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Hick’s Law – Decision Making Simplified

What is Hick’s Law? And how you can predict the decision-making time.

You are sitting with your friends at a restaurant after a busy day at work. Due to the workload, you missed lunch, and now you are super hungry. However, your friends are taking too long to decide what to order because there are so many scrumptious options. That is just one simple example of how the number of options affects the decision-making process.

Hick’s law perfectly describes this equation

– the more choices you have, the longer you will take to make a decision. The law predicts that decision-making time increases with an increase in options.

The many options often confuse the person and make the process more complicated. Therefore, it is imperative to provide the user with minimum choices, particularly when the response time is critical.

Hick's Law Chart

Hick’s Law Chart

Hick’s Law in the Designers’ World

Do you know users stick around a website for no less than 15 seconds? A website with too many options or complex user navigation often drives visitors away. That’s where we use Hick’s law to minimize (read simplify) the choices and speed up the decision making.

If you don’t want the user to leave you, the rule is to Keep It Short and Simple – KISS. When you have so much to deal with, designing your campaign or website is the last thing you would want. Well, Lunatix – The UX Agency is at your service.

Complexity leads to Confusion

Keep It Short and Simple – KISS

Complex web layouts infuriate the users; the trick is to provide the set of options that cater to the users’ needs. The attempt to cram too many functions into an app or site often results in a failure. While designing the website, it is important to understand how the functions will affect the users’ decision-making approach.
The landing page is the face of a website; Hick’s law helps to create a good first impression of your site. Instead of filling up the page with too much information, the focus must be on introducing the company and highlighting your product or service.
A picture speaks a thousand words; a well-placed image on the landing page will draw the users’ attention. In addition, highlighting the option you want the users to select makes the choice easier. It directs the users to the next move.

Categorizing the Choices Ensures Smooth User Experience

Hick’s law is crucial to ensure high-quality user experience; the law helps in breaking down the huge amount of information. When working on a design, it is important to remember:

• The user’s time is valuable
• You cannot force a user to stay on your site

The best way to make the selection easier for the users is to categorize the choices. Offering direct access to multiple links within a site makes the experience overwhelming. In addition, it will take several hours to scroll through a menu, jumping from one link to another. Categorizing the choices in sub-menu helps users to select the right option.

Break the Complexity to Help Users in Making Prompt Decisions

Can't Decide?

Can’t Decide?

Hick’s law comes into action when you have a complex process for the user; it helps to obscure complexity. For instance, instead of intimidating the users with long payment process, an effective designer will break the steps into multiple screens with fewer options.

This encourages the user to take prompt actions in less time. Not to mention, the smooth user experience drives the users to revisit your website. However, oversimplification or breaking the information into many small segments can also compel the user to leave the site rather than following the steps.

Hick’s law is the guiding principle for website designers; you can find the application of this rule in almost every user-friendly website. Striking a balance between the users’ time and comfort for handling the multiple options is tricky. Designing is a skill and it is better to hire experts to do the job.

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