Chris Owen

Written by Chris Owen

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Limiting choice improves UX - fact!


There's no better place to start than from a clean slate which is why we're going to strip away all the bells and whistles, smoke and mirrors, and highlight how limiting options improves UX.

'Limiting options improves UX' might seem like something of a bizarre statement however, think about your own most recent shopping experiences and then remember whether you wanted to be wowed or whether you just wanted to get from A to B as painlessly as possible.

Learning the basics of UX not only increases your knowledge and understanding of what is becoming a really hot topic but also allows your customers to benefit from great user experiences that have been created from the ground up.

Fundamentally, 'choice' is the key to great UX. Giving your customers options, that they actually understand and identify with is the essence of a satisfying sales experience.

However, too many decisions, too much choice, can sometimes feel way too complicated, slightly overwhelming. A bit like living in London, I'd imagine. Often too many decisions can be a major turn off and creates the opposite experience for a customer that we, and they, were hoping for.

Although there is plenty of expert reasoning and market research results pointing to consumers wanting as many different options as possible, people still get freaked out when they are actually offered infinite freedom. It's a paradox, yes; but is it an irreversible and inevitable cycle? No.

If you're looking to investigate the paradox of choice a little deeper then there's a fantastic book, the Art of Choosing, written by Prof Sheena Lyengar, which helps us to understand why limiting options improves UX across the board.

An example of how limiting options improves UX from the Art of Choosing is as follows:

Consumers were presented with two tables. One was holding 24 different types of jam the other was holding six different types of jam. They were then asked to make a purchase.

Only 3% bought a jam pot from the table holding 24 different types were as 30% bought a pot from the table holding six different types.

Although the sample table with lots of jams attracted more customers it was the equivalent table with less jam that experienced the most sales.

This resulted in the statistic: 75% less choice equals 10 x more sales.

It's results like these that help us to show that limiting options improves UX and too much choice can actually be damaging for conversion rates and overall sales of a product, jam or otherwise.

Now we're jamming...

One of the easiest and most straightforward solutions that stems from consumer tests like these is to limit the amount of options on your sales page and throughout your site.

Limiting options improves UX by not overwhelming customers. There's no other way to put it.

Price ranges also need to be well displayed to ensure a user knows which one best suits them. Make different choices really obvious, clearly defined, and you'll quickly cut down on irritated customers who are getting confused and frustrated because they simply aren't able to clearly focus.

Design will play a huge part in allowing users to see where they're going in a simple and straightforward fashion without overloading them with different paths and tangents. Sticking to tried and tested UX design principles is another key to success and it's this combined with research findings that will lead you and your customers to sales nirvana.

Let subconscious, intuition and basic human psychology be fundamental to how you design your site and try to work towards the mantra of limiting options improves UX and you won't go far wrong. Customers have come to expect certain things from an online sales experience. Don't monkey with their expectations. Give them what they want in the best way you possibly can.

  1. Help users navigate your site by giving them a preordained series of events that reduces cognitive discourse and encourages simplicity over plain and simple showing off.

  2. Colours, incentives and special offers can all be used to direct a user in the right direction.

  3. 'Trial your first month for free' or 'pay per month' are a couple of other ways to sweeten the process and provide a clear and transparent pricing structure to show that you have nothing to hide.

  4. Be brave and be bold. Sing about your prices. Don't make users go and search for them. That's when annoying red lights start to sound.

  5. Calls to action are the same – put them where users would expect to find them and don't have too many on one page otherwise things can get really confusing.

Reducing the time users need to be on your site may seem like a slight snub to search engines however, Google isn't going to be buying your stuff - at the moment of impact - it's your customers that count.

These principles can be applied in numerous areas and steering clear of offering too many services, products, conflicting CTAs, overlapping offers and excessive social media buttons are other examples of how limiting options improves UX.

From your website or app to marketing emails and adverts - limiting options improves UX.

Great user experiences can happen on your website. Get in touch today to find out how a UX audit service and limiting the amount of options can increase your conversion rates and your bottom line.