Hick's Laws

Hick’s Law states that the more options a user is presented with, the longer it will take them to make a decision.

Man looking at vending machine with many options.


Imagine you are stood in front of a row of vending machines full of drinks and snacks. Each vending machine has maybe three rows with seven or eight choices per row. That leaves you twenty four options to choose from per vending machine. You will likely look at each item before deciding which option is the best option for you.

A similar behaviour can be seen in the digital world; when users are given many options, it will take them longer to come to a decision.

The google homepage

Hick's Law is very powerful when considered whilst designing landing pages - a user has landed at your site, but what now? The longer it takes a user to make a decision on yout site, the more likely it is that they could bounce away.

Take the Google homepage for example, a user has very limited options presented to them. This means that the time it takes for a user to make a decision is likely to be very quick.

It might be tempting to think "Google are doing this, so we should too!", but it's often fairly difficult to minimise options to the extent that Google does.

The ASOS homepage

A more realistic example comes from ASOS; they have limited their options on their homepage to help users make a quicker decision. From here a user can primarily search, or navigate to the 'Men' or 'Women' part of the site.

If you want to produce a frictionless journey, reduce the number of options you display to a user - limit options to what a user needs. But don't be afraid of a little friction at times; slowing the user down can also be beneficial.

Key points

Presenting fewer options to your users means that they will take less time to make a decision, and vice versa.

Use qualitative and quantitative data to identify the primary tasks that the user would like to achieve to help you narrow down your options.

In order to reduce options in your navigation, card-sorting can be used to help identify categories and refine Information Architecture.

Other UX Laws

Fitts's Law

Fitts's Law states that the amount of time taken to move to and select a target is a function of the distance to and size of the target.

Fitts's Law

A man aiming a bow and arrow at a far away target.

Tesler's Law

Also known as "The Law of Conservation of Complexity", Tesler's Law states that systems have an inherent amount of complexity that cannot be reduced.

Tesler's Law

A set of busy, winding motorway roads looping and crossing each other.

Jakob's Law

Jakob's Law states that users spend more time on other websites so they expect your website to work in the same way, that they are already familiar with.

Read more

A floppy disk.