Talking at cross purposes of learnability vs facility

26 Feb 2007 - 9:27am
669 reads

re: Should reducing number of clicks be of primary concern?

Until we have a better framework for this conversation we will continue to
talk at cross purposes. It's fascinating seeing how this process repeats
itself with such regularity, even with what must be extremely competent
thinkers. Each side entrenches more deeply into its mutually exclusive
extremes and mislabels the discussion for its own generalized worldview.
This always seems to result in our longest threads.

But despite some great comments (I'll be quoting Dave's "descriptions of
feelings" on our conference room whiteboards in PERMANENT marker, and I've
inquired for the rights to Nasir's example) this is not a debate. It is a
bunch of blind men in a room feeling an elephant.

The cross purposes are learnability vs facility. (I postulate that usability
is exclusively the sum of the two, and though some elements of usability
have feet in both camps, the affinity is fairly strong.) All of the correct
statements about Spools 'scent' and the logic or propriety of links are
discussions of learnability/discovery/marketing sites/content-centric sites.
All statements that aim to justify few clicks are concerned with facilty...
the speed of use once learned or discovered, as in applications. As in all
design questions, there's an "it depends," and as some comments have
mentioned, in this case it depends on whether the user is doing a repetitive
task. Once you are designing for repetition, all of us want---insist
on---the fewest clicks. If your audience needs to learn before repeating,
the design challenge is to balance the two so you stay in business long
enough for the visitor/user to repeat the task.

----- Original Message -----
From: "David Malouf" <dave.ixd at>

> These are not useful descritions of solutions, but rather descritions
> of the feelings that users have using it. It is important to listen to
> these statements, but they are not directions.

Then I flash this picture:
"This is a 2-click interface, too ..."

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