Less is More: Simplifying your User Experience

October 19th, 2010
Published on
October 19th, 2010

Too many options can confuse and weigh down users. Don’t overwhelm them.

Through the rapidly increasing amount of information, messaging, reviews and data online, we know that consumers are presented with more options than ever before. As a result they are becoming more and more savvy and resourceful to research products and services that they’re interested in. Ultimately they’re becoming wiser with how they are making their buying decisions and more demanding to have the information they need, when they need it.

As marketers, it’s important to consider the opportunity we have to lead our consumers from inquiry to purchase by offering them what they need—and only what they need—at every step of the process. No more, no less.

When considering what and when we’re delivering to customers, we need to keep in mind that most consumers are now doing their research through multiple platforms. Whether it’s through their laptop browsers, iPads, Blackberrys or iPhones, the need to develop smart user experiences and intuitive interfaces on every platform is greater than ever.

So how do you ensure you’re providing this to your customers?

Be one step ahead

It’s something that the advertising industry has excelled at for years and something that the digital world can certainly learn from. Who are we communicating with? How do they think and what do we need to say to persuade them towards an action? In our case, what information and options do we need to provide them with to move them to the next step towards their purchase decision?

To fully answer these questions, let’s take a look at the restaurant dining experience. Generally, once someone sits down to eat, you have their full attention and their commitment to spend money with you. For whatever reason, they’ve chosen to engage in a dining experience at your restaurant. In the same way, once someone lands at a website, mobile site, iPhone app, or any user experience that you’ve provided, you have their full attention. Now all you have to do is keep their attention and walk them down the path that you’ve carefully planned and thought through.

How do you carefully plan and think through a user experience?

Start with the end user

Clearly establishing who is going to be using the interface, identifying their wants and desires surrounding your product, and then mapping out their decision making process are things that can’t be overlooked in your planning process. Can you imagine sitting down for dinner at your favorite restaurant and having your waiter ask you what you would like to drink, and then immediately ask what you think you’ll want for dessert later on? You likely have enough trouble trying to figure out what you want for a main course, or if you even want an appetizer.

Stage what you’re presenting your users with in digestible pieces—too much too soon may heighten your drop off rate.

No dessert until you finish your meal

There is a common sense approach to how you are sold at a restaurant. Much like how they stage your dining experience, in web and mobile experiences, our approach needs to be as equally simplistic.
This is where the idea of less is more comes into play. It’s centered around the notion that we don’t want to make our customers think more than they have to. The fewer decisions, the better.

This becomes easier to accomplish when we consider all of our customer touch points throughout the decision making process and specifically what they’ll be looking for at that point. With how connected most people are now, an important part of this is recognizing what platform they’re using and what specific information they’re looking for. An example of this would be someone looking up your website on their way to your store in hopes of finding your address.

Ask yourself the following questions when approaching UX design:

  • What can we take out of the experience to make it easier for our users to make decisions?
  • Are we presenting them with a desert option too soon in the process? What options and upgrades would be better suited for another menu at a later time?
  • How do we keep them engaged through the whole experience?

Less really is more

After identifying what environment or device consumers will be on at any given point along the way, remove all unnecessary options along that path, giving them exactly what they need at each step—no more, no less. The end result will be smaller bounce rates, more sales, customers who feel like you understand their needs, and hopefully as a result, more word of mouth referrals.