Why less is more, and more means less people making purchases

We all know that visitors to your website are notoriously impatient. Depending on who you ask, you have somewhere between 6-20 seconds [source www.nngroup.com/articles/how-long-do-users-stay-on-web-pages/ ] to communicate the purpose of the site and present the correct path for them to follow. They will stay longer on a page that has the information they’re looking for, but they won’t spend much time searching your site for that information.  Depending on the complexity of the task users will happily make more interactions to achieve their goal, but should choosing a room or a special deal be a complex task?

Internet users don’t like to read content online. In fact a study by Dr. Jacob Nielsen shows that people only read up to 28% of the text on a page. In most cases that figure was only 20%. The study also showed that the more content that was on the page, the less likely the user was to read it. This is shown in the graph attached.

This behaviour also presents itself when we give a user too many choices. Hick’s law [ en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hick%27s_law ] states that the more decisions you present, the longer it takes to make a decision. Also as decision time increases, user experience and satisfaction is negatively impacted. 

Sheena Iyengar from Columbia University conducted an experiment where over two consecutive weeks some research assistants offered samples of Jam outside an upscale grocery store in California. In one instance they offered 24 jams to sample and in another they offered 6. 60% of people stopped to try the 24 jams and only 40% of people stopped to try 6. It seems like we should say “Great, let’s provide every option we have for the user”. However when it came to purchasing, only 3% of customers who sampled 24 jams made a purchase, but 30% of customers given only 6 choices went on to purchase. [ faculty.washington.edu/jdb/345/345%20Articles/Iyengar%20%26%20Lepper%20(2000).pdf

Users faced with too many decisions suffer from the paralysis of choice. If they face too many options they are much more likely to not actually make a choice at all. In some cases this is unavoidable, as you need to showcase all of your room types and there has to be a way for a site visitor to view all available offers and promotions, but that doesn’t mean you should cram them in to every box on your home page, or promotion in your site banner. If you want a visitor to choose an option and ultimately make a purchase (of course you do), you should provide a limited number of options for them to choose from.

When presenting featured options to a site visitor (as opposed to a page specifically showing all available options), limit the number the user has to decide between to 3-5. Any more than this and you are increasing cognitive load, negatively impacting the user experience and reducing sales.

Why less is more, and more means less people making purchases