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Intranet Advent Day 3 – It’s not about 3 clicks

Intranet Advent Day 3 – It’s not about 3 clicks

December 3rdWe’re counting down to Christmas with a stocking-filler tip every day.

The three click rule is so old that even people who are unfamiliar with UX and IA will repeat it, but would the three wise men have recommended it?

Let’s say you have 90 links on your home page, and each second page has 30 links on it, and then each third page has 30 links on it. The three click rules says the desired destination must be on the fourth page, and so your intranet can only have 81,000 items of content! Most intranets will surpass this number when you think about documents and news articles, profile pages and collaboration spaces. The three click rule isn’t a scalable approach.


3 click myth-busting

Joshua Porter debunked the ’three click rule’ for the web in the Journal of Interface Engineering over a decade ago. He found that people certainly continue clicking after three clicks – nothing special happened 3 or even 5 clicks in.

Martin White explains that the three click rule was about bandwidth and latency back in the day, and was never intended to influence navigation design.

The real solution is to have clear, explicit menu items and link text so that it is easy to decide between one route and another; sometimes called ‘information scent’, it means people should feel they’re getting closer to their desired destination.

You can design your navigation to meet people’s expectations (somewhat) with card sorting and test your navigation with tree testing.

See the Three Clicks Mythbusters video for more.

Intranet Mythbusters sketch courtesy of @UXMastery

Check #intranetadvent for a fresh idea each day.

Wedge Black

I support ClearBox in everything we do online, and I assist clients that are considering redeveloping or replacing their intranet platform. I worked in global and regional organisations as the intranet manager as part of the comms team, before becoming an intranet consultant. I'm the founder of the Intranet Now annual conference. I’ve tweeted about intranets and comms for fifteen years now.

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