DonnaM » Blog Archive » 3-clicks to anywhere

3-clicks to anywhere

People often ask me whether they should make sure all of their content is available within 3 clicks (“3 clicks from where” is usually my first question). I can’t remember where this ‘rule’ started (Nielsen?), but common-sense would tell you that it is sensible only on smallish sites.

What if those 3 clicks are into the unknown? A user can become lost in 3 clicks as easily as 5, 7 or more.

What is far more important is to get users following the right path. When they know that they are going in the right direction, they stop counting clicks and start getting engaged with the content.

So how do you get users following the right path? Lots of ways, including:
- understanding your users and why they are using your site
- designing your site so the main tasks are completed easily
- understanding the language of your users and use it for labelling
- helping users understand the context of the information
- if useful, put summary information first, then link deeper to more detail

(these are just my favourites – if I were to write all ways to get users to the right path, I’d be here for days)

Here’s the article that triggered this today. It is a bit thin, but a good reminder:
http://www.thebestpractice.com/INTRACK/in_intrack.html
(found via Croc o’lyle)

6 Responses to “3-clicks to anywhere”

  1. andrew Says:

    You make a great point here, Donna. I have a theory that, given its prevalence on the Web, no matter where you are you are only 5 clicks away from cyber-porn. So, 5 clicks from any page on your (or your client’s) site your user can either be looking at the information they want or something completely, to put it lightly, unexpected. It’s our responsibility as IAs to make sure our users know what they’re getting into when they hit that mouse button.

  2. Eric Scheid Says:

    Two more background info items would be Hick’s Law and the 7+/-2 “rule”

    http://IAwiki.net/HicksLaw
    http://IAwiki.net/StatisticalLaws

  3. Donna Maurer Says:

    Thanks Eric – I forgot about Hicks law. I must do some more reading on it.

    Actually, Hicks & the 7+-2 contradict each other. Hicks implies that more choices is better.

  4. Eric Scheid Says:

    The 7+/-2 rule is a “rule”, that is it is a myth that it’s relevant as a design rule. See the webreview article for more:

    http://webreview.com/2002/01_14/strategists/index01.shtml

  5. High Context Says:

    The Click Path

    Found via Column Two: DonnaM: 3-clicks to anywhere 3-clicks to anywhere People often ask me whether they should make sure

  6. Amanda Says:

    I don’t think Hicks Law says that more choices is better. It says the more choices you have, the longer it will take you to make a decision….