If you’ve attended a design review or critique recently, you’re aware of the typical lanes of inquiry:

  • What people problem is this solving?
  • Are these styles consistent with our guidelines?
  • Let’s step back, why are we doing this again?

These questions are usually well founded: if you’re asked what problem you’re solving, you probably didn’t do a good job framing your solution; if you’re asked consistency questions, you likely colored outside the lines; and if people want to take a step back and question everything…well that’s usually a pretty strong signal too. 

However, there is one common form of critique which I think is misguided: counting taps.

It comes it various shades: “it takes too many taps to do this”, or “X flow is better than Y because X has fewer taps”. All roll up under a philosophy which states that total tap count should be limited – less is more, but for touching your device.

It’s become a seductive angle of attack, largely because of how bluntly logical it sounds. While such a straightforward argument can seem indisputable, I think its use in design critique is too isolated to have any corrective merit.

Tap count is not inherently a problem, nor is it a meaningful signal for the strength of a flow. A terribly confusing 2-tap flow is worse than an ingeniously clear 5-tap flow. The success of each flow has nothing to do with how many times the user touched their device.

That said, the spirit of the argument is usually on point, which is that something about a flow feels too complicated. But if that’s the problem, the way to critique it is not to count taps. The problem lies elsewhere and a helpful critique would identify the root cause of the complexity.

So if someone starts counting taps on you, gently ask them to clarify their grievances beyond simple maths.

(This has all been pretty well-covered in the field, but I wanted to make that Count Van Count GIF and writing this post seemed like the easiest way to justify its creation.)