Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Save the clicks!

I used to advocate the "3 click rule"

Well, it's not really a "rule" - but it was the guidance that I used to give my Internet and HTML students back when I used to be a University Lecturer.

In those days of antiquity (Way back in 1997!) there was this emerging beast of opportunity called "The Internet". I used to teach the technical aspects of incorporating sound and video into this stunning new pool of information. In order to do that I had to touch on web site design. I'm not a graphic designer. I can't draw and my colour co-ordination is dreadful! By "design" I mean navigation etiquette and functionality.

Before the advent of reliable drop down menus and style sheets, we relied on frames (shudder) and other such delights. Everything was designed with dial-up access in mind. Streaming was still in it's infancy. Getting your customer from your front page to the place they needed to be required intense research and more knowledge of how people think and interact than perhaps some designers were used to.

In order to focus the minds of my students on this aspect I introduced the concept of "3 clicks to anywhere". So - how is this relevant in today's highly functional and automated information "cloud"?

Let's take Twitter as an example.

I love seeing what people are linking to and reading the fascinating information that is all around us. That's what makes Twitter great. The interaction of people and the sharing of knowledge, information and opinions. However, like a lot of internet users I'm a little impatient and want this treasure trove to be easily accessible.

Consider this chain of "clicks" that was required to get to a destination full of lovely information:
Original tweet >> Twitlonger >> Facebook >> Facebook "warning page" >> Information (5 clicks)

This is particularly frustrating on a mobile phone as the response time can be a lot slower on GPRS if no WiFi is available. My "3 click rule" is 2 clicks too long nowadays!

Let's start thinking about our readers again. Make life interesting and easy for them and they'll keep coming back. You've gone to all the time and effort of gathering your "twibe" around you. now it's time to look after them properly!