The “3-Click Rule” is a myth

Posted on Categories Tips

“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