Magic number 3

( Debugging UX myth 'the three click rule )

I don't write much usually, but this one was for the rest of the people in the firm who believed that, by reducing the number of clicks in an application will make it simple and easy to use. ( As a UX designer, i am sure, this would be one of the biggest challanges you will be facing in a tech driven company).

Being most popular among the non-design professionals, the three-click rule becomes the most heard comment during product discussions.So what is the three-click rule? It’s an unofficial rule stating, any application with less than three-click is more effective.

Although less number of clicks may mean less time and effort logically, in terms of user satisfaction and the amount of cognitive load put on the user, this theory doesn't hold true.


So when the user is bombarded with more options in the race of achieving the magic number (3 clicks), the cognitive load on user increases drastically creating confusions and might lead to undesired user behaviours. The same process would reduce the cognitive load when it’s divided into several small steps matching the users mental model, there by helping him perform the task with less error. This helps in reducing the user frustration and giving them a better experience of the app. Completing each steps also gives the user a confident feeling that he is in the right path of achieving his goals.



Its the UX designers job to give necessary feedbacks and cues to user in every step he takes, thereby nurturing his confidence to move ahead and complete the tasks. These feedbacks not only improves confidence, it also helps in guiding the users through various steps by making it much more intuitive, rather than forcing him to perform the actions.

This does not mean that you have to increase the number of clicks to make the user satisfied, it just means that if at all the process demands more space, its okay to stretch beyond three clicks if it helps in performing the task more effectively.


“The app should walk along with the user rather than following the user.”










For reference:
You can also refer the article ‘Information foraging’ published by Jakob Nielsen.

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