Hick’s Law (or the Hick-Hyman Law) is named after a British and an American psychologist team of William Edmund Hick and Ray Hyman. In 1952, this pair set out to examine the relationship between the number of stimuli present and an individual’s reaction time to any given stimulus. As you would expect, the more stimuli to choose from, the longer it takes the user to make a decision on which one to interact with. Users bombarded with choices have to take time to interpret and decide, giving them work they don’t want.
The time it takes to make a decision increases with the number and complexity of choices.
RT = a + b log2 (n)
"RT" = Reaction Time
"(n)" = Number of Choices
"a" & "b" = arbitrary measurable constants that depend on the task that is to be carried out and the conditions under which it will be carried out.
- Reduce the number of choices to get a faster Decision.
- Minimize choices when response times are critical to increase decision time.
- Break complex tasks into smaller steps in order to decrease cognitive load.
- Avoid overwhelming users by highlighting recommended options.
- Use progressive onboarding to minimize cognitive load for new users.
- Keep a balance between reducing complexity and oversimplifying.
- Smaller steps makes people more Comfortable.
- Use the highlighting to help users to avoid overloading and to make a choice quicker.