Common sense would dictate that if given a list of choices you would choose the one that is most important to you, when in reality humans usually choose the one that is easiest for them to understand and evaluate. When it comes to politicians how often do the voters pick the guy with the better political record versus them picking the guy they have heard of before or has given them a simple concept to understand?
Do you think most people realize there are benefits to driving a manual transmission car over an automatic? Do you think they care? Automatic is easier to pick up so why bother with any other choice? How often do we stay in relationships that we shouldn't simply because it's easier to just deal with it than face the repercussions of having to confront the person?
Have you ever been to In & Out Burger? I heard great stories about this place and their mythical burgers and fries. The catch behind this place is that they have a very limited menu. You order a Double Double, cheeseburger or hamburger. You can add fries, milkshake and beverage to that if you wish. That's all of your options. Now I have been there and tasted their food and it's good, but it is not much different than Wendy's. The appeal of the place is that your choices are limited. It's easy to order there because you don't have to decide which type of chicken sandwich you feel is the best option for you. In & Out makes the fast food experience easy for you. Having it your way is not the way we want.
Woot.com is an online store with a twist. Instead of browsing through hundreds or thousands of items you are offered only one item a day. If you like it you buy it and if you don't you wait till tomorrow to see what is going to show up. The site is successful and yet the logic of it all seems backwards. However, if I'm running a store does it matter if I'm selling 100 units of 1 item or 100 different items 1 unit at a time? Woot makes the shopping experience easy by making our choice simply yes or no.
How many of your friends chose to buy a computer for their home simply because they use the same one at work? Movie gets bad ratings? Don't go see it because the decision is made for us. Who cares about reading its summary? Our selections don't have to be the best choices, they just have to be ones that we are okay with.
How often do you come across a site that offers you better features than their competitors, but they aren't as easy to use. There is no reason to switch over to a service that is harder to use even if they have more features. If the features aren't there to make my life easier what good does the service do me?
Back when image hosting was cool, the sites that won were the ones that allowed you to upload an image without having to register or login. You simply uploaded your image and you were done. That doesn't mean sites like Flickr couldn't thrive, but they had to work much harder to get users and show that going through the hassle of registering was worth it.
If somehow you can make the easiest product and best product in the industry, you have yourself a winner. You have to consider how many choices we are given daily so it's in your best interest to limit the ones your customers have to make because there is a good chance it isn't the most important decision of the day for them.
What this means is that the design that is easiest to evaluate will usually win. Make your copy straight to the point. Don't waste your time on graphics that don't drive the point home. Funny t-shirts and bumper stickers are effective because they are easy to evaluate. I have a hard enough time picking my underwear in the morning, don't make me try to decide which of the 250 default avatars I should use.
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