Learn about first-click testing

What is first-click testing?

First-click testing is a usability technique that can show you what people click on first in a user interface when they’re trying to complete a particular task. It’s a simple and effective technique that can be used to test live websites, wireframes and even physical products.

Where first-click testing proves really useful is in helping teams get unstuck and progressing design decisions.

In practice, first-click testing is commonly performed using dedicated software. Users are asked to complete tasks on a screen, while the software logs where they click first and how long it takes them to make a decision.

But why is the first-click so important? A study by Bob Bailey and Cari Wolfson titled “First click usability testing” found that a person’s first click in a user interface was a strong indicator of whether they succeeded in completing their task. If they got their first click wrong, they were significantly more likely to fail the entire task.

When you should use first-click testing

First-click testing is most useful early in the design process, ideally before you finalize any of your designs and hand them over for development. By running first-click tests on very basic designs, you can gather valuable insight into what works before committing more resources.

Here are some of the other ways you can use first-click testing, and some of the questions this method can help you answer:

  • If you need to decide between 2 designs, you can use quickly learn which design people prefer
  • You can test different icons to see which ones people understand
  • You can test multiple call to action buttons to see which ones attract attention.

Imagine you want to implement a new search icon onto your homepage, but you’re unsure if people will be able to locate it. You can set up a first-click test with the new search icon on the homepage, and task users with running a search on the website. By tracking where they click, you can determine whether or not the button is effective.

If you’re building a website from scratch, it’s the best type of testing to do once you’ve finalized your information architecture (IA).

What you need to run a first-click test

You don’t need much to run a first-click test. If you’re using dedicated software, then the process of setting up the test and analyzing the results will be even easier.

Here’s what to keep in mind before you start testing:

  • Don’t tell your participants that you’re going to be testing them on their first clicks. Doing so could influence their actions.
  • If you’re running a moderated (in-person) test, make sure you run through the test with your notetaker beforehand so you’re all on the same page about the correct pathways.

How to run a first-click test with Chalkmark

Chalkmark is our first-click testing tool. With Chalkmark, you can easily conduct first-click tests on screenshots and visual designs.

We’ve put together a first-click testing 101 guide if you’d like to run your own test using our tool. Our guide covers everything you need to know about setting up and running a first-click test, including tips for recruiting quality participants, establishing research goals and how to go about interpreting your results.

Looking for something else?

First-click testing 101

Learn how to run a First-click testing in our 101 guide

Learn more about our first-click testing tool, Chalkmark.

Tool demos

Take our tools for a spin in one of our demos