In the near future, it will be essential for the ‘biggest’, most popular websites with lots of content, – aka clutter – to make their content more accessible to users. I call this the ‘less click, more scroll’ theory. It works something like this.
Let’s take a ‘big’ website like ESPN, the global hub for professional sports-related content on the web. Let’s say, for example, an individual wants to know the results of the Major League Baseball games. How long will it take this individual to reach this information? The answer depends on the number of clicks required to access the desired content. Let us run an experiment to see what that number is on ESPN:
1. We’ll start the experiment assuming that the first click is from Google to ESPN .
2. From the ESPN homepage, one more click on the MLB header takes us to the MLB homepage.
3. One more click brings us to the current day’s Scoreboard:
After 3 clicks, we have reached our final destination: the page holding information on the Scores/Results of MLB games on ESPN. On the surface, this navigation has complied with the so-called ‘3-click rule‘ of web-design:
In reality, however, more clicks are required to get the information we desire from the ESPN website. First of all, if we are interested in the final results from a prior day, one more click is required to reach that info:
4. Previous Day’s results page
It is at this point that , having gotten to the page we wanted, we now scroll down the page in order to consume the content. The page has detailed results of every game played on Thursday, September 20th, plus a headline link to the ‘recap page’ of the game.
However, it is unlikely that the average person would be much inclined to click any further into the results on the page. He or she will most likely scan the box scores – the numbers , possibly read the headline, and then navigate away from the content. Why?
Because the ESPN MLB scores page has a ‘cluttered’ look to it. It is hard to make much sense of the content on the page at-a-glance. Here is a nice tidbit on the subject of website clutter, taken from a 2004 article from Techrepublic’s Michael Meadhra:
There is a way to fix the ESPN’s MLB Scoreboard page, and make it more accessible, more inviting to users looking for that content: create a rundown page.
A ‘rundown’ page is a page that allows more critical information to be present at one time in one place, and therefore invites visitors to the site to access and click through to more detailed info in fewer clicks. I have been very busy creating blogs using the ‘rundown’ template design structure, mostly as a way for myself to keep up with the results, stories, and star performers in sports that I am no longer able to otherwise follow closely due to time constraints. There a four such blogs to date covering College football; NFL football; European football (soccer) ; and now, Major League Baseball.
Let’s take a look at the last – and newest – ‘rundown’ blog: The Majors Rundown (MLB Rundown was taken, even though the site has since been delted by its creators)
The first thing one notices is how light, and spacious the page looks. The above is simply a somewhat expanded version of the box score one would find on ESPN for this particular game ( ironically, sans the box score.) The key thing is that this look is a more efficient way to present the results of MLB results, because it removes the clutter contained on the ESPN scoreboard page, and makes the most vital information – the scores – easier to consume. It also makes the headline link – the story of the game – more attractive to a visitor, by simply adding an image of a ‘star’ performer – if there is one – beneath the link. A caption beneath the image, taken from the body of the recap, elaborates on the headline, and the image. More info is presented on a single page, which trades the need to constantly click, with the need to simply scroll down more to see all of the content. It’s a painless tradeoff.
A rundown-style blog such as The Majors Rundown, makes the content it covers attractive, and therefore a lot more inviting. It removes information that will be processed by an end user as ‘gibberish’ and ‘nonsense’, and provides only vital info, coupled with elements designed to grab a user’s attention and pull them further into the content. Such sites will most likely become the template by which to design webpages in the near future……