Stop Counting Clicks
It’s time for a cycling analogy
I’m a keen cyclist and there are quite a few hills near where I live. On a gradual hill, I shift into a fairly easy gear that still allows me to maintain a bit of speed. In order to get up the hill I might turn my pedals 300 times. Each pedal turn takes a bit of effort, but the hill isn’t very steep so I have no real problems getting up it.
The next hill I come to might be a lot steeper. In order to get up it I’m going to need to shift into my easiest gear. Each pedal turn is very easy, but I need to turn the pedals a lot more often in order to get up the hill. The steep hill is a more difficult task than the gradual one. By breaking the task up into lots of easy pedal turns I can still get to the top without problem.
So what has any of that got to do with websites? Well, in order to keep some tasks simple for your users, they may have to click more often. In the same way that a cyclist needs to perform more pedal strokes when climbing a steep hill.
Just as the cyclist is not counting her pedal strokes, your user is not counting his clicks. They both just want to get to where they’re going.
This kind of thinking applies perfectly to designing Natural User Interfaces. The gestures and manipulations we're designing are so much richer than point and click, though, so it's not just a matter of breaking down tasks into a certain number of clicks and screens.
With NUIs we can also decide to use a manipulation on content, apply rich animations for transitions, and blur the line between one user action and the next. The focus of NUI user experience design is much more about the quality of the interactions and playfulness than in GUI.
In a complex application, it may be impossible to count the number of taps or interactions if they are continuous. That's all the better though, since instead of quantifying the number of interactions, we should be qualifying the feeling that the interactions invoke. Is it fun or laborious? Is it engaging or boring? Is it social or anti-social?
How does your interface feel?