What is 80/20 rule?

The 80–20 rule (also known as the Pareto principle) states that for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

This principle is true in many cases,

  • 80 percent of a product’s usage involves 20 percent of its features.
  • 80 percent of a town’s traffic is on 20 percent of its roads.
  • 80 percent of a company’s revenue comes from 20 percent of its products.
  • 80 percent of innovation comes from 20 percent of the people.
  • 80 percent of progress comes from 20 percent of the effort.
  • 80 percent of errors are caused by 20 percent of the components.

It is clear that 80 percent of the effects in a system are generated by 20 percent of its variables. We can use this to prioritize our design efforts. The ratio can change and does not need to be 80–20 even if the rule is more like 70/30 or 90/10. It’s not the actual percentage we have to find that causes which bring in the maximum effort.

To find this 20 percent features and elements which give maximum actions or sales web analytics comes in handy. Close analysis of these data from the website will show us the most profitable areas of functionality.

Some examples where we can apply 80/20 rule are,

  • Deciding the top options in an element like a drop-down list, for instance, frequently used options will be stored on the top of the list.
  • Similarly for deciding the default option in elements.
  • Choosing the important features to be displayed on the mobile site. We can concentrate on the 20 percent of the features which yield 80 percent of the result.

Optimising our websites with 80/20 rule yields effectiveness in buying a product, subscribing, opting-in or registering for a service.

Before we implement 80/20 Rule in the websites, there is one thing that we must remember. That is not to overdo the 80/20 rule. If we completely ignore 80% of what is on the website, this could have a bad impact on user experience. Sometimes it is important for the visitors to have enough access to the information that matters to them.

We should focus on the 20% of our website that is most profitable, By trying out a few different experiments and monitoring the results, we will be able to create a plan for the optimizing website that still contains what matters to our visitors.

We should keep in mind that while applying 80/20 rule in our web design, we are losing only the elements that are slowing down user interaction in our interface. As a result, the website performs better and help us achieving the ultimate goal.

Not only in web design we can also apply 80/20 rule in other aspects of the cycle such as customer service (Identify the cause of a problem), marketing (Spending on the right marketing methods) and sales (Investing in profitable sales channel or Customers who bring more business). Even to increase our productivity (Identifying the root cause for the inefficiency).

This blog post is part of my study on Universal Principles in Design, more design principle and their application in web design to follow.

Thank you.

User Experience Designer and Product Enthusiast. Enabling teams to strategize and build human-centered experiences. Currently designing experiences for emerging

User Experience Designer and Product Enthusiast. Enabling teams to strategize and build human-centered experiences. Currently designing experiences for emerging