How to Make Choosing Easier

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Is there such a thing as too much of a good thing? In this TED Talk, psycho-economist Sheena Iyengar discusses choice overload in today’s sometimes overwhelming customer experience, and offers techniques you can apply now to make choosing easier for your users.

In the speech, Iyengar highlights a survey she gave to over 2,000 people, which determined that the average person makes 70 choices a day. She also shares that in another study on the decision-making process of CEOs, the average CEO spends just nine minutes or less on half of their decisions, with only 12 percent of their decisions taking up an hour or more of their time.

That being said, do you ever wonder how much time your visitors spend on making purchase decisions? Or what you could do to help customers and potential customers have a better choosing experience?

In this talk, Iyengar touches on her well-known “jam study,” which quantified that oftentimes when presented with too many choices, people tend not to choose anything. She shares four researched and tested techniques that can help make choosing easier for your users:

Cut This technique suggests that less is more. Though, Iyengar says, people tend to get upset when they hear “Cut,” she insists that getting rid of redundant options leads to an increase in sales,  lower of cost and an improved choosing experience. Concretization By Concretization, Iyengar says that in order for people to understand the differences between their choices, they must understand the consequences associated with each potential choice — and that those consequences must be felt in a very concrete way.

Categorization In her third technique, Iyengar suggests that people can handle more product categories better than actual product choices. She gives an example involving magazines: If customers are shown 600 magazines divided into 10 categories versus 400 magazines divided into 20 categories, the latter translates into a better choosing experience.

Condition for Complexity The fourth and final technique describes Iyengar’s belief that people can handle a lot of information, but that it’s more beneficial — and easier to measure customer engagement — when the complexity of choices is gradually increased.

With this in mind, how could you apply some of the principles discussed in the video to your business? Do you agree or disagree with Iyengar’s take on making choosing easier? Please feel free to leave any thoughts in the comment section below.