Three-click rule defunct, says Nielsen Norman usability group

The rule that Internet veterans have sworn by for years, that a website should be designed so that a user finds their content within three clicks is not a valid principle, Hoa Loranger told the audience at the NNG usability workshop in Amsterdam.

The workshop was led by Jakob Nielsen, who has developed the most widely used set of rules (“heuristics”) in website usability, and who is principle at the NNG group.

Ms Loranger told the audience that the leading usability company often gets asked if the three-click rule still applies.

The number of clicks is not important, Loranger explained, as long as the content flow makes sense and is logical, leading the users in a way that they understand and expect to the information that they need.

We absolutely need to understand from an information architecture perspective what the user’s requirements are, and build the flow to address them, she added. If we do that properly the number of clicks is no longer that important.

It is probably worth noting that the three-click rule has been increasingly questioned by design and usability experts, but it is still very prevalent with internet executives and web departments. A statement of this sort coming from NNG is therefore another weighty view taking us closer to its abolition.

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