When we were prepping to write the blog for this topic, we had a decent understanding of what the three click rule was but realized we had never actually looked it up. So naturally we went straight to the google machine. And here’s the “official” Wikipedia “definition”:
“The three click rule is an unofficial web design rule concerning the design of website navigation. It suggests that a user of a website should be able to find any information with no more than three mouse clicks.”
“Duh” you’re probably thinking, “that’s pretty straightforward and seems like common sense”.
Yeah, we agree. But even still we have municipalities asking us why they’re bounce rate is so high, or why people aren’t taking advantage of all the great data they have displayed on their website.
Our first reaction is always something along the lines of “*Profanity and swear words*! You’ve embedded our data on your site and people aren’t using it?! God almighty our business model is broken, there’s no value added after all! PIVOT, PIVOT, PIVOT!” (tech start-up joke, if you don’t get it just call us nerds and shove us in a locker like old times)
In all our panic we frantically jump out of our hammock’s, open up our hipster laptops covered in stickers, and start pounding away at keys to pull up the website. Then we spend 5 minutes blindly rummaging around tabs to find where this data might be living.
In the internet world that’s a lifetime.
If you’re new to website management, the online world of communication, or any sort of marketing in general, let us explain our emphasis on that seemingly small time frame. Five minutes on a website looking for information is like 5 hours talking to someone in person (slight exaggeration but you get the point). If they have spent 5 minutes looking for what they want, and they can’t find it but won’t give up? Good news and bad news. Good news is, they are the strongest of strong leads and are hella committed to getting what they need from your website so if they find it, you’re in luck. Bad news? That’s essentially 1% of all people that visit your website. So the majority of users that get on there and can’t find what they need in… oh… I don’t know, say, 3 clicks? Will. Leave. And not come back. And not call. And you’ll never see them again.
SO. Even though our definition was from Wikipedia (it was the first one to pop up and it served the purpose, so we used it, don’t blame us), there is plenty of data and statistics and really high paid professionals out there that agree with what we’re saying.
If that information is important (which all info on your website should be). Make sure it is easily accessible to a first-time user of your website. Ensure that the tabs are intuitive and include what you might think they include. Sure, getting creative and using big words may make you stand out or seem really good at what you do, but those are of no help when your users can’t figure it out. How do we say this simply; dumb – it – down.
So, if you’re putting your website together, and you need to add tabs and areas of more information, get a friend or family member or someone who is mostly unfamiliar with your site to try it out. If they can’t figure out where it is in 3 clicks, it’s in the wrong place.
From your friends at Townfolio,
Happy navigating 🤓