business / marketing / tech tips for writers / writers tips

Tech Tip for Writers #115: The 3-Click Rule

Tech Tips for Writers is a (sometimes) weekly post on overcoming Tech Dread. I’ll cover issues that friends, both real-time and virtual, have shared. Feel free to post a comment about a question you have. I’ll cover it in a future Tip.

Q: Some writing websites/blogs are confusing. I click through way too many options to get anything done. What’s with that?

A: I hadn’t put a lot of thought to this until I read a discussion on one of my writer forums about the oft-debunked-and-as-oft-followed 3-click rule made popular by Web designer Jeffrey Zeldman in his book, “Taking Your Talent to the Web”. This claims ‘that no product or piece of content should ever be more than three clicks away from your Web site’s main page’.

This is especially important when writers create the websites/blogs to accompany their novels. Readers arrive at your site excited to find out more about your manuscript. This 3-click rule suggests you keep the number of mouse clicks to two or three as readers find out about your book, a summary, and where to buy it. More than three steps, you’ll hear the patter of virtual feet exiting the website you working so hard to build and market.

Whether you agree with the ‘rule’ or not, it’s a good idea to make information easy and quick to find. Readers have a short attention span.

The most popular tech tips for writers:

Tech Tip for Writers #67: How to Add Accents and more

Tech Tip for Writers #106: Auto-add a Period, Caps Lock, and More on an IPad

Tech Tips for Writers #94: Keyboard Shortcut for Find

Tech Tip for Writers #109: The Five Second Back-up

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her book at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.

48 thoughts on “Tech Tip for Writers #115: The 3-Click Rule

  1. Pingback: Tech Tips for Writers #124: What the Heck Does ‘Print Screen’ Do? | WordDreams...

  2. I’m follow D.G. Kaye’s blog. I’m glad she shared your piece. A simple and helpful rule. I’m glad to have a web designer who knew that. It’s a jumpy impatient world out there. Thanks for helping us navigate.

    Liked by 2 people

    • My pleasure, Elaine. You really have to be committed to go past three clicks–without thinking there are probably four more. One, sure, but by the time you get through three, you’re done.


  3. Pingback: Tech tips, website links, blogging, D.G. Kaye

  4. I’ve come across so many sites were things are hard to find. It’s aggravating. I put all my social media links in my sidebar and I have separate tabs for the age groups I write in. I try to make it easy and hope my site is navigable enough.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Very good ideas. In my online classrooms, I’ve been told they are simple to navigate. My secret: Redundancy. I provide links wherever the person is and they’re direct, not the first of many.


  5. I like this rule, Jacqui so it’s good to see you reminding people that it’s a good idea. The thing I dislike is when I click on a link or two and can’t get back without closing the site and starting again. I’m not sure what this is called or why it happens, maybe it’s got something to do with “opening in a different window” (it confuses me)😉

    Liked by 1 person

  6. We all know this rule, instinctively, because we’ve visited (and abandoned) websites that made us shake our heads because they wouldn’t reveal their secrets (or their products) in a quick and intuitive way.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. 1. I need to clean up my blog page – too busy. That’s first.
    2. Then when I become a famous author, I’ll need to make sure visitors can find info about my books in only three clicks – that’s a great tip, Jacqui.
    3. Last, I’ll need to find a way to include an autograph for my admirers.

    The only one I can really do now is #1. 😀

    I’ve noticed that your page is easy to navigate. You always include related posts to the current post, making it easy to get additional info. Your sidebar is well organized. You’re a good model for your own advice.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Rule? In my business it’s a law. I’ve participated in website testing that proves this. Three is the limit, none or one is better. and you only have about 10 seconds to hook a visitor so clean up and simplify your layout.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. This is sooo important. There are some websites that are so hard to navigate that I can’t even find the recent posts. Another challenge (hint – I’d love you to help with this one) is when a website’s link in reader leads to an error page. I don’t know why this happens and I end up unable to reciprocate a visit. I don’t think the website author even knows that they are missing out on visits. Thanks, Jacqui, for all the helpful info. You’re the go-to gal😀

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree. I’ve been known to respond in the comment section of my blog, but I’m not sure that visitors view responses. And–like you–anyone who shows an interest in my blog intrigues me. I want to see what’s going on in their lives. I’ve met amazing people this way.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you it is a very good post! I have noticed this…if someone comments on my blog, a new pic I’m not used to seeing I press the gravitar in hope, mostly I get a nice picture bigger than the one pressed, many a time it does justice to the blogger, but alas, no link to their blog. So leave is what I do, meaning to google the name later but often it is a connection lost. All for the want of a link. 😢

    Liked by 3 people

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