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MailerMailer – Improving Subscriber Experience: Fitts’ and Hick’s Laws as Applied to Email Design


MailerMailer – Improving Subscriber Experience: Fitts’ and Hick’s Laws as Applied to Email Design


Improving Subscriber Experience: Fitts' and Hick's Laws as Applied to Email Design

By: MailerMailer

Positive subscriber interaction relies not only on quality content, but on structuring that content in a way that streamlines the subscriber’s decision-making process. Fitts’ Law and Hick’s Law have become staples in the field of human-computer interaction for setting design guidelines that enhance usability, and in turn, user experience. These laws are commonly used to justify the size, orientation, and number of interactive objects on websites. But, what do Fitts’ and Hick’s Laws tell us about email design?

Fitts’ Law

In 1954, Paul Fitts published an article that detailed his theory on human mechanics as it pertained to aimed movement. With Fitts’ Law, the action of pointing to or tapping a target object can be measured and predicted mathematically. More specifically, the time required to move to a target is a function of the target size and distance to the target. Mathematically, this can be expressed as:

T = a + blog(1 + D / W)

In other words, time (T) is a function of distance (D) and width (W), where a and b are empirically determined regression coefficients– they build the slope between the starting point and target.

Pointing movements, like moving a mouse over a link and clicking it typically begin with a quick movement toward the target (ballistic movement) followed by fine-tuning movements (homing movements) over the target. Homing movements take the most time and are responsible for the majority of errors.

Bigger and closer targets will generally be acquired more quickly. However, since the relationship is logarithmic and not simply linear, Fitts’ law will have diminishing returns at certain points. For instance, a very small object will become significantly easier to click given a 20% size increase than a very large object given that same increase.

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  • Profile:  Jeff Ginsberg has 17+ years’ experience and is an industry known authority on email marketing who gets in the trenches with clients and helps them fulfill their marketing objectives, increase revenue and brand engagement. Clients rely on him and his team at The eMail Company to provide them with expertise from strategy to technology and from campaign management to channel integration. Jeff has worked with clients across all spectrums in the financial, automotive, retail and consumer packaged goods space. His experience covers both B2B and B2C markets. He has a strong background in educating and training agencies and clients about email best practices and is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to marketing tools and vendor selection. While Jeff’s team may be small, they know how to solve BIG email marketing problems. Looking for help with your next campaign? Don’t be afraid to give him a call – Jeff and his team ready to help you today. Give me a call: Toll Free: 877-We-eMail (877-933-6245) Local: 416-225-7711 eMail: jeff@theemailcompany.com
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