August 28th, 2006
Watching people shop online for digital cameras online is quite interesting. Every site has a ton of little silver boxes to choose from and shoppers have no clue where to start. They had hoped the site would provide some sort of advice as to which camera was going to be best for them. The site never did.
Interestingly, we noticed the sites with the fewest choices seemed to make the shoppers the happiest. We thought taking away choice would upset them, but it had the opposite effect.
Our experience watching the shoppers matches exactly what Barry Schwartz wrote in his landmark book, “The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less.” His research, as the Dorwin Cartwright Professor of Social Theory and Social Action at Swarthmore College, has shown that choice overload is a real problem. He’s shown how more choices can be detrimental to our psychological and emotional well-being.
As designers, we really need to understand how choice affects our users. We can make designs that give users all the options, or we can create designs that limit choices and guide users to success. What will work best for our users?
We think choice overload is so important, we’ve invited Barry to be the User Interface 11 Conference Spotlight Presenter. We’re thrilled he’ll be sharing his work at our conference and I think it’s going to be enlightening to everyone.
Recently, I had the opportunity to talk to Barry about his work. He and I talked about his research techniques, the experience of choice overload, and what designers can do about it.Tweet