Number of clicks

We’re working on some VR research projects at NYU that we want to eventually release to the public. One thing we need to force ourselves to keep in mind is what I call the “number of clicks” problem.

When you are working on something for a long time, elbows deep, you tend to forget how many steps it takes to do things. After a fairly short while, you become a sort of expert.

You know, without thinking, “oh, I just click on this, then that, then that third thing.” It eventually becomes so second nature that you don’t even realize you are doing those things.

But other people are not experts. To anyone having the same experience for the first time, all of those clicks seem like work.

What’s worse, if someone gets even a single click wrong, they hit a dead end. That makes people feel stupid. And people don’t like feeling stupid.

So as we design things meant to be used by the public, we always need to keep in mind that our final version needs to be very accessible. Which means, ideally, no more than one click.

2 Responses to “Number of clicks”

  1. Alistair says:

    Yes. That was a lesson I needed to learn when doing my dissertation project over a decade ago. I wrote this program that worked great for me, but as soon as I started showing it to others, I found that they couldn’t use it at all.

    Just as well I was getting most of my marks from the process engineering parts, not the user interface…

  2. J. Peterson says:

    But – be careful not to oversimplify. The original iPhone prototype had a “back” button as well as a home button. They removed it in the name of simplicity, but it ultimately resulted in a more complex design, as users now must hunt for the (inconsistently placed) “Done” / “Cancel” / “Back” / etc. somewhere on the screen.

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