DonnaM » Blog Archive » Counting clicks

Counting clicks

I wrote an entry last week about the myth of taking no more than 3-clicks to get from the homepage to anywhere in the site.

While doing my content inventory, I have been thinking about this rule, wondering for my current project, whether there would be a good guideline to depth.

I’m still thinking about it, but wanted to tell you something that I have not seen discussed before.

Even if they start at the home page, people have varying perceptions about where they are ‘starting’ the click count from.

When watching people use the Intranet I’m working on, I noticed that they repeatedly would say:

“You click this, then this, then this, then you….”

They would return to the 4th level page (third click) and show me something else. To show me another page, they would do it again. For these people, the first three clicks didn’t matter. Their starting point was the 4th level. The first three clicks were habitual.

So, when I was looking at a page that took 6 clicks to get to (and thinking that was a lot), for the users, it was only a few clicks into the site. They weren’t bothered at all by the depth.

Now, there may be a couple of factors that don’t make this widely applicable. I’m working on an Intranet, and page downloads are fast, so the first 3 clicks take no time. The users also have particular sections of the Intranet that they use more frequently than others.

So, have I reached any conclusion yet?

Yes – learn about your users and design for them rather than following anyone else’s foolish rules…

2 Responses to “Counting clicks”

  1. James Robertson Says:

    I remember reading some research that indicated that users judged a site against their *final* success. That is, they might’ve spent 30 mins wandering randomly through the confusing site, but if they eventually found the information, the rated the site as “easy to use”.

    To me, this strongly suggests that the actual number of clicks is irrelevant. If it takes 12 clicks, but the user finds the page, they are satisfied.

    Just a thought,

  2. Donna Maurer Says:

    I have seen this a lot in usability testing. People might breeze through 5 tasks and have difficulty with the last, then say that the site was difficult (and vice versa).