The Impact of Choices on Your Website

Tags: choice paralysischoiceswebsite choices

Less Jam was the Answer

In 2000, psychologists Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper published a remarkable study. At a special display, shoppers at an upscale food market were offered 24 varieties of jam. Those who sampled the jam would receive a coupon for $1 off the price. At the same location at a different time, shoppers were offered just 6 different varieties. The larger display attracted more people, but when it came time to purchase only 3% bought jam, whereas 30% of the people at the smaller display made a purchase. TEN TIMES more people made a purchase when they had less jam varieties to choose from.

Many people were intrigued by this study, but probably the most interesting studies came from Barry Schwartz, author of “The Paradox of Choice.”  People love choices, the more choices the better. When offered more choices, people say they are happier and feel like they have more control. “But,” says Schwartz, “having too many options comes with its trade-offs.”

Decision Fatigue

Choosing between too many options can cause decision fatigue. When we’re given too much choice, we’re less happy with the final choice we make – because we’re still wondering if we made the right decision.

Choice Paralysis

When there are multiple alternatives, Schwartz says, it’s also easy for us to imagine alternatives that don’t actually exist. We end up creating greater expectations than we could possibly meet. So between the number of current choices along with a multitude of imagined choices, we tell ourselves there may be better choices somewhere else. We know we would feel bad about making the wrong choice, so we simply decide not to make any choice at all. This is known as “choice paralysis”.

What does this have to do with my website?
  Focus on the user experience (UX)

Limit choices to what is most important. Make it easy for your visitor to find what they need. If your business offers a lot of choices for the buyer, offer a filtering option so your user can easily find what they are looking for. Display “buy” and “contact” buttons prominently.

   Keep it simple

Declutter. Keep choices to a minimum. Get rid of distractions. If there are items along the top, bottom or in the sidebar that don’t direct the user to your products or services, get rid of them. That weather widget is not going to get you a sale.

   Repeat the important stuff

If you are leading your visitor to a specific destination, repeat the information on several pages. It often takes several “reminders” to get a visitor to make a choice.

    Use white space

Insert breathing space between sections of your web page. This signals the brain that you are looking at different information. 

   Check the numbers

Check your website analytics results to see which pages are visited the most frequently. You may be surprised to discover that your Staff Page is getting more visits than your Contact Page. This information can also help you place your Call-to-Action items on the best pages.

What about my email campaign?

Keep in mind these same points as you do for your website, but even more extreme. It is best to keep your promotional emails to a single topic. Are you having a sale or introducing a new product or service? Then that is what the email is about, just that one subject. Keep it simple with an obvious link so your customer can easily learn more and make a purchase.

“Here Comes the Sun”
High School Spring Concert
Saturday, May 30th
7pm at the Lakeland Auditorium
3456 Flores Boulevard, Lakeland, WI 55555
Get reduced price tickets in advance!
Contact Joan Smith for more information, 920-888-6666.

And my digital advertising?

This would be the same as email, but contain even less text. Choose the best phrase that summarizes your message. Keep it short and to the point. 

High School Spring Concert
Saturday, May 30th
7pm at the Lakeland Auditorium
(The entire ad links to Ticket Purchase page)

The Geeks & Creatives at wisnet can help

We can offer suggestions to improve your site, email, and digital advertising so your visitors can make the best choices.

Additional Resources:

20 minute Ted Talk by Barry Schwartz

A great summary of Schwartz’s study.