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I'm analysing the users on a website and notice there are lot's of options that are almost never clicked on, which have the same prominence (so I'd assume as easy to find) as some much more popular links. Is there a cut of point where you'd say

If less than 1% of users use this feature then it can be removed?

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If the number of clicks is negative, something is definitely wrong. Other than that, there are things you will want to keep even with 0 clicks (say legal requirements) so you can't just blindly remove things below a certain threshold. –  Gala Jun 25 at 13:00
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Depending on what the site is about, your "power users" might get really angry at you. –  PlasmaHH Jun 25 at 15:47
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Perhaps you need to implement an "over-time" policy. If I do my taxes for example, I might click "download my statements" on my bank's website once a year. Therefore, once a year I need to be able to access those things. If you notice that there is a time of year a user clicks somewhere you may just move, instead of remove. –  Mallow Jun 25 at 18:35
    
Little-used features can be "hidden" - requiring more clicks to reach (say under the "advanced" button). Removing functionality altogether will often upset some users. It depends on what your goal is: an uncluttered design with a few unhappy users, or a fully functioning website with lots of features "just in case". –  Floris Jun 28 at 19:15

4 Answers 4

up vote 70 down vote accepted

It won't be as black and white as that.

For instance - if it's a weather website and there is a button on there for Report a Tsunami then that's almost never going to get clicked, but that doesn't mean it's not needed.

It's all going to depend on a variety of factors. Business requirements / politics dictating that features need to be present, legal requirements, legacy features for old customers, providing awareness that a feature exists even if it's not used (for example you could have a link to the Twitter account on the page. That may not be clicked on but it shows the user that there is a twitter account for that company). It's never just as black and white as 'very few people clicked this feature over the last 30 days so lets scrap it'.

Sure, use the analytics as some data to trigger some investigation in to why things aren't getting used, but that's all the data should be for - prompting investigation. You shouldn't act on pure analytic data alone.

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Thanks Jon. I'm a big fan of the Tsunami example. –  firefields Jun 26 at 16:00
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Relevant xkcd - xkcd.com/937 –  this.lau_ Jun 29 at 3:31

As always, XKCD has an appropriate comic:

xkcd: Workflow

If you have a button on your website that is very rarely used, consider that the people who use that button might rely on it more than you think. For example, Word has an option to insert an ActiveX object. I doubt many people use it nowadays, but it's still in there because some people do.

Backwards compatibility is also important. You can open word documents dating back 15 years using the most recent version of office, but that also means it needs to support the features (and bugs) of 15 year old documents.

What I'd suggest is, instead of simply removing rarely used options, is to turn them into advanced options. Again, using Office, you can set often used options like font, size, formatting and emphasis using 1 group of 1 ribbon tab. if you want to do a strikethrough or a superscript, you just open an extra window using a small button on that ribbon group. You might have to educate the experienced users on where you can find it, but that's easily done using a help tooltip.

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-1 for the extremely overused xkcd comic +1 for the rest of the comment –  Francisco Presencia Jun 25 at 23:21
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Worth mentioning that the amazing job that Word did with backwards compatibility may be its biggest flaw? –  Pierre Arlaud Jun 26 at 8:30
    
The sky "may be" green. –  immibis Jun 26 at 10:25
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@immibis In some places it is, actually. Right before a severe storm with tornados and twisters, the sky apparently turns green. –  Nate Kerkhofs Jun 27 at 11:04

The click-through rate should not be your only consideration.

Google's I'm Feeling Lucky button is used for less than 1% of searches. That 1% costs the company $110 million per year (in 2007) in lost revenue due to advertising being skipped. The button doesn't even work that well for getting you the optimal search result. Despite these drawbacks, Google has decided to keep that whimsical feature on their front page as the face of the company.

It may be surprising that Google, which is well known for its reliance on data-driven UX design, has decided to keep that button on their front page against all rational reasons. It's even more perplexing, considering that Google's front page is the paragon of minimalist web design. There are dozens of important products and features that they could be promoting, and yet, they keep those hidden in favour of I'm Feeling Lucky.

Clearly, in the case of the I'm Feeling Lucky button, they decided that there are intangible benefits that are far more important than the click rate.

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So how do you use the I'm feeling lucky button these days? If you type something into the Google search field it just asynchronously loads search results. If you just hit the button without typing anything it takes you to the google doodles page. –  Evan Jun 25 at 23:54
    
disable JavaScript –  technosaurus Jun 26 at 3:19
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@technosaurus I doubt google are losing much money from that button anymore. –  Evan Jun 26 at 6:54
    
@Evan Nowadays, "losing" money means "not getting more". Anything they would bet in stead of this button would be more profitable (like "search images" would be an instant win for me). The point of this answer is that it's not that simple and there are more subtle reasons for it to stay. +1 for the example –  Pierre Arlaud Jun 26 at 8:33
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Opportunity cost is not the same thing as losing money. –  Jacob Raccuia Jun 26 at 13:52

I like the answer of @JonW that is quite complete.

I'd add a note: if the feature is polluting your view, you might want to hide it under a "advanced features" collapsible panel. It is important a person (especially a newcomer) can see the frequent operations right under his nose (typically grouped at the right, the top or on a flying panel with noticeable colors)

I noticed Google has a more subtile distinction: they use buttons for frequent operations and links for less frequent ones

I'll also add that users might don't even know the feature exists and would be glad to use it if they knew it is possible. For that, you could invite some users to answer if they know they can do the feature (by organizing a gift rewarded game that requires to answer to the questions). You can both discover people didn't know the feature is there and have them use it now that they know it

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Good thoughts. One thing to consider when answering, however, is if you're really tacking on to someone else's answer (as I think you're saying in the first sentence), put your additional notes in the comment section below that answer. This helps consolidate great ideas and answers. –  Andrew Jun 25 at 12:43
    
Ok thanks I've been unmasked, I'm new to UX :) –  Zied Hamdi Jun 28 at 9:40

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