10. Limit Choices to Help Shoppers Decide
Barry Schwartz, an American psychologist and author of The Paradox of Choice, mentions in a TED talk that “… some choice is better than none. But it doesn’t follow that more choices is better than some choice.”
In e-commerce, too many choices lead to decision paralysis – it can cause the potential customer to put off the task for another time.
There are a few things you can do to avoid adding to the visitor’s cognitive load and help them pick an option faster.
What You Can Do
- Present a few top-level categories. Instead of trying to minimize the number of clicks required to get to a product page, optimize to make each click easy. Go narrow and deep, instead of broad and shallow – five painless clicks will beat three difficult clicks every time.
- Ensure visitors can detect “information scent”. The limited number of categories that you display should meet visitor expectations after a click.
- Highlight product distinctions, so visitors can immediately tell what makes a product different from the others.
- Visually bias users to the option you want them to pick. You can manipulate visual emphasis through the size, callouts, color contrast, and display order.
As an example, let’s take a look at how American Eagle makes it easier for shoppers to pick a pair of jeans:
Amercian Eagle’s “Women’s Jeans” category page (left) and “Mom Jeans” sub-category page (right).
Instead of simply presenting all available products on the category page, American Eagle helps shoppers choose. This is done through a wizard-like experience that narrows down the shopper’s options based on their preferred fit, rise, etc.
This helps avoid overwhelming shoppers with choice. For instance, their “Women’s Jeans” category page presents visual navigation for different types of jeans like mom jeans, jegging, and high-waisted jeans. When the shopper clicks on “Mom Jeans”, for example, they’re taken to a sub-category page where they’re shown another visual navigation element, this time with different types of mom jeans.
Making decisions tires the brain. Be deliberate about how you show choices using your information architecture and web design.
Learn more about helping potential customers make a decision. Read “Simplifying Choices for the Brain to Improve Conversions”.