Decision Fatigue: Keep it Simple

Beacon Blog Article

By Beacon News | Published August 12, 2015 | Categories: Web Development

Columbia University put this idea to the test by setting up sampling booths with varying selections of jam in an upscale grocery store. On the first Saturday researchers stocked the booth with 24 different flavors of jam for customers to choose from. On the following Saturday they offered only 6. At the end of the experiment the 24-jam booth proved more enticing by attracting around 60% of total jam samplers with a conversion rate of about 3%. While the 6-jam booth only attracted 40% of traffic, it boasted a conversion rate of 30%.


Much like muscle fatigue, decision fatigue can cause our brain to deplete its store of mental energy. Once this happens our brain will naturally look for shortcuts to conserve energy. Unfortunately for marketers, consumers often use the safest and most energy efficient short cut: leaving without converting.

Leader with decision fatigue

So what’s the magic number of choices? Unfortunately Columbia has not cracked that mystery for us yet, but for now the best answer is simplifying the online shopping experience. The fewer steps and decisions your customers must make from landing to check out the better. We suggest decreasing the number of product variations and segmenting products into smaller categories. This will allow your customer to find exactly what they are looking for while expending the least amount of time and energy.


Simplicity is something that everyone can appreciate, but providing a seamless experience across all devices and platforms is easier said then done. When asked about the process of simplifying technology the late Steve Jobs said “To do so required total collaboration between the designers, the developers, the engineers, and the manufacturing team.”

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