Your website may be a matryoshka

So what is a matryoshka. Well it’s one of those Russian wooden nesting dolls. You see a beautiful painted wooden doll. It’s very tough to spot but there is a way of taking it apart and finding another wooden doll inside. … and so on, often for 6 or more dolls inside.

Some very arty websites are a bit like that. It’s not obvious how to get in. Only by moving your mouse around does the change in the cursor indicate you’ve found the way in. Perhaps for gaming enthusiasts, it’s an extra appeal but for most of us it’s a needless aggravation. Indeed a matryoshka may be easier.

Web designers producing such websites have obviously never heard of Fitts’s Law. This states: ‘The time to find and hit a target is a function of the distance to and size of the target.’ I believe the original had ‘acquire’ rather than ‘find and hit’ since the law was developed in 1954 and was dealing more with physical objects in the science of ergonomics. However I think this version is easier to understand. It’s an obvious truth that so many people forget. It’s the kind of thing that ‘Interactive Designers’ think about. How do you make it as easy and attractive as possible for the majority of your visitors to ‘interact’ with your website?

In fact, most websites have a bit of the ‘matryoshka’ in them. That tiny icon that must be clicked on to get to another web page is an example. So think Fitts’s Law. You’ll find that many more visitors will find their way into your ‘matryoshka’.