Making heaps of decisions makes you tired

Have you heard of decision fatigue?

It’s the tiredness you feel after having to make many choices over a short period of time. I guess the anxiety of choice eventually wears you out, making you less able to assess risk vs reward, and more prone to making impulse decisions.

For the more psych-nerdy among us, this is part of a bigger phenomenon known as ego depletion – the idea that willpower is a finite resource that needs to be recharged.

Get learned, Pepe:

So what about this in the context of UX – how can we strike a good balance between offering information and choice, and not overwhelming people to the point of fatigue?

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Why does choice create anxiety?

Tl;dr –

  1. We choose what other people are choosing.
  2. We try to make an ideal choice.
  3. Choice always involves loss.

How does this relate to UX?

  • Offering too many choices may make your users anxious to the point of inaction (analysis paralysis), or action at your competitor (“too hard, going somewhere else”).
  • It’s helpful to suggest why a user would choose a particular option.
  • Give users an ‘out’ if they make the wrong choice – eg. refunds, exchanges, upgrades & downgrades, a properly functioning back button.