Too Many Choices

The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is LessJoel on Software talked about choices and the headaches that come with them. I admit one of my weaker areas is the inability to make decisions. Do I want to do this or that? Do I want this or that? Should I go to this? Should I get this or that?

A friend of mine invited me to a luncheon last week as she got a free ticket and wanted to take me. I debated this for at least 30 minutes and continued changing my mind. In the end, I didn’t go. Turned out that my mother radar might’ve known something as I heard from my youngest’s school that he had a fever. I would’ve never made it to the luncheon. Of course, I wouldn’t want that to be the reason.

Visit any restaurant and the menu typically contains too many choices. When I bought an MP3 player for my kid, I debated which color to get. Tennis shoes, tennis racquet, all-in-one printer, cochlear implant (small vs. regular), volleyball socks. These were all subjects of recent decisions.

Uncle Mark knows all about the problems with too many choices and tries to alleviate that by suggesting one camera for folks to buy and avoid doing research. He updates the Gift Guide and Almanac every year and the choice camera changes as needed (you know how electronics are outdated the minute they land in your hands). Even this camera comes in three colors.

My mom decided to get a digital camera for my older two kids as gifts. The oldest has an old camera of mine, but it takes faded photos every now and then — and she takes tons of photos. The SD30 wasn’t for them, so I did quick research (dreading it as I know I could easily spend hours on cameras). I found one and the price was right. I told Mom and left it at that.

Thankfully, another web site confirmed I made the right decision. Had the site contained poor reviews, I’d scramble and start the search again. This is exactly what happened when I almost bought an all-in-one printer.

I have a crowded small office. As an organized person, everything has its place. An all-in-one would give me breathing room as I could pass on my color printer and scanner to my oldest. Depending on the quality and ease of use, I might’ve been able to dump the fax and copy machines.

But it wasn’t to be as I discovered some problem reviews regarding the scanner. My scanner isn’t that great, so I’d need one that works better — otherwise, it’s a wasted expense.

I’ve been reviewing web sites stepping into the target market’s head as I work around each web site. The problem with many is they provide too many choices. A site should have no more than one call to action on a page. The navigation — it’s as if the company is afraid to cut out items thinking the visitor would want them. They can’t miss what’s not there.

Both Mark and Joel refer to Barry Schwartz’s The Paradox of Choice Sadly sitting on my shelf unread as other books get first dibs. Do we need so many choices?

3 thoughts on “Too Many Choices”

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  2. Absolutely right. My daughter wanted to buy a laptop. Before I started researching, I panicked because I knew we had many choices. But then she narrowed it down to a Mac. That helped a lot — but Macs still have many choices. Thanks to Dori, we settled on the Macbook and she gave us a good recommendation for which one.


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