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Giving a wealth of choice…

I often pick up surveys for errors they make – it is unfortunately a common occurrence.

Today I spotted one that used perfect grammar and made perfect sense. The question listed the following options for someone’s gender:

  • male
  • female
  • intersex
  • other (please specify)
  • prefer not to say

For a question where I am used to see two possible answers (male and female), such a long list surprised me!

How much is too much?

Blank page over a list of bullet points

When talking to clients, I talk about writing from their points or from scratch – I don’t list writing blog posts, webcopy, disclosure documents, annual reports and letters. Fewer options make their decision easier.

How many choices make it hard to choose?

For a question with a clear answer (like how old are you or do you live in Australia), a lot of choices can work as you can skim across the options to find the relevant response.

But at other times, a large choice can hamper people actually making a decision.

I think there is a balance between not restricting people, offering them options, and overwhelming them with choice. Especially if some of the options are going to be chosen by a very limited number of people.

In business, too many choices can result in people being indecisive and not buying.

I know it can be hard to not offer something (what if my next potential client wants exactly the thing I don’t mention?) but considering if less is more can simplify and help your customers.

You can always add a note somewhere to the effect of ‘if what you want isn’t listed, give us a call’.

So how many options does your business offer?

Have you considered if it is too many, or how it could be simplified?

2 Responses to Giving a wealth of choice…

  • Susan Oakes says:

    Hi Tash,

    I happened to be on Twitter and saw you tweet this post. Your article touches on my favourite subject – simplicity. too many websites seems to offer their services like a Chinese takeaway menu. It has been shown in studies that this complicates the buying decision. Today customers want simplicity and what many businesses do not realise that simplicity can increase their sales. If you know your customers well then having packages with pricing means less steps and barriers customers have to go through. As you said you can also add the line you mentioned.

    I think if you know how your customers think, feel and behave you can simplify what you offer. Final thought is customers are time poor so why not simplify the buying decisions for them.

  • Tash Hughes says:

    Thanks for such a detailed comment, Susan.

    I know for myself, I don’t want to spend a lot of time trying to understand my options when buying something – I want to grab what I need and move on. So a simple buying process just makes good sense to my thinking.

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