Transcript from the "Simplifying Choice" Lesson
>> Another thing that is a really important is about simplifying not just, we've talked about the need for simplification a lot. We've talked about it in terms of reducing cognitive load. We're gonna talk about it again in terms of designing an interface. We've talked about it in terms of keeping our copy concise and simple.
[00:00:23] But there's also something to be said for simplifying the choices that you put in front of people. And actually somebody in the chat room touched upon this when they were talking about Apple and the complexity of offerings that they had at one stage, it's now a lot simpler than it was.
[00:00:42] And this is a really interesting scenario. One of the big mistakes that I find that people make when they're asking people to act, is they ask them to do too many things, right? And again, we're gonna come on to this more later. But we want you to buy our product, sign up for our newsletter, get in touch, follow us on social media.
[00:01:08] All of these different things, they're all competing for people's attention. And that's just on the website, and then there's people's product line ups. Where they have, loads of different products that are all competing for attention, or loads of different offerings. And actually there's a need to kind of simplify what you present to users so that you don't overwhelm them.
[00:01:35] Because what happens is they get paralyzed with choice, choice paralysis. There was a famous study that was done in California in a supermarket with preserves, jams. If you're British, we call them jam, but everybody else calls them preserves. And what they did is they tried, first of all, they had a whole variety of different jams.
[00:01:59] I think it was over 30 varieties of jams for people to buy in the supermarket. And then a week or so later they changed that so there was just six varieties of jam. Now if you ask an individual do they want more choice? They will always say yes, of course.
[00:02:16] But in truth, the 6 jams outsold the 30 several times over, because people were overwhelmed with 30 different choices of jam. And this idea of simplifying the options to avoid choice paralysis is really important. And it applies to everything we do from the number of navigation items, the number of e-commerce categories, to even the number of products and calls to action that you have.
[00:02:41] And actually Apple is one of the best examples of this. There was a period of time when Steve Jobs wasn't running Apple, and in that time their product lineup exploded. And they ended up with a whole number of different products and it was overwhelmingly confusing to know which product suited you.
[00:03:03] But when Steve Jobs came back into the company, one of the first things he did on a whiteboard was draw something like this. Where he basically identified his two audiences and his two use cases. And then he associated one product with each. So he radically simplified the lineup of products that they had so that users knew what they wanted ,what they needed, what was right for their situation.
[00:03:32] And actually increasingly that's becoming a problem again in Apple, that they are adding more and more products. So for example when I wanted a lightweight device for me traveling to conferences and doing presentations like this one, do I get the MacBook Air or the MacBook? Or the iPad and which size do I need?
[00:03:55] And should I actually go for a MacBook Pro? There were so many options that actually it was overwhelming for a long time I didn't buy anything. So what this comes down to especially when it comes to calls to action, is to simplify the question effectively. The question is, what should I buy?
[00:04:17] What action should I take? And the more you simplify that, the easier people are gonna find it to act. You remember earlier on I talked about that when we're presented with a difficult question, we tend to just give up and guess. Or the other thing we do is just abandon and don't try and answer that question at all.
[00:04:41] So this applies not just to your product lineups, but actually even to the wording that you have for things like calls to action. Let me explain what I mean. So I did some work with UNICEF, and on their donation page they had this, make a donation. Now when you're faced with a call to action like that, that's quite a hard call to action to make a decision over, right?
[00:05:09] So because the question that goes alongside that, is UNICEF the most worthy charity of my donation, right? And that's quite a complicated question to answer in your mind. Because where there's lots of different charities, what causes do I care about the most, how much can I afford and all of these kinds of different things that go alongside that.
[00:05:35] So that's a big decision to make when it comes to that and people often choke. If you could look at the number of people that go to donation pages across all charity websites and you find the conversion rate is very, very low even though they've clicked through to a donations page.
[00:05:53] However if you reword that slightly to donate to end the suffering of children, you're effectively simplifying the question in people's minds, from, is UNICEF the best charity to give to, to do I wanna reduce the suffering of children, which is a kinda no-brainer really. So it's focusing people on the key point here, right?
[00:06:14] Instead of the question being, what's the best charity to give to, the question is you can help end suffering of children. Now again you need to be a little bit careful, because some people might find that emotional blackmail, right? Saying donate to end the suffering of children, especially if it read something like, do I want to reduce the suffering of children.
[00:06:36] It could be emotional blackmail and so you need to be careful with your audience and see how they respond to it. But the principle of taking something complex and simplifying it down so it's easily understandable needs to underpin all of our content.