Tech Tip #108: Three-click Rule

As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each Tuesday, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

Some websites/blogs are confusing. I have to click through from one site to the next to get the information I wanted until I’m nowhere near where I started. That’s annoying!

A: I agree! It’s called the 3-click rule made popular by Web designer Jeffrey Zeldman in his book, “Taking Your Talent to the Web.”. Oft-debunked-but-just-as-oft-followed, this  apocryphal rule claims ‘that no product or piece of content should ever be more than three clicks away from your Web site’s main page’.

This is true with not just programming a website, but teaching tech to students. During my one-score-and-seven-years of teaching, I’ve discovered if I keep the geeky stuff to a max of 2-3 steps, students remember it, embrace it, and use it. More than three steps, I hear the sound of eyes glazing over.

What you want to remember from this rule: Make information easy to access, quick to find. Readers and students have a short attention span.

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Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

Author: Jacqui
Welcome to my virtual classroom. I've been a tech teacher for 15 years, but modern technology offers more to get my ideas across to students than at any time in my career. Drop in to my class wikis, classroom blog, our internet start pages. I'll answer your questions about how to teach tech, what to teach when, where the best virtual sites are. Need more--let's chat about issues of importance in tech ed. Want to see what I'm doing today? Click the gravatar and select the grade.

7 thoughts on “Tech Tip #108: Three-click Rule

  1. I had not heard of the three click rule but it sounds like a good idea. Having to click through several links is annoying, no matter what website, especially blogs. A post should be visible as soon as you open it, or perhaps just one or two links. I’ve come across so many posts with nothing but a link to a post with nothing but a link to a post with nothing but a link to a post with nothing but a link, etc., and you don’t know when it ends and you finally get to see the actual post. People doing that don’t realize that it drives visitors away. It is not a good way to increase traffic.

    1. When I researched this ‘rule’, a lot of people wanted to debunk it, but the proof is in the use. Like you say–I get annoyed by the third click, very likely to quit.

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