose those as well? How about hyperlinks themselves? etc.) and
(2) an argument that could be fixed by visual designers themselves: you should be able to work with them on a visual design of the distinguishing element itself to reach a satisfactory solution that matches both the functional and visual design.

I'd like to hear the other arguments though. Are they about users and their ability to discern the difference by themselves?

Peter
--
Peter Boersma | Senior Interaction Designer | Info.nl
http://www.peterboersma.com/blog | http://www.info.nl

10 Oct 2007 - 4:42pm
paigesaez
2007

Wow. These are great responses. I have had a hard time concretely
explaining "why" I felt this was important to think about.
While it is important and necessary for me to do research and present
examples/discussions about certain software interaction functions I
think that this approach is somewhat one-sided.
I am looking for a book/blog/rule/something more along the lines of
the behavioral psychology of interacting with digital media.

For example: the external link vs internal link thing. When I tried
to explain "Why" I thought it was important I couldn't very easily
explain this very well in a logical language framework that a
developer/project manager would have an easier time understanding.
(NOT to be taken as a catch-all for developers mis-understanding
things, TO BE TAKEN as a way for me to better explain my ethereal
thoughts)
My arguments lose validity when I start using phrases like "emotion
and feeling lost, unfamiliar, confusion". It is frustrating to get
into an argument about "behavior" in a disagreement with a
developer. How can you explain to someone that even logical things
can have behavioral consequences?

Whew, that was a bit difficult to explain, but I think you get the
idea.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://gamma.ixda.org/discuss?post=21128

10 Oct 2007 - 8:13pm
Oleh Kovalchuke
2006

On Wed, 10 Oct 2007 14:42:28, paiges <paige.destroy at gmail.com> wrote:
>
>
> I am looking for a book/blog/rule/something more along the lines of
> the behavioral psychology of interacting with digital media.
>
> How can you explain to someone that even logical things
> can have behavioral consequences?

By using logical arguments. In the example you gave, you could have referred
to the information scent of the links and to the resulting lack of sense of
control, safety, support for exploration by the user.

Behavioral psychology does not depend on interaction with digital media; the
digital media can, should, and does adjust to the behavior of humans. I
would recommend reading general behavioral psychology books and adjusting
the knowledge of human behavior to the specific problem. I do not have one
book to recommend (I have read about ten, each with strong and weak sides).

Oleh

--
Oleh Kovalchuke
Interaction Design is the Design of Time
http://www.tangospring.com/IxDtopicWhatIsInteractionDesign.htm

10 Oct 2007 - 8:40pm
Oleh Kovalchuke
2006

Come to think of it, any book about interaction design is also about human
behavior. Good books actually extract and spell out the behavior as a set of
axioms. 'About Face', for instance.

Oleh

On 10/10/07, Oleh Kovalchuke <tangospring at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> On Wed, 10 Oct 2007 14:42:28, paiges <paige.destroy at gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> >
> > I am looking for a book/blog/rule/something more along the lines of
> > the behavioral psychology of interacting with digital media.
> >
> > How can you explain to someone that even logical things
> > can have behavioral consequences?
>
>
> By using logical arguments. In the example you gave, you could have
> referred to the information scent of the links and to the resulting lack of
> sense of control, safety, support for exploration by the user.
>
> Behavioral psychology does not depend on interaction with digital media;
> the digital media can, should, and does adjust to the behavior of humans. I
> would recommend reading general behavioral psychology books and adjusting
> the knowledge of human behavior to the specific problem. I do not have one
> book to recommend (I have read about ten, each with strong and weak sides).
>
> Oleh
>
>
>

--
Oleh Kovalchuke
Interaction Design is the Design of Time
http://www.tangospring.com/IxDtopicWhatIsInteractionDesign.htm

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