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… :)