We build websites for people who sell products and services. It might be said we’re biased when we assert that now your digital shopfront (aka your website) is more important than your bricks and mortar. Well this might not be strictly true; however, the statistics are favouring investing in your online presence.
So what makes a good website? The question is huge and I won’t be able to pick it apart in one blog post. I do however want to talk about designing for conversion, an emerging school of thought about how to optimise your site to control visitors behaviour—getting them to complete the tasks you want (sign up for a news letter, buy a frock, complete a contact form, etc.). There are a couple aspects of the latter that I want to talk about, but in particular I want to talk about choices.
It’s Important to Keep Choices Manageable
The famous Columbia University study showed us that more giving more choices to customers can have a deleterious effect on conversions. In the study two stands of Jam were placed out, one with a selection of six jams, and one with a selection of 24 jams. 60% of customers were attracted to the large selection, and 40% to the small selection—however, only 3% of customers walked away from the large selection having bought a jar of jam, while 30% of customers that stopped at the small selection converted and walked out of the shop with a jar of jam.
The concept of ‘less is more’ is equally applicable to websites who can try to convert with a baffling number of choices.
The idea is simple: the more choices there are, the higher the likelihood that the individual will be paralysed by the options and in the end choose not to choose—natigating away from your webpage without converting.
So what’s the optimum number of choices?
Well, dropbox get’s it right: Three choices, it seems, is the magic number; converting leaps and bounds more often then it’s nearest neighbours (two and four).
Of course, this isn’t universally applicable, so take it with a grain of salt. However, it does show that marketing lessons learned in the real world can and should be applied to your digital store-front.