Principles of Design #28 – Hick’s Law

Aug 31 2011 Published by Neil Gains under design

Tired of too much choice?

In the last post I wrote about the effects of decision fatigue, and its bad effect on the quality of decisions that we make in life. ┬áHick’s Law is a common principle of design, and is the design consequence that the time it takes to make a decision increases as the number of alternatives increase (a common sight in today’s retail landscape). The law itself is used to estimate the time it will take someone to make a decision when presented with multiple options. Although this has everyday consequences, outlined clearly and sympathetically in Barry Schwartz’s The Paradox of Choice, it also has very serious consequences in emergency situations. For example, when a pilot has to press a particular button in response to an event, then the decision to select the correct button will take longer when there are more options. Read more »

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