Too many options is not always good

June 18, 2021


Table of contents

Quick Access

This week I was investigating about how to improve user experience of website users. The first thing that may come to the mind is choosing the right font, finding a great color contrast between the elements, calculate margins and paddings, and every aesthetic aspect to make the website pleasing to the eye, but reality is that it’s more than pixels. Its important that the website is designed to make the user’s life easier: Can the users find easily the information they need? Can the users find the button they need to press? Can the users easily understand what’s the website about? Its critical to think and design with these factors at hand, but we forget something important: Will the visitor press the button we want him/her to press? Will the visitor read we want him/her to read? Will he understand the site structure? There is more to be done than just design with a great color balance and well written texts. The user has to be guided. I found a conclusion of a study that caught my attention: If people have too many options to choose from they wont choose any at all. The study that was lead by Sheena Iyengar, PhD in 2000 investigated if the amount of options that people can choose from will affect their decision and the process of buying. In a market she placed two tables: one with just 6 cans of different flavors of jelly and the other table with 24 cans. She measured how many people approached the tables and how many people bought any of them. The results: a 30% of the people that approached the table of 6 cans bought jelly versus just a 3% of the people that approached the other table. The video of her presentation at TED is at the links at the bottom if you want to watch it. If you ask anyone if they want several options, they will always tell you they want them, but too much options will freeze them. So how can we apply this knowledge to the sites we design? Quick example: pricing tables. I’ll show you just 3 quick examples: Notable  Although there are 5 options, the 3rd option carries all the enphasis: white background, thick orange border and the slight shadow draws the attention of the visitor. Typepad  The color, shadows and the fact that it says Our Most Popular Plan right on top, are guide enough to catch the visitors attention. Formstack  The contrast and colors of the Professional plan stand out at plain sight. These advices aren't limited to a price table; it can be used and adapted all over the website in situations where the visitor has to take a decision: registry button, social media links, newsletter subscriptions, etc. Hope this article can be helpful, leave any comments if you have a doubt or want to discuss this further. Sources: Sheena Iyengar's Study: Sheena Iyengar on the Art of Choosing Images Showcase of 40 Pricing tables and signup pages