Hick’s Law

Your constantly-updated definition of Hick’s Law and collection of topical content and literature

What is Hick’s Law?

Hick’s Law (or the Hick-Hyman Law) states that the more choices a person is presented with, the longer the person will take to reach a decision. Named after psychologists William Edmund Hick and Ray Hyman, Hick’s Law finds frequent application in user experience (UX) design—namely, to avoid overwhelming users with too many choices, thereby keeping them engaged.

Specifically, Hick’s Law states that the time required to reach a decision increases logarithmically with the number of choices—this means that the increase in time taken becomes less significant as the number of choices continues to increase. Thus, Hick’s Law becomes less important when designing long lists (for instance, a contact list, or a list of UX design topics), but it is crucial when designing short lists (such as a navigation menu, or action buttons in a website or app). In other words, the risk of information saturation/overload rises when website visitors encounter too many options. This will almost certainly have a bearing on how quickly they abandon their user experience by leaving (i.e., the bounce rate).

There are exceptions to Hick’s Law. For one, it applies only to equally probable choices, where the user is equally likely to select any of the choices. This means that if users already know what they want to do before seeing the list of choices, the time it takes them to act is likely to be less than what Hick’s Law describes. However, the general rule of thumb of Hick’s Law is still valuable, and it informs a wide range of design decisions—from the number of controls in a microwave oven, to the number of links in a website’s header. As such, this law tends to be a vital determinant in user engagement and conversion rates.

Literature on Hick’s Law

Here’s the entire UX literature on Hick’s Law by the Interaction Design Foundation, collated in one place:

Learn more about Hick’s Law

Take a deep dive into Hick’s Law with our course Design Thinking: The Beginner’s Guide .

Some of the world’s leading brands, such as Apple, Google, Samsung, and General Electric, have rapidly adopted the design thinking approach, and design thinking is being taught at leading universities around the world, including Stanford d.school, Harvard, and MIT. What is design thinking, and why is it so popular and effective?

The overall goal of this design thinking course is to help you design better products, services, processes, strategies, spaces, architecture, and experiences. Design thinking helps you and your team develop practical and innovative solutions for your problems. It is a human-focused, prototype-driven, innovative design process. Through this course, you will develop a solid understanding of the fundamental phases and methods in design thinking, and you will learn how to implement your newfound knowledge in your professional work life. We will give you lots of examples; we will go into case studies, videos, and other useful material, all of which will help you dive further into design thinking.

This course contains a series of practical exercises that build on one another to create a complete design thinking project. The exercises are optional, but you’ll get invaluable hands-on experience with the methods you encounter in this course if you complete them, because they will teach you to take your first steps as a design thinking practitioner. What’s equally important is you can use your work as a case study for your portfolio to showcase your abilities to future employers! A portfolio is essential if you want to step into or move ahead in a career in the world of human-centered design.

Design thinking methods and strategies belong at every level of the design process. However, design thinking is not an exclusive property of designers—all great innovators in literature, art, music, science, engineering, and business have practiced it. What’s special about design thinking is that designers and designers’ work processes can help us systematically extract, teach, learn, and apply these human-centered techniques in solving problems in a creative and innovative way—in our designs, in our businesses, in our countries, and in our lives.

That means that design thinking is not only for designers but also for creative employees, freelancers, and business leaders. It’s for anyone who seeks to infuse an approach to innovation that is powerful, effective and broadly accessible, one that can be integrated into every level of an organization, product, or service so as to drive new alternatives for businesses and society.

All Literature

Please check the value and try again.