The Paralysis of Choice and How to Improve Sales and Customer Satisfaction

Implications for Web Designers and Programmers

The Paralysis of Choice and How to Improve Sales and Customer Satisfaction

by Christopher Heng,

Some time ago, Barry Schwatz gave a talk on "The Paralysis of Choice: Why More is Less" (dealing with the same material as his book, The Paradox of Choice). The talk was illuminating in that it dispels some myths about providing choices to customers. While the lecture was a general one on how providing choices affect decision-making and sales, the general principles also apply to a web designer/programmer making a website.

Some General Principles on Providing Choices

Before I mention how the presentation impacts the webmaster and programmer, let me briefly summarize some of the salient points from that talk. Note that what follows is my own interpretation of his message, with my own words and clarifications, based on a vague memory of a video of the talk and coloured by my experience running It is by no means a comprehensive summary but merely a distillation of the points pertinent to this discussion.

Presenting Visitors and Users with Choices: A Webmaster's and Programmer's Perspective

How do Schwatz's points, which are derived from the brick and mortar world, translate to the virtual world of the web? The points below are my own take on how we can use those principles to design a website that increases sales and end-user satisfaction. Note that many of the points below also apply in some part to the design of software, both online software, like web applications, and offline programs, like those that run on your computer at home. Hence they also apply to the programmer.

Conclusion: Making More from Less

When confronted with too many choices, people are often crippled by the large number of variables they have to juggle to make a decision. Using some of the tips given in this article, webmasters and programmers can make their site/software more usable, improve customer satisfaction and perhaps even increase sales by avoiding this paralysis of choice.

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Copyright © 2007-2019 by Christopher Heng. All rights reserved.
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