I remember having to train someone at work in the early 1990’s how to use a new computer software package that had just been installed in my department at work. I was in my mid-twenties, and she was probably in her early forties. While I thought that I probably had more computer experience than she did, I was optimistic that she would learn quickly.

We sat down together at the computer. I pointed to a spot on the screen, and said “OK, point the mouse here to begin.” She picked the mouse up in mid-air, and placed the mouse up against the screen, near where I pointed. It was then I began to sense this lesson might take some time.

In the almost 30 years since that lesson, computers have become ubiquitous in our homes and work places, and the mouse/trackpad/finger remains the primary way we navigate around our screens. The practice has changed little. We see a thing we want to interact with. We click on that thing. Something happens.

I’ve been thinking a lot about mouse clicks this week. In our moderating a Yammer network for my organization, I often find myself in the position of encouraging my colleagues to share files and information using Microsoft tools as often as possible. Yammer is part of the Microsoft Office 365 suite of tools, so it just makes sense to keep information in the same platform.

However, this week one of my colleagues (you know who you are!!!) shared a Google spreadsheet in her Yammer group, when I would have preferred a Microsft Excel spreadsheet was shared instead. Excel sheets can be updated by all users, they can be printed, downloaded…it all works great. All users need to do is to (1) click on the name of the file, then (2) click “Edit File” on the right side of the page, and they have full access.

I clicked on the link for the Google spreadsheet my colleague shared, and noticed I was in edit mode right away. I did not need to ask permission. I did not need to enter a different functionality mode. I was able to do what I needed to do right away. I didn’t need to click a link to make a change. Sure, the Google link looked a little boring when compared to a full, graphic file icon for Excel, but I only had to click once, instead of twice.

One click, instead of two.

Really, should only ONE click be that big of an issue? Enough of an issue to offer a completely different solution, with different functionality? One click of a mouse? One click instead of two?

mouse-click

 

Yes. Absolutely. Though a mouse click only takes two to four milliseconds to complete, we click our mouses (on average) 1,000 times per day. Sure, that still accounts for only two seconds of time, lots more time is actually involved. We spend time navigating to that very specific point on our screen. We think through what we are trying to do. We click on the wrong thing. We change our minds. We pause. Sometimes we think.

I wanted to tell my colleague to ditch her Google sheet, and upload an Excel spreadsheet instead, but I couldn’t defend it. She did a good job, she made things a little bit easier for her audience while maintaining functionality and getting the information she needed.

I am hoping that my friends, the smart people at Yammer and Microsoft, will continue to explore ways to refine the Yammer user experience. Why should things take two clicks of a mouse when the could take one, or maybe even none. Rather than having users click on a file, then having to realize to they need to go into edit mode, give the document owner control over how that file is shared, and who can make changes. Get our users into edit mode right away.

Two clicks, as opposed to one click, should not be that big of a deal. But that one click is bringing our users out of our platform. That one click weakens our engagement. The one click of this silly little peripheral tool, one that 30 years ago many people did not even know how to use, is making our success a little more elusive and much more challenging.

That one click is proving to be very expensive.

 

1 Comment

  1. Take it a step further…billions of clicks a day across the world. Millions of clicks a day in a corporation or non-profit. Efficiency means time is money. Google has for years done something they promote and I hope other software developers take note of, they test. Google often shows 30 different pages of their home page, the logo moved up slightly, buttons closer together, an extra short phrase under the search bar, the length of the search bar. They test speed, experience and outcomes. They assume they don’t know the answer and “what’s best” but let data tell them.

    I’m glad to see you have an open mind, as a long time user of Word/Excel/Powerpoint change can be scary, but as a long time user of Google Drive (the formal name for) Docs, Sheets, Slides and more tools. Collaboration is the center of what makes those tools so amazing. It’s clear they tested it and have refined.

    Your next post can be titled, Try New Things.

    Liked by 1 person

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