Is the Number of Clicks Really an Issue?

Posted: Jun 4, 2021
Design Marketing Strategy

The simple answer? No.

Getting Coffee

Imagine your smoothest transaction whether it's online or not.

Think about how many steps it takes to complete it.

Now, I get my coffee at a local place on my way to work, and here's how smoothly the transaction goes:

  1. I walk in and greet the barista.
  2. "One large black iced coffee please."
  3. I stick my card into the reader.
  4. I tap a select to tip.
  5. I tap "No Receipt."
  6. I wait for my Coffee.
  7. I grab it and go.

Despite there being seven steps in this process (minus the enjoyable small-talk), every time I go there to get my coffee, I am never left annoyed at this process.

Buying something Online

Let's now swap to an online transaction:

  1. You arrive at the website.
  2. You search for the item you want.
  3. You add it to your cart.
  4. You click checkout.
  5. You input your information.
  6. You click "Order/Confirm."
  7. You wait for your product to arrive.

It's another approximately seven-step process if everything goes smoothly.

When writing out these steps - it can seem like a lot, especially if you consider that some "rules of thumb" of UX/UI used to state that any transaction should ideally take three clicks. But think about the last time accomplishing anything on the web took you three clicks or less.

Consider the User's Journey & Pain Points

During my study and training in the UX/UI field, oftentimes we were told to "design for the worst-case scenario."

If we take either of the above journeys, we could easily insert a handful of speed bumps and pain points into these processes.

What if the coffee I want is sold out? What if my card isn't accepted? What if there's a line of people in front of me and I'm late?

What if I cannot find the product I'm looking for? What if there are too many options to pick from? What if I forgot my login information?

It is this discrepancy that we want to be aware of when we talk about whether or not the number of clicks is actually an issue when we design websites and/or experiences.

The number of clicks may allow for more room for error - but if we are doing our due diligence to help users clearly navigate to where they need to go, and thinking ahead to address pain points before they arise, the number of clicks ceases to become a chore but end up being more like natural steps on a walk.

Pain points - not clicks - are the speedbumps that we need to flatten out when creating pleasing and helpful websites and experiences.

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Sean Norton