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Hick's Law in User Experience Design: More not always merrier.

Updated: Jan 1

A person staring at a wide variety of drink options at a store, not able to chose one.

Have you ever been overwhelmed by the endless choices while shopping, ultimately leaving in frustration without buying? Or worse, buying something you didn't want in the first place. Perhaps you've been stuck in front of a restaurant menu with so many options that you couldn't decide what to order? If you've experienced this, you've encountered Hick's Law in action – and it's a crucial principle in the world of user experience design.

Hick's Law in a Nutshell

William Edmund Hick's wisdom boils down to this: the more options you have, the longer it takes to make a decision. In the UX world, understanding and applying Hick's Law can lead to designs that are user-friendly and reduce decision fatigue.

Here's how Hick's Law can be applied effectively to your designs.

1. Limit Menu Choices

A person using the bottom navigation bars on an app.

If your design uses menu structures, minimize the number of options available at each level. Use clear and concise labels to guide users efficiently. Dropdown menus and hierarchical navigation can help prevent overwhelming users with too many choices at once.

2. Curated Recommendations

A music player app providing personalized recommendations for its user.

Offer personalized recommendations based on user preferences for content-heavy platforms like streaming services or e-commerce websites. Reduce the number of choices by presenting tailored content options, which can lead to quicker decisions.

3. Progressive Disclosure

A sign up form that asks for just the necessary info before asking the user for more details.

When designing forms, start with essential fields and progressively reveal additional options. This way, users can focus on the immediate task without feeling overwhelmed by a long list of input fields. Progressive disclosure can be very useful when you are trying to design an onboarding process for your product.

4. Prioritize Information

An weather app dashboard with the most important information like temperature and air quality at the top, water and noise  pollution indices below, and traffic data at the very bottom. All prioritized according to what the user uses most.

Arrange elements on the interface based on their importance or frequency of use. More critical elements should be more accessible and prominent, while less important ones can be less conspicuous.

In Sum: Keep it Simple

Hick's Law isn't rocket science; it's about simplifying. Less choice, less headache, more delight. Whether it's a tidy app layout, personalized tips, or decluttered search results, products designed with Hick's Law in mind keep users happy and engaged.

More isn't always merrier.


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