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I've see lots of sites with links that will take you to the top of the page, but I've actually needed to use one. I've seen some sites where I can see ~7 of these links on the screen at once, whereas many have none. I can understand the intent, but they don't seem as valuable seeing as its so easy to get to the top of the page yourself. It seems like a waste to have site-specific ways to do something when there's a way that every user of any browser or operating system is already familiar with and skilled at.

question: Are these links useful enough to users to merit their appearance on webpages? If so, what are some general guidelines for their placement, appearance, and how many?

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4 Answers 4

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I have never understood those links since I started using the web (around 97). I have no idea, why clicking that link would be faster than using the 'Home' key. I don't know why it would be easier than clicking on the scrollbar. The worst thing: Since every site is a bit different, you always have to search these links first, before you can use them. Even if that takes just one extra seconds or so, it's simply not worth it.

The only variation that I could maybe understand, would be if the link used "fixed" positioning, so once you know where it is (on a site that you visit regularly), you can already put your mouse pointer there, while you read and scroll the page. But I really don't see, how a "back to top" link provides any convenience, when it scrolls with the page content.

I actually believe, that the link became popular, because it has always been used as an example in many HTML tutorials, as it's an easy way to explain anchors. I'm not sure, if the tutorial authors ever meant, that these links are really a great idea. (When you think about it: Wouldn't it make more sense, if every browser simply showed a "back to top" button e. g. in the status bar - at least for long pages? And if you don't like it, you can turn it off.)

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If the page is long, or very segmented (like an FAQ might be) a back to top link can be a very handy feature and improve the usability of your website. If you're putting them on your page just because you feel like it then just like any extraneous content/features it's just noise.

Always do something with a purpose. Not just because you can. (A common mistake newer developers make is to do something just because they learned about it recently, not because their project actually needed it).

As far as where to put them, where do you think they would be useful? In the case of an FAQ the would be useful next to each question. They should be obvious and consistently positioned.

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IMHO I think they are just noisy, seven of these links are very noisy. When I see those type of links it makes think: "does the web designer of this site thinks at me as an idiot not even able to use a vertical scrollbar?!".

They are like the feedback rectangle box (this last one is the one I HATE most), do they really think I'm gonna waste my time registering to usabityhub just to give them a feedback??!! If you want feedback use simple radio buttons like Google does on its own pages like Google Help pages. I might use my time to give feedback cause it takes me JUST ONE CLICK!

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If you decide to use this feature, I will try to answer your questions:

Placement:

  • if your page has list of contents at the top and if a visitor click some item at the list of contents, i think, it will be useful to add "go to back" link at the end of sub article. i don't know how it can be developed, maybe by using Jquery, you should add dynamically this element after visitor's "link of contents" click.

  • If you page has no any list of contents, i think "go to top" link can be placed at the end of article. It does not make sense to add it many times at the same page after every sub article. it is not natural to jump to the top after every sub article, because every sub articles organized in some logical order. Use simple links to jump to the other sub articles or top of page, if sub articles have no (or can not have) any logical order.

Appearance: i think, it can be some highlighted (use colored rectangle) that has understandable text, for example "top of page" or "scroll to top" or "table of contents".

How many: it does not make sense to show this element, if visitor can see all page without scrolling. It is possible to use, for example, some Jquery plugin to develop this functionality.

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