Have you ever experienced the inability to make decisions due to over-thinking a problem?
The best example is when you go shopping, and choices are more than you think. There is a famous experiment conducted at Columbia University with the same jam. The team set up a booth of jam samples and switched it between 24 jams to 6 jams every hour. They observed that for 24 types of jam, 60% of shoppers stopped to get a jam sample, but only 3% became their customers, in contrast, 40%, shoppers stopped at the booth having six types of jam and got 30% of customers buying.
The study says that a lot of options attract more shoppers, but only a few of them choose to be the customer. It’s the same everywhere, whether you buy online or offline, multiple choices will overwhelm the customers where are just enough options lead to a good sale.
What is Hick’s law?
Named after a team of British and American psychologists Hick and Hyman, Hickl Law states that the time taken for a decision increases with the complexity and number of choices. If the users are bombarded with multiple items to choose, interpret or decide then it’s a waste of their time and a loss to you.
Hick’s law is used everywhere, with the KISS principle (keep it short and simple), it is been in use since the 1960s in washing machines or microwaves and the U.S navy. From a food menu to the list displayed on the web pages, items are carefully crafted to allow customers to choose with ease. In UX designing the Hick’s law is not used in isolation but with other design principles, as it works effectively to minimize the options or choices.
Sometimes there is no option to apply Hick’s law. As seen in a DSLR camera, the operating options are more than the camera on a smartphone. Here the objective is to simplify the process of decision-making and not to eliminate it.
Why it’s important for success:
As we design websites or apps, display limited functions. The landing page is usually a make or breaks for the company, so this page is crafted well and neatly.
How to apply Hick’s Law?
As increasing the number of choices will increase the decision time logarithmically, it’s wise to allow your customers to be choosy about choosing your products. Here are common methods used to apply Hick’s law.
1) Card sorting:
Card sorting is a research method used by UX designers information architects, and other professionals to help understand how users view categorize and label content, a useful way to get valuable feedback from your users fast. The discrete elements are written down that need to be organized onto cars and ask customers to collect them into groups that make sense to them. This helps UX professionals structure content that is easy to navigate which is one large component of creating a successful information architecture. The process of organizing content is fraught with questions about what group or element category should this element be placed. Card sorting will help you answer these questions, and here are some specific examples like, classifying the products in an e-commerce store or organizing questions in an FAQ section, or untangling a complex sitemap.
One of the great things about card sorting is it doesn’t need to be confined to strictly client projects. Card sorting solves internal problems like folder structure, or how to prepare an upcoming business presentation. Ultimately card storing is a group exercise to help you establish the best way to structure your website for much larger scale websites. A good solid structure and navigation are crucial for a good user experience, and card sorting will help you do this.
2) Divide the process:
Instead of reducing the choices you can also divide and redivide the data, such as in social media where the updates are updated as posts, writeup, stories, and photos. This provides limited choices and increases interaction time with the users., The categorical arrangements like travel, animals, shops, cooking shifts the user’s focus on choices. This increases the users spending time as it gives an unlimited choice with limited posts one at a time. This seems to be progressive disclosure
3) Carefully designed information architecture IA is key:
IA is the science of organizing and structuring content in a logical user-friendly way. If you are designing a website or app, IA has a huge impact on how easy it is to navigate. If you were to create a great user experience, you’ll need principles of IA defining the following question
- What information should go where?
- Which elements are most important and should be given priority?
Good IA contributes to a positive user experience as consumers we’re accustomed to finding exactly what we need quickly and easily. IA needs to be logical and user-friendly. It structures each page in a way that makes it easier for the user to achieve that goal. When defining the information architecture, it is important to think about different types of users and how they will navigate using search and filters. For example, e-commerce websites displaying their brands and items, IA should accommodate different user needs helping the customer to reach their desired destination as quickly and seamlessly. Overall navigation is also considered, so the user moves from one page to another in a logical way.
The IA is designed by considering the companies goals, user goals, competitor analysis, and content.
4) Make the most important options stand out:
Hide the options only for expert users/edge cases and most important. To speed up the selection process, let the necessary information stand out.
Hick’s law is applied to minimize the choice when the response times are short. To reduce the options to decrease the cognitive load by breaking complex tasks into smaller steps. Highlight recommended options to avoid overwhelming users. Minimize cognitive load by using progressive disclosure or onboarding, but be careful, so avoid simplification until abstraction.