The 3 click rule is bothering me!

At times, you will come across clients who go on and on about the 3 click rule. They will reject your designs and ideas saying it doesn’t have the 3 click rule. ‘Where on earth did they find this’? You think. Probably picked out of a conversation with someone trying to sell another product with the buzzword or phrase saying ‘with ux in mind we designed everything for the 3 click rule so that the customers won’t leave trying to find out things’ etcetera.

Right. So, what exactly is this 3 click rule? It means that a user will stop using your product if he doesn’t accomplish what he wants within 3 clicks or taps. It started off as web rule and now it applies to apps as well according to some people. So, as long as everything is within 3 clicks, it is supposed to provide a good user experience in getting a task done. But the question is, does it? What if, what you design helps the user get to the goal smoothly within 4–5 clicks instead of 3? Is it not better than them getting confused at the stage 2 (click 2) and getting all mixed up? And then having to go back, questioning their own intelligence and end up feeling bad?

So, what I am trying to point out here is that, by allowing everything to be done in 3 clicks is going to ruin a user’s experience. This is CONTEXTUAL of course. What we are trying to do when creating a pleasant user experience is, simplify what the user has to go through so that they won’t get frustrated or end up forgetting what they wanted to do (if they come back after having fun, that is fine :D ). That is why most complex things are in layers (a human’s anatomy for example). Or in stages. Because then it is easy for a person to process and focus on one thing at a time. Have you heard ‘Don’t make me think’ Hashtag reference ;)

My opinion (and some others’ as well) is that, everything cannot be compressed down to be done in 3 clicks. It is only going to confuse people. Why? Because we should compose things and guide the user in a manner that is easy to understand. And that is, where next to go or what next to do to achieve his/her goal. And in doing so we eliminate the distractions and pave a clear path for the users to get their job done. This is not hand holding mind you, this is a gentle ‘way pointer’ so that they are not disturbed. And another thing that popped in my mind while thinking about a journey is that, not all the clicks have the same weight or meaning.

So what can you do when a problem arises like this? Do what’s best for the users! You have to stand for them. You are their Wonder Women or Super Man! And if you can’t make the clients understand, what can you do? Test! That IS the holy grail! Tell them that you will do A/B testing with the designs (do at the very early stages since you won’t have time to mess around at the latter stage of the project) I wish you all the best!

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