Trade-offs: clicks vs content vs clutter

What’s an online journey like? Think of users navigating the world wide web as explorers on an expedition in search of whatever it is they are looking for on the internet. How easily do they find it and are they satisfied with what they arrive at?

Users embarking on this journey through cyberspace meet different kinds of content—some of which may turn out to be clutter— and sifts through them using clicks.

Clicks, content, and clutter are all part of one’s venture into the digital landscape and it is the duty of web designers, developers and content creators to achieve a healthy balance among these three elements in order to provide users with a great browsing experience.

Click Count

Some people consider the number of clicks it takes for users to complete a task on a website as the determinant for the quality of experience it offers its visitors (this may help explain the origins of the unofficial three-click-rule that states users should find whatever it is they are looking for on a website in three clicks or less). While click count affects user experience to a certain extent, other factors also affect how many clicks it takes for users to accomplish what they set out to do on a website.

The truth is, there are cases where it is more convenient for website visitors to click through several pages of a very long article or an expansive catalogue as opposed to constantly scroll down a single page. In this case, users just need to click every time they want to move on to the next page instead of scrolling for what may seem like an eternity to find what they are looking for.

Moreover, some users tend to navigate back and forth around a website. For instance, those who view various products on online stores, comparing their features and prices, will make several clicks before they proceed to check out with their chosen items.

Nevertheless, there are occasions when numerous clicks can be attributed to the low level of technical knowledge of the users themselves, which is further aggravated by a poorly designed navigation and user interface. Users who are not technically savvy (such as the majority of the elderly population) may not know how to work their way around your site, so it takes them more clicks than necessary to accomplish their goal. This is why knowing who your target users are is very important to ensure the success of your website.

Clicks affect user experience, and the amount of which can either work for or against your website goals. Together with your web designers and developers, you need to examine the purpose of each click and the number of clicks needed before your website visitors arrive at where they want to go.

Content Creation

Most consumers nowadays turn to the internet to look for information, products or services. It’s the content creator’s job to not only help them find what they are looking for but also to ensure their satisfaction by coming up with high-quality content that’s optimised and easy to digest.

Making a positive first impression on your online audience requires a combination of stunning website aesthetics and well-executed content—be it in the form of text, photos or videos. Valuable and effective content can be a challenge to create, but if you do it right, it will greatly improve the quality of user experience and do wonders for your website.

Aside from the design and the content, you also have to strategise to boost your performance in search engine results. One way of optimising your website content is by using keywords that users will most likely type in search engines. The search engine will, in turn, look for pages with content that matches those terms and present them on a search engine results page or SERP ranked in order of how accurately the content matches the keywords, among other factors.

Producing a great deal of written content provides more opportunities for you to include your target keywords for search engine optimisation or SEO. The greater benefit of this is that you are able to communicate more information to your intended audience, which can boost your online visibility. However, be careful not to overdo it as this may lead to excessive material that diminishes your website’s substance and overall impact.

Clutter Cut-Down

You need to draw the line between useful content and clutter. Having a lot of relevant and valuable information is good, but having too much unnecessary content could hurt your website performance and give your visitors a negative experience. Here are three tips to help you prevent accumulating clutter on your website in the first place.

  1. Create scannable content. Not everyone reads the text on a website word for word. Organising your ideas into bullets and lists, or even simply breaking up paragraphs with subheadings can greatly improve the readability of your content and improve user experience.
  2. Set a word count limit. To avoid extremely long posts, prescribe the number of words for your articles and strive to keep from going beyond that cap.
  3. Pictures say a thousand words. Sometimes messages are better conveyed through images. Choosing the right photos to complement your website articles can be a great way of communicating ideas to your audience and eliciting your desired emotion, reaction or a response to your call to action.

The Balancing Act

Establishing a harmonious balance between clicks and content while minimising your clutter is essential to provide an excellent user experience to your website visitors. Clicks are important for browsing and finding your way around a site to achieve your goal. Content is the lifeblood of your pages, without which there simply is no point in having a website. Having the right amount of both and being conscious of limits before either of them become clutter could enhance the success of your website and the satisfaction of your visitors. Keep in mind that a clean and clutter-free website is equivalent to amazing and straightforward user experiences.