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Three click rule

What is a three click rule?

The three-click rule is an informal principle in UX design that suggests that users should be able to find the information or complete a task on a website within three clicks or fewer. The rule emphasizes the importance of keeping navigation paths short and intuitive to enhance the user experience and prevent frustration.

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When to use a three click rule?

  • If your website is primarily an information resource, such as news sites, blogs, or content-intensive platforms, implementing a three-click rule can help users quickly access the information they need. It ensures that important content is easily found and reduces the effort required for users to navigate through multiple pages or sections.
  • When designing interfaces that require users to perform specific tasks, such as e-commerce websites or web applications with complex workflows, the three-click rule can improve efficiency. It encourages designers to streamline the flow of tasks, minimize the number of steps or screens, and guide users to achieve their goals more efficiently.
  • The three-click rule becomes especially relevant in the context of mobile devices and responsive design. Due to limited screen space, it is crucial to optimize the user journey and minimize the number of interactions required. Mobile users often have a shorter attention span and higher expectations for efficiency, making the three-click rule a valuable guideline for creating a user-friendly mobile experience.

Benefits of a three click rule

  • Efficiency: By minimizing the number of clicks required to find information, the three-click rule improves user efficiency. Users can quickly access the content they need or achieve their goals without unnecessary navigation steps, saving time and effort.
  • Simplified navigation: The three-click rule encourages designers to optimize the navigation structure and information architecture. This results in a more organized and intuitive interface where content and functionality are logically grouped and easily accessible.
  • User engagement: An optimized experience reduces the risk of users leaving the interface due to confusion or difficulty finding information, resulting in increased user engagement and interaction.
  • Cognitive load: A simplified experience allows users to stay focused, making the overall interaction more enjoyable.
  • Mobile design: By adhering to the three-click rule, designers can make mobile interfaces concise, efficient, and fit into the confines of small screens. This approach improves the usability and accessibility of the interface for mobile users.

How to implement a three click rule?

  1. Identify user goals: Understanding your users’ goals will help you prioritize the most important content or features that should be available within three clicks.
  2. Optimize your information architecture: Optimize the information architecture of your interface by organizing content in a logical and hierarchical way. Group related information or features together to reduce the need for extensive navigation. 
  3. Simplify navigation: Use clear and concise labels for navigation elements, and consider using drop-down menus or hierarchical navigation to provide deeper levels of content without overwhelming users.
  4. Prioritize content placement: Place high-priority or frequently used content within easy reach, preferably within one or two clicks from the homepage or main navigation.
  5. Optimize the search functionality: Implement a robust search function in addition to the three-click rule. A powerful search function can help users find specific content or complete tasks more efficiently by reducing the need for extensive navigation.
  6. Use clear calls to action: Clearly label buttons or links with descriptive text that indicates their purpose and place them in prominent places in the interface.


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Why is it not beneficial to strictly follow the three click rule?

Remember that the three-click rule is a guideline, and there may be cases where it is not feasible to meet the three-click limit without compromising the structure or functionality of the interface. The goal is to strike a balance between simplicity and providing comprehensive access to necessary content. Regular user testing, feedback collection, and iterative design practices are essential for refining the implementation and ensuring that it aligns with the needs and expectations of your users.

What rules should be followed instead of the three click rule?
  • User testing and iteration
  • Contextual relevance
  • Consistency and recognisability
  • Progressive disclosure
  • Performance and speed

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