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Users don’t want choice, they want expert guidance


How many times have you added extra features to your product to give your users more options or because you thought it was time to switch things up? In the end, it might have made a small bump in sales or interest, but really did all that effort creating extra options and choices really pay off for you? Probably not. 


The thing is people don’t want a choice.


It sounds like a dictatorial take, but it’s got psychological backing.


Especially during stressful times or if we’re in a high pressure position, there’ll normally be a lot of decisions we have to make in a single day. Separate from anything workplace based, there are hundreds of decisions that we have to make each and every day. From what to wear, to coffee orders, to lunch, to how we’re getting to work, to which playlist or podcast we listen to and so many more options.


Honestly, when you think about how many decisions we have to make each day, it’s exhausting – and our brain is feeling the same way. When we have to keep actively making decisions, it saps up our brain power, over time making us feel more and more tired. 


This has actually been documented during the pandemic with the new daily decisions between mask or no mask, working remotely or going into the office, how we act and the social ramifications of those choices, massively affecting our mental wellbeing. 


Instead, when we don’t have to actively make decisions, we’re a lot happier. That’s why restaurants with small but high quality menus are having a resurgence over places with huge menus. Similarly, people crave an expert opinion: for example, with the rise of set menus with wine pairings. 


People want to know that what they’re having is the best option for them, whether they’ve chosen it or otherwise. It’s the reason that, by and large, we don’t question the prescriptions we’re given by doctors because we assume, logically, that they know best and that we don’t have the brain capacity to do all the necessary research and try and make our own informed decision. That would be a waste of our time and energy when the expert is right there.


When it comes to product and software design it’s no different. Behavioural science and psychology tells us that many of us are suffering from decision fatigue, so when we take choice out of the equation, we naturally have happier, less stressed users, and by extension, are more likely to be more engaged.


AI is doing a lot of this work for us, gathering data about the user’s preferences and guiding them in the direction they’re wanting to go, giving them a seamless user experience. It’s making the user journey as simple and streamlined as possible. This isn’t about removing free will or anything drastic like that – it’s about removing unnecessary choices to give your user’s brains the breaks they’re desperately craving in this day in age.

Do the hard work for your customer: do the research, become the expert, choose the best path for them and guide them down it. That’s what customers want, it’s time for us to give it to them.