How Many Clicks Does it Take?
Monday, August 24, 2009 4:13:52 AM
How many clicks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of good usability?
Growing parallel to the video game industry, Internet users are aware of the incremental innovations that have become defining characteristics of gaming platforms, most notably in controllers, the interface by which you manipulate the on screen action. Initially more buttons meant more control. Atari gave us one, then we got D-pads, shoulder buttons, auto-fire, triggers, etc.. At some point between Playstation's 16 buttons w/ dual joysticks, and Jaguar's 18-26 buttons (depending on how you Do The Math), people got confused. Parents stopped playing with kids and casual gamers fell off the map; innovation turned into isolation.
Nintendo led a return to basics with Gamecube's large A button and colorful/ergonomic style; but there was another idea lurking on the drawing board. Back in the NES days, it wasn't uncommon to see people swing controllers in a boss fight, tilt their body as they drive, or jerk the pad up when they made Mario jump, particularly parents and casual players long forgotten. It was Nintendo's innovative concept of allowing what came naturally to be a form of control that helped springboard them from third place to first with the introduction of Wii's simple 10 [action] button controller. Removing complexity lowered barriers to entry and the market grew.
Opera has done similar things for browsing. No, I'm not talking about Mouse Gestures. About two years ago Opera introduced a feature that got my parents to switch browsers: Opera 9.2 added support for automatic searching from the address bar when users enter more than one word. How many times in the past have people opened a tab, clicked that address bar and started typing only to get a 404 error?
"You gotta search from the Google box, Dad."
By capturing the actions that came naturally to users, Opera decreased confusion and the time it takes to get to the information you seek by a few more clicks. You see, there are more ways to make browsing faster than refining the way pages render. The fewer clicks needed to find what you seek, the better the experience, and if you can minimize confusion along the way, even better. Opera makes browsing as simple as one, two, three.
To save a few more clicks and answer the age old question: It's approximately 400.