Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Paradox of Choice: An Interview with Barry Schwartz

About the number of options you should give an eCommerce user ...

"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?"   (Continued via UIE Brain Sparks)   [Usability Resources]

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