3.14159, 42, and 72: Three Numbers That (Should) Have Nothing To Do With User Interface Design

An August 2000 rebuttal to the 72 navigation argument by Denny LeCompte in Internetworking, an ITG publication. "The fame of Miller's number would be a wonderful thing if not for a couple of problems. First, at least in private settings, the magical number is often invoked inappropriately. For example, an individual may claim that a web page should have no more than 72 links on it. As will be discussed in more detail, nothing Miller said lends support to such a statement. Second, even when it is cited correctly, Miller's work is discussed as if the scientific understanding of short-term memory had not advanced at all in the last half century. In fact, an analysis of Miller's original paper and of subsequent scientific research suggests that 72 is no more relevant to user interface design than is Douglas Adams' facetious 42." Read the article...

Posted by seralat at 11:16 AM on June 14, 2002
Filed in: IA - Academic Approaches