Nov 19, 2010

How many clicks?

In the UX world we often get hung up on how many clicks it takes someone to do something. A product's usability can be effectively measured by how many clicks it takes to do a task. If you reduce a task's clicks from 20 to 10, give yourself a pat on the back.

However, I think we're missing an important step. The mouse move.

We all know about the deadly triangle of interaction where a user finds themselves traversing acres of pixels to click this button, then inputting some text and then navigating to another button somewhere else on the screen. But even if you put those buttons close together, it's still probably not close enough.

This Facebook workflow for deleting a group member (see my rant on that here) underscores this thought:

This simple 2-click operation is made just a little bit harder by a slight shift of the button requiring a mouse move. It is made extremely painful when removing many (say 55) group members. No option to bulk delete is provided so you find yourself clicking, moving the mouse, then clicking again to confirm. Ugh.

So hey, now you know. Keep those clicks close. Even the simplest tasks can be made harder by small inconveniences. The only real way to prevent this kind of thing from surfacing is to REALLY use your product. I mean, really use it.

Don't just click around. Don't just run a test. Try to accomplish the task you're asking your users to do. Try to do it in 5 minutes. And don't just count clicks, count every gesture as well.

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