Elements of UX: Hicks Law

Elements of User Experience series:
“Hicks Law”


Hicks Law: the time required to make a decision increases, with the additional number of alternatives you are presented with”


The principle is: a) you are presented with a task / goal / issue, b) you analyse the situation, judge your options to achieve the given task c) you make a decision / choose an option d) you apply / execute your decision.
In this context Hick’s law predicts (algorithmically) that the more alternatives you provide users with the harder you are making things for them. You should aim at presenting users with only the options they require to achieve the task.

Context in UX

In a moderately complex to simple situations like with a website design Hick’s law can be an interesting principle to check. Do you really need all that content / all those options / all those images to help the user achieve their goal? As explained in further detail by Smashingmagazine,  it usually makes sense to “take a step back” and think of your project in general rather than applying this principle religiously to each sub part and element of the overall structure one by one. Consider the user journey, the objectives and via testing if necessary clarify that certain elements are not superfluous.

Hick's Law

Hick’s Law

Kindle sales are up the day after Apple’s Mini launch

Most people expected that the launch of Apple’s mini thingy would put Amazon in a really difficult position. However it seems on the contrary Amazon sales are up and went up soon after the announcement from Apple. Could that be people that realised that the Amazon offer was a) from a hardware point of view more interesting and b) paying a fixed amount to consume all you want in terms of films, series an music was better than just giving money to Apple?
Probably !

Fox News caught falsifying footage

Over at the great Huffington Post is an article about how Jon Stewart explains in his traditional humorous fashion how Fox News falsified footage (unbelievable of course ;) ), to give people the impression that a GOP rally was far bigger than it actually was.

Love the ending with Comedy Central’s own version also using unrelated footage! :)

Ken on Ogilvy

So I came across this article about the book Ken Roman has just published about David Ogilvy. Ken is a former Ogilvy Chairman. The article describes a book of a guy talking about another guy! At the end the author of the article explains what he would have liked to see in the book:

Part of Ogilvy’s genius was that he understood how advertising after World War II would reflect — and in a sense, replace — the one-on-one salesmanship at which he excelled. Unfortunately, when the nature of the relationship between buyer and seller began to change — that is, when a smile and litany of facts were no longer enough to hold consumer attention — Ogilvy’s work began to suffer as well.

The comments are great though, well worth the read… :)

What is Twitter, according to nightline

Nice piece on Nightline (ABC in the US) that explains what Twitter is, starts funny but then actually gives a good explanation with comments from the founders of Twitter…

It gives you a fairly good basic ‘101’ idea of Twitter. What is a follower, tweeting, a tweet… ;)

Mini Wheats get a mini box

A new box is being tested across the pond (in the US) for both Mini Wheats and Kellogg’s Cornflakes, a mini box that uses 8% less material but still houses the same amount of the product, a mini revolution !

Kellogs cornflakesKellogs miniwheats 18oz

Nescafe, more beans by the millions

I seem to get drawn to all things Nestle since I have started working on the Nestle account. Here is the ‘making of’ the TV advert for Nescafe “More beans, more taste”, followed by the ad:

Web 2.0 for companies

For many, the term web 2.0 is not an easy sell, as it has been used and abused for both defining a way to design things as well as types of community services that really engage people to participate. So when I cam across the McKinsey report about how companies can use web 2.0, I was wondering whether the article was going to make me cringe or not. McKinsey are not really well known for the web. But they are good at business strategy, know how to talk and how to use buzz words etc. The article is called “Six ways to make web 2.0 work” which is not really buzz word style, more short and catchy like you find on the web. A little too sales pitchy for my liking, anyway.

What is interesting is that they talk about ERP, then CRM as the previous types of tools that companies would be interested in using and implementing. This before the web 2.0 tools appeared. They are presenting web 2.0 systems as tools which are going to replace ERP and CRM tools as we know them.

And finishing off the article with a “Keep the conversation going on Twitter” (oh yes they are good with the buzz words)…

The article is well worth reading and provides numerous counter examples to the mainstream web 2.0 approach of “build it and they will come”. I have often found that people who really take time to think a product through, test it and make it work for the final user(s), do succeed in producing great web sites…

The important part of the article covers what McKinsey describes as the 6 recommendations:

1. The transformation to a bottom-up culture needs help from the top.
2. The best uses come from users—but they require help to scale.
3. What’s in the workflow is what gets used.
4. Appeal to the participants’ egos and needs—not just their wallets.
5. The right solution comes from the right participants.
6. Balance the top-down and self-management of risk.

TweetCC: defining usage rights on twitter

Ever seen on flickr how some pictures can be used for non commercial projects and with other photos you need to obtain rights from the owner no matter what. In the same way Andy Clarke and Brian Suda wanted to create a system that allows people to provide such information about their ‘tweets’ on twitter. So now people know with this system, that they can use your tweets and under what conditions…

TweetCC Creative Commons Twitter

Check out TweetCC here

TweetCC even had it’s place on the Wired home page ! Read the article here.

Andy is really passionate about his work and gives 100 percent of himself on his projects. This is just another example and his will to share the great ideas with everyone. I say bravo…

25 years anniversary: Cirque Du Soleil

Once you have been to a Cirque du Soleil show, you just can’t help paying attention whenever they are mentioned from then on…

2009 will be the 25th year of the cirque du soleil and the 25th unique show they have created over the past 25 years. Take a look at their anniversary site.

Cirque Du Soleil 25 years

I had the pleasure of seeing Alegria in New York and spend a few evenings with Cirque du Soleil employees. I can’t remember ever having seen so many people being simply impressed by the simple Cirque du Soleil jackets they were wearing, just to give you an idea of the effect they have once you know and have seen them.

If you ever get the chance to take part in a live performance like the one below you will realise why people talk about them in this way (Montreal Jazz festival, Soleil de Minuit, here):

See also the intro song from Jorane for the Cirque du Soleil show at the same jazz festival show. really gives you that beautiful bohemian, cirque atmosphere: