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Friday, March 23, 2007

3 Click Rule

One of our primary design tenants is to make the use of our products a pleasant experience. The definition of pleasant is subjective, but it can also be quantitative when you think about how easy (or difficult) is it for a user to complete a task. This is where we apply the 3 click rule, meaning "that access to any feature of an application, or each logical step in a process, should require no more than 3 clicks."

With Microsoft CRM it is often noted how clicky it is to use.  To view details about an entity, the user must:

  1. Select the entity type from the navigation bar
  2. Locate the entity in the grid
  3. Select the entity in the grid
  4. Open the entity
  5. Navigate to the tab containing the details

Minimum of 5 clicks (but likely more)

If the user then wants to see details on another similar entity, the user must:

  1. Close the open form
  2. Locate the entity in the grid
  3. Select the entity in the grid
  4. Open the entity
  5. Navigate to the tab containing the details

Minimum of 5 clicks (but likely more)

So, how do we improve the user experience?  One solution we offer our clients is our Split View component.  The Split View allows the user to view entity details without the need to open the entity for edit.  The Split View can also display extended information from related entities, incorporate our Relationship Navigator, and supports the addition of custom panels to meet other business needs.

Let's look at the above scenario again.  To view the details about an entity, the user must:

  1. Select the entity type from the navigation bar
  2. Locate the entity in the grid
  3. Select the entity in the grid

Success!!!  3 clicks.  The Split View does the rest!

If the user then wants to see details on another similar entity, the user must:

  1. Select the entity in the grid

Success!!!  1 click!!

While it may not seem like much, getting from a total of 10 clicks to 4 clicks is a 60% savings.  The result is not only a reduction in the number of times the user has to click their mouse button, but also the amount of time the user must wait for additional dialogs to load.  In addition the server load is reduced, which has a secondary benefit of quicker response times -- again improving the user experience.  When the number of entities viewed grows to three the savings increases to 66%, and at five entities viewed the savings is over 70%.

This is a simple scenario, but it demonstrates the impact the 3 click rule can make to the user.  Keeping the end user in mind during design increases user adoption during deployment, which results in a higher ROI -- and that translates into a happy customer, our ultimate goal.

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