Jakob Nielsen’s usability tests found that “users’ ability to find products on an e-commerce site increased by 600 percent after the design was changed so that products were 4 clicks from the homepage instead of 3.” from the book Prioritizing Usability, quoted in Highlights from Prioritizing Web Usability.
Further UIE usability tests show that it’s not the number of clicks but the well-labeled links with information scent that play a key role in usability. - Getting Confidence From Lincoln
A practical advice is to replace the three-click rule with the one-click rule: “Every click or interaction should take the user closer to their goal while eliminating as much of the non-destination as possible.” - Breaking the Law: The 3 Click Rule
This guideline is easier said than done. Actually achieving this includes a trial and error process of identifying the user’s goals (and subsequently, the tasks involved in meeting these goals) as well as creating an information architecture that makes it easy for them to achieve this.
Here are a few ways that can reduce the clicks for specific tasks:
- Expose frequently used controls or actions
- Consider direct manipulation on items (e.g. click text to edit, right-click to reveal more possible actions, etc.)
- For example, when displaying lists of data, allow users to do something with the items in the list by showing individual controls such as edit or rename, on hover.
Enabling such interactions cuts through the number of required steps to achieve a task.