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Does Your Website Suffer from Choice Overload?


Doesn’t it feel like our lives are just an endless string of choices?

You go to the store and there is literally an entire aisle dedicated to just pizza. After a long day you go home and Netflix gives you hundreds of movie titles to choose from. Decisions. Decisions.

With so many choices, we have become paralyzed with the process of weighing options. This is the brain’s response to having too many choices.

it's too much gif

Are your website user’s feeling this way when they’re viewing your website? Read on to find out.

What is Choice Overload?

Choice overload (a.k.a. decision fatigue) occurs when having too many choices overloads our brain and paralyzes us from making a decision. That’s why too many choices can quickly overwhelm users — causing your conversion rates to plummet.

Hick’s Law states that the more choices an individual has, the longer they will take to make a decision.

Hick's Law Diagram

Hick’s Law Diagram

Wait, aren’t more choices better?

More options means users will be more likely to find what they want, right?
Not necessarily. Although people like choices, they can easily become overwhelmed by them.

Researchers from Columbia University ran an experiment that perfectly demonstrated the “too many choices” dilemma.

  • On day one, shoppers were offered 24 different types of jam.
  • On day two, shoppers were offered only 6.
  • The shoppers who had been offered 6 types of jam were 10 times more likely to make a purchase.
  • Having a larger selection of options reduced the shopper’s ability to make a choice. Ultimately many went with the simplest option — not to buy any jam at all.

Contrary to expectations, the reduction in choice meant significantly more sales. This proved that more is NOT always better.

What the heck does this have to do with my website?

Choice overload is a big deal for website owners who rely on conversions. If your website requires a user to take action (make a purchase, get in touch, subscribe to your newsletter, etc.) your users are affected by choice overload.

If you give your website visitors too many choices, they will either:

  • Make a poor decision (resulting in buyer’s remorse and higher return rates)
  • Make no decision at all (reducing your conversion rate)

How do I lessen choice overload on my website?

Fight against choice overload with a K.I.S.S. (keep it simple, stupid). Simplicity is key. Boost conversions by limiting the different choices you offer.

simplicity wins over abundance of choice

Here are some tips:

  • Have no more than 7 top-level menu items
  • Limit form fields
  • Focus on one consistent call to action
  • Display social buttons only for ones you’re active on
  • Simplify pages to focus on one or two goals
  • Limit promotions to 1 or 2 at a time
  • Categorize similar sections of content together
  • Make sure the difference between options is obvious
  • Provide product filters and sorting options (for online stores)

The Takeaway

When presented with too many choices, user’s have a harder time making a decision. Just like having too many jams in a grocery store, it may cause your users (aka customers) to not make a choice at all. You want to avoid this!

Review your website and implement our tips mentioned above to reduce choice overload and encourage higher conversion rates.

Twingenuity Graphics Web & Graphic Design Blog

Hey, we're Brittany and Ashley the co-owners of Twingenuity Graphics, a small design studio. We opened our virtual doors in 2015 to businesses across the globe, providing creative direction for each unique brand. Our business is rooted in family, faith, friendship and meaningful experiences. We help you find that special something about your business and then celebrate it. It's why we do, what we do!



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