Category Archives: Tips

The “3-Click Rule” is a myth

“Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth.”

This often-quoted maxim about the power of propaganda is attributed to some of history’s most notorious figures, its uncertain origin giving it a sort of meta irony.

Every few months, someone brings up the “3-Click Rule” to me. It’s the idea that some piece of information should not be more than three clicks from the home page. Usually they hear this as a recommendation from a speaker at a conference. Sometimes it comes from a more authoritative source, such as an accrediting agency, or is even presented as a legal requirement.

Like the quote above, no one knows who invented the 3-Click Rule, but it has been around for a very long time. It has been repeated by so many people in so many forums for so many years that it has become ingrained as a well-known truth. It sounds like a simple, reasonable rule to follow, but the truth is more complicated:

  1. The 3-Click Rule is not an actual rule of web design, not part of any official standard, and not backed up by data.
  2. The 3-Click Rule does not make information easier to find. Something can be three clicks from the home page and still difficult to locate.

Instead of following this arbitrary rule, we should have well-organized content, clear page titles and headings, and a logical navigational structure that makes it easier for people to find what they need.

For more information, read this article from the Nielsen Norman Group:
The 3-Click Rule for Navigation is False

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Finding page traffic numbers in Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a great tool, but in a previous post I explain why you have to be careful about drawing conclusions from mere traffic numbers. If you’re interested in seeing your website’s traffic numbers just for the heck of it, great. But avoid drawing hasty conclusions or taking hasty actions based on them. Talk to me first. If you want to see your traffic data, this post will explain how to find it. Continue reading

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Accessibility Guidelines

Making your website accessible is easy with WordPress. Most of the work is already done for you, in the technical design of the website, but some of it is up to you. Here are the main things you need to:

  1. Use Headings instead of bolded text
    • If you write a heading , highlight it, and click the “B” to bold it, then you have created a bold text that simulates a heading but is not technically a heading. Instead, use the options Heading 2 or Heading 3. Continue reading
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Augsburg’s Brand Voice

Augsburg CollegeRecently, the Augsburg College Department of Marketing and Communication produced a document on the college’s “brand voice.” It describes how to write in a way that reflects the tone and character. Whether you are writing for a department website, an email on behalf of the college or one of its departments, or anything else, follow these guidelines. Here is the content of the document in full. Continue reading

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Wasted clicks

Sometimes I hear people talk about the “number of clicks” required to get somewhere on the website. For example: “It should only be three clicks from the home page” or “Someone should not have to click that many times to get to it.”

Number of clicks vs. wasted clicks

It does not matter how many clicks it takes in order for a web user to get to a particular page or accomplish a task as long as each click along the way is intuitive and not wasted. Here is what web usability guru Jakob Nielsen wrote back in 1999 and the principle still applies today: Continue reading

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Spring (Summer?) cleaning and your website

Websites are not unlike homes. When left unattended, when not maintained, they develop clutter and slide into decay. Unlike our homes, a website is open to the public, anytime, anywhere. We do a lot of cleaning and organizing if we have people visiting our home in order to give our visitors the best impression and experience. Now imagine that every day dozens or hundreds or thousands of people you are trying to impress walk through your house. That is exactly what is happening on your website. Continue reading

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