The Paradox of Choice

The Paradox of ChoiceThere I was at the grocery store, with “salad dressing” on my shopping list – no brand in particular, no price point in mind, just “salad dressing.” I get to the aisle, admire the sheer number of choices, and just stand there, staring at them for, like, ever.

I used to think I was the weirdest person for behaving this way, until I learned about the gourmet jam study by Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper. One day, they placed samples of 24 varieties of gourmet jam on a table in front of a grocery store. The next, only six. Logic would suggest that the first day would yield better sales results, but much to everyone’s surprise, those who only sampled six varieties were more likely to buy.

Conclusion: offering many choices doesn’t mean someone will actually choose.

Which is why more and more companies are paring down their main navigation menus (revealing second tier links only after a hover or tap), and why others are stripping away anything that interferes with their intended call to action. It’s also why you hardly see links to About and FAQ pages in a top nav anymore, unless it’s vital to an organization’s user experience.

So what’s next for you? Unfortunately, I can’t reveal an entire workflow on information architecture at this moment, but I can say, in general, no more than five items in your main nav (tuck sub nav items into drop down menus), one call to action on your landing, and place any links that are not vital, but still need to be there, in your footer.

Oh, and no more than five pricing levels/packages for your digital product offering ;)

To your digital success,

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The Paradox of Choice by Ofer Deshe, used with permission under a Creative Commons license.