Nov 13 2009

Interaction Elasticity

Jakob Nielsen occasionally drifts into utopian usability fantasies in which he tries to convince us that we should all stop using Flash and Photoshop. On the other hand, he occasionally publishes ideas that are valid.

I recently browsed a year-old article on Interaction Elasticity that contained this:

A path with 5 easy clicks is vastly superior to one with 3 difficult clicks. And a menu with 10 easily understood items is better than a menu with 7 obscure ones.

To put this in context, I was debating the use of a dreaded drop-down menu when I came across said article. For me, Nielsen's quote argued against things like drop-down menus, since providing a clear logical navigation path to subpages (even with 2 to 3 clicks) would be usable, clean and better for information architecture.

Note: I'm downplaying the traditional drop-down. I think rollovers that are more akin to widgets or what Nielsen calls a Mega Drop-Down aren't so bad.

1 comment

I wholeheartedly agree -- it's all about the user annoyance factor.

I never seem to be bothered by clicking through the various sections and subsections on a site as long as it's taking me on a logical progression towards the content I'm looking for. Although, as soon as I have to go hunting for links I get frustrated and leave the site. I'd imagine a lot of users browse like that too.

Will — Nov 13 2009