Hicks Law

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Published Mar 22, 2024
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Hick’s Law or the Hick–Hyman Law, named after British and American psychologists William Edmund Hick and Ray Hyman, describes the time a person takes to make a decision based on the number of available choices introduced.

Hick’s Law states that increasing the number of choices will increase the decision time logarithmically and is represented as follows:

RT = a + b log<sub>2</sub>(n)

A graph representing Hick's Law's logarithmic curve

Implications of Hick’s Law

It has been shown that increasing the number of choices available to an individual does not improve efficiency. Instead, it leads to a reduction in the individual’s ability to make a decision and a lower level of user satisfaction.

When designing web interfaces, it is crucial to consider Hick’s Law and incorporate the following guidelines to facilitate decision-making time and enhance the overall user experience:

  1. Limit the number of options
  2. Group content
  3. User of “other”
  4. Hide advanced settings
  5. Do not over simplify to the point of abstraction

Example

An illustration representing 5 examples of optimal UX design based on Hick's Law's principles

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