Millennials & Click Training

Christopher Rath



I am continually stymied by how little attention UI designers pay to my personal inconvenience. Today's user interfaces consume inordinate amounts of my time; as I click, click click, through innumerable menus and options to do my work. I have been trying to fathom how to understand why Millennials are in complete denial about the havoc they inflict upon us "old timers".

Click Training

Temple Grandin says that the best way to train a pet is through the use of "click training".  The point of this training method is to "charge" up a clicker (literally, a hand-held device that makes a clicking sound) with positive reinforcement and then reward the pet with those clicks when the pet performs as desired.

Application to Software

A couple of years ago, as I was struggling with the deployment of Office 2007, one of the Millennials on my firm's help desk told me, "... we don't mind clicking" as I told him that I was frustrated with the number of mouse clicks it took to perform common tasks.  I was stunned by this statement, and I did not understand the comment.  This post is the crystallisation of my thinking on this subject.

The help desk technician's comment made it evident to me that he had no comprehension of the frustration I was feeling as a result of my reduction in personal efficiency.

Clicker Training

It struck me lately that Millennials like clicking their mouse. When a user interface requires them to click it has the same effect as when a pet hears a click from their owner's clicker. When a Millennial clicks 5 or 6 times to perform a task, they feel good. When I click more than once, I feel angry and frustrated.

Most of the time I spend using a computer is spent doing productive work. I don't play games on the computer. For me, the computer is a tool. As a result, for me, every wasted clicked is wasted time; and, I hate wasted time.

For Millennials, computers are mostly used for entertainment. As a result, each time they click their mouse they are building up positive feelings into the clicks; just like a pet stores up positive feelings in the master's clicker.


Product designers must throw off the clicker training and use rational efficiency measures when they design user interfaces; instead of relying upon how they "feel" as they use the interfaces they design. In other words, rational design must overtake emotional design.

ęCopyright 2013, Christopher & Jean Rath
Telephone: 613-824-4584
Address: 1371 Major Rd., Ottawa, ON, Canada K1E 1H3
Last updated: 2015/02/14 @ 21:33:56 ( )