The first stems of rhubarb often kick-start the season. They are quickly followed by strawberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants and gooseberries, all maturing at the same time. By the end of the summer, the roadside hedges are full of blackberries begging to be picked while apples and plums start falling from the trees. For many gardeners, the growing season is synonym with jam making. But surely, what does it all have to do with web design?
The Jam Tasting Study
The Jam Tasting Study is a behavioural experiment conducted in 2000 by psychologists Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper from Columbia and Stanford University respectively. The two scientists set up a jam tasting stall on two different days in an upmarket grocery store in California.
On the first day, the stall invited regular customers to sample and buy a selection of 24 different flavours of jam.
On the second day, same stall only displayed a selection of 6 flavours of jam to taste and buy.
The objective of the experiment was to measure how choice (or lack of) influenced customer’s purchasing behaviour.
On the first day (24 flavours of jam on offer), 60% of shoppers stopped to sample and tasted 2 flavours on average. But only 3% of shoppers bought jam.
On the second day (6 flavours of jam on offer), 40% of shoppers stopped to sample and also tasted 2 flavours on average. 30% of shoppers subsequently bought jam.
The Paradox of Choice
Choice overload can have a paralysing effect. Comparing between very similar options involves making a decision and taking action (or buy). In some cases, this can be a very time-consuming operation. Is it worth the effort then when it comes to a simple decision like buying jam?
The jam tasting study serves to illustrate what has been described as “the paradox of choice” – An abundance of choice doesn’t necessarily equates with more sales. The jam sales were ten times greater on the stall offering fewer options.
When it comes to designing a website and the information flow on a home page, it is well worth remembering the jam tasting study. Focus on the user experience and make your website easy to navigate.
- Reduce the amount of tabs on the menu
- Declutter the home page and break down the content in short clear paragraphs.
- Use plenty of white space
- Stick to one call to action or goal per page
- Focus your energy on one or two social media platform