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We are developing an application which is divided in different modules (logical groups). When I proposed any UI for specific functionality, I try to make a logical grouping of the elements. Because of this, sometimes the number of clicks to go to that functionality may increase.

But some of my colleague always focus on number of clicks. According to them, it's ok not to have logical grouping of the elements, as long as the number of clicks is reduced.

Which approach is better? And what other things we should concentrate while developing UI for any functionality?

  • Ask your colleagues how they count mis-clicks. If their solution requires less clicks in theory, but actual users need more clicks (because of undo, then choose correct options), is their solution really better ? And this is just counting actual clicks, and ignoring time and frustration. – MSalters Dec 1 '15 at 12:07
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No.

It's a metric. But certainly not the only metric/perspective.

It all depends on the amount of information and/or possible goals there are, of course. If you only have 10 options, throw them all on the screen. Categorize them, sure, but no need for subpages. 100 items? Probably make 10 categories. 1000 items? Now it gets interesting.

There are (I think) three main things to keep in mind. There might even be a formula somewhere, but I've not heard of it so far. Roughly by order of importance:

  • duration/effort per step
  • progress per step
  • amount of steps

Which together culminate in putting in as little effort to reach the goal.


One very interesting example would be http://tweakers.net/pricewatch:

1 - pick a product category

2 - pick a product type

3~1000 - pick your own 'categories' by filtering for price, specs, brand, etcetera.

The first two are simple and easy, and from there on in it's up to the user to decide if every steps progress is still worth the effort of filtering.


Think of buying a phone. Microsoft and Apple sell roughly the same amount, but it's easier to get to a goal with Apple: -generation -series -amount of storage -color

With Microsoft: -series -generation -color

So on paper, Microsoft wins, right? Less choices.

But let's take a look at the choices, and how much effort each costs: Color? That's about the same for both brands.

Amount of storage? Microsoft doesn't have this choice, so they save some effort. Apple offers 3 choices for every type of phone. 8/16/32, 16/32/64, 32/64/128.

Series: Apple has two. A cheaper one and a premium one. Microsoft currently has 5, I think? 500 through 900. 500 being the cheaper lines, 900 the expensive one.

Generation: Both roughly have 1 generation per year.

So, on paper, still Microsoft being the easiest to choose with.

But, and here's the key point, Apple is much more careful (or at least WAS, they're slipping since Jobs died) about clearly separating hardware configurations. An iPhone 4 < 4S < 5 < 5S < 6 < 6s. There's the 5C, but that's got the same chipset and memory options etc as the 5. So this is pretty much a one-dimensional choice, just like storage.

Microsoft is not as neat. Currently you can choose a Snapdragon 210 (lumia 500 series), 808 or 810 (900 series). Previous generations were Snapdragon 200 or 800. One before that had the S4 Plus in both the 500 and 900 series. Is the Snapdragon S4 from the 900 better or worse than the Snapdragon 210?

On top of that, the storage is tied in to the specific model. So instead of first making a simple 5(ish)-option choice for speed and then a simple 3-option one for storage... I have to make one 15-choice option for speeds (if I can find a comprehensive chipset benchmark) which influences my choice for storage.


Or a simple analogy: it's easy to juggle 3 balls, put them down, and juggle 3 other balls. It's damn hard to juggle 6 balls at once.

Sorry this is more of a train of thought than a structured answer, but I hope it helps regardless.

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It's not true that reducing the number of clicks automatically makes something easier to use, but that doesn't mean you should ignore it altogether. This article on UX Myths links to several studies that relate to this point.

To answer your specific question we'll need more details on the specific scenarios you're designing for.

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The information architecture of your site is much more important than a few extra clicks.

Information architecture is defined by the usability.gov as follows :

Information architecture (IA) focuses on organizing, structuring, and labeling content in an effective and sustainable way. The goal is to help users find information and complete tasks. To do this, you need to understand how the pieces fit together to create the larger picture, how items relate to each other within the system.

A poor information architecture will force users to perform many needless clicks, will confuse them and probably will even leave the site without getting what they want. I recommend that you focus initially at creating a solid information architecture, and after that you may try to optimize the number of clicks.

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I really don't think UX can or should be measured purely on number of clicks. Personally I would rather click through 5 pages of intuitively, logically organised navigational elements to reach my goal, rather than having to visually scan through information which is irrelevant to my goal in order to find what I'm really looking for.

If you need to justify this to colleagues, think of a real world example that fits your project. For example, if your application is about finding information - if I go to the library, I would rather walk and browse around the entire library and look at clearly labelled shelves in logical categories, rather than walk straight into the library and have a big pile of books dumped right at my feet.

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Task time

The best metric for interface efficiency, in my experience, is time to task completion. That accounts for the number of clicks, but also the cognitive load to attain those clicks.

It is very common to find that more clicks makes the task more apparent and "usable" for the user. Consider that a key sequence requires the least clicks of all, but it fails the usability test for all but the most experienced users.

Of course, there are many soft metrics to deal with as well, eg user satisfaction and the need for tasks you didn't consider. That's why the fuzzy world of user feedback is pivotal.

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