I’ve just recently came to the conclusion that the main reason I’ve been spending a relatively obscene amount of money in the past year or so is because I’ve started using Instagram. Since I mostly use Instagram to keep track of brands and musicians I like, most of the ads I’m getting involve ongoing promotions on fashion items and upcoming concerts which is great because I love those things but also not great because I’ve been forced to live dangerously close to paycheck-to-paycheck for several months now. Music and shoes are my biggest kryptonite and it appears that Instagram has found my weakness.
Instagram (and a bunch of other companies) is able to do this because they have enough data on me to reasonably predict what I would be into and use that information to drown me in wallet-killing ads. This trick that Instagram employs fall under the general umbrella of anticipatory design, a design philosophy that works by removing users of the burden of the decision-making process, minimizing the possibility of design fatigue from creeping in. Choices, like jalapeño poppers, are only useful in moderation and if you’re looking to succeed as a business, you’d want to get in touch with a Melbourne web designer to put an end to the decision fatigue phenomenon regularly plaguing the public.
Being literally spoiled for choice
I can’t remember when exactly this was but I remember coming home from work and having a little bit of free time, I decided to open up Netflix for something to watch as I’m wont to do. Originally, I wanted to watch a film but backed off because I was afraid that I’m going to be too tired by the 1 hour mark that I won’t be able to finish the rest of the film. So I decided to look for something else, preferably a slight comedy series that wouldn’t take too much of my mental capacity to process the jokes as it was quite a long day at work.
Of course, Netflix being Netflix, there were a lot of options that actually falls under the umbrella, ranging from sitcoms, animated series, Japanese animes, short comedy specials, talk shows and even some reality competitions. I hadn’t even finished considering my options before I started yawning and by the time I figured out what I wanted to watch, Tig Notaro’s comedy special if you’re wondering, I was already too tired from browsing that I simply went to bed instead. Now, try to multiply that by three as I regularly spend too much time on the weekend trying to decide if I want to play one of the hundreds of games available on my Steam library, watch something on Netflix or dig into Marvel’s comics 50+ years of history with Marvel Unlimited.
This decision fatigue is mathematically expressed in Hick’s Law that states that the time it takes for a person to make a decision increases logarithmically the more choices are available. The longer a person has to consider their options, the likelier they are to back off just like what happened with me and Netflix in the example I shared before. It didn’t hurt Netflix financially since I’m already subscribed but it could very well hurt your business unless you could find a way to keep this happening from potential customers. Lucky for you, there are ways you could keep decision fatigue from creeping into your website and here are 4 examples you could try.
Minimize the number of options on your website’s navigation
For most small and niche businesses, this isn’t going to be a problem but for websites serving as an e-commerce platform, this is a bit of an epidemic. In their pursuit of more sales, e-commerce platforms are often guilty of throwing whatever they like on their navigational interface. Use clear and unambiguous labeling on your interface and don’t use multiple menus to promote what is basically the same thing such as putting “Specials” and “Weekly Deals” side-by-side. I’ve seen that last part more than once and if you’re putting several items on sale, simply group them under one menu instead of pointless splitting them up as that can be distracting.
Focus only on one or two promotions at the same time
This is still somewhat related to the point above but one recent experience has compelled me to be especially specific about this one. About a month ago, I was alerted about an ongoing promotion with a fashion brand I’m particularly fond of through Instagram. I visited their website and yep, they are running a promotion, four of them to be exact, and they’re mutually exclusive. You could choose to get 50% off for a second item as long as neither of them are shoes, a free backpack if you buy specific shoes, a free watch when you buy a shirt above a certain price threshold or three pairs of free socks when you buy two pairs of shoes.
It was needlessly convoluted and I end up backing off and just wait for a regular sale to happen because I wasn’t in the mood to make the effort of figuring out which deals makes the best financial sense. I fully understand that running a promotion remains one of the most reliable way of landing sales but even promotions has to be done correctly. Focus only on one or two promotions at any given moment as anything more than that and decision fatigue is sure to creep in.
Go easy on the CTAs (call-to-actions)
In my circle of friends, I’m that guy that keeps giving new food recommendations to try out only rarely, if ever, follow up on any of them and let me tell you right here and now that this kind of thing can get incredibly exhausting. Don’t you just hate it when a website keeps showering you with CTA buttons with all of those buttons asking you to perform different actions? This one at the top asks you for your e-mail address and subscribe to their newsletter. The one at the bottom asks you to visit their social media platforms to see how they’re fighting climate change. It’s a bad idea to split their attention this way as your effort is better spent on focusing users to do one thing and one thing only.
Use filters and tags to give the opportunity for users to narrow their choices
For websites that inherently hosts a lot of content, cutting down the number of content might be strictly impractical or even impossible. In that case, make use of filters and tags to make it easy for users to narrow their options and find what they are looking for. This isn’t just useful for e-commerce websites as even blogs would benefit from this approach. If you’ve ever used Google extensively, you know how hard can it be to find exactly what you’re looking for when you’ve got more than a million results thrown at you which is where filters and tags come in.