I’ve thought of a few ways that links can fail users. By preventing these sorts of things (which admittedly, aren’t all that easy to prevent) we can design better links with the hopes of attaining that place where users never get lost.
The more structured and terse the presentation of information, the more quickly and easily people can scan and comprehend it. Wordy, repetitive links slow users down and “bury” the important words they need to see.
While usability research concentrates on evaluating informational documents and Web sites, significant insights can be gained from performing usability testing on texts designed for pleasure reading, such as hypertext narratives. This article describes the results of such a test. The results demonstrate that the navigation systems required for such texts can significantly interfere with readers ability to derive value or pleasure from the fiction. The results emphasize the importance of hypertext authors providing more linear paths through texts and of simplifying the navigational apparatus required to read them.
A review of the Macintosh CD-ROM versions of The Manhole, the Time Table of History, and the Electronic Whole Earth Catalog with emphasis on their usability and their support of hypertext navigation. Based on the discussion of these hypertexts the following general principles are found to be useful for analyzing hypertext user interfaces: Navigational dimensions and their explicitness, directionality and literalness, landmarks, locational orientation, history lists, and backtrack mechanisms.