Hick’s Law

Hick’s Law: Simplifying Choices to Enhance User Experience

Hick’s Law, also known as Hick-Hyman Law, is a psychological principle that describes the time it takes for a person to make a decision as a result of the possible choices they have. In user experience (UX) design, Hick’s Law is fundamental in creating efficient and intuitive interfaces by reducing the complexity of choices presented to users.

What is Hick’s Law?

Hick’s Law states that the time it takes to make a decision increases logarithmically as the number of choices increases. The principle can be summarized by the formula:

T = a + b * log2(n + 1)


  • T is the time to make a decision,
  • a and are constants that represent the cognitive processing time,
  • n is the number of choices.

Importance of Hick’s Law in UX Design

  1. Improved Decision Making: By limiting the number of choices, users can make decisions faster and with greater confidence, leading to a smoother user experience.
  2. Reduced Cognitive Load: Simplifying choices helps reduce the cognitive load on users, preventing them from feeling overwhelmed and frustrated.
  3. Enhanced Usability: A well-designed interface that adheres to Hick’s Law principles is easier to navigate, making it more user-friendly and accessible.

Applying Hick’s Law in Design

  1. Limit Choices: Offer a manageable number of options to users. For example, instead of presenting ten different menu items, categorize them into broader groups to simplify the decision-making process.
  2. Prioritize Options: Highlight the most important or frequently used options to guide users towards making quicker decisions. Use visual hierarchy to make these options stand out.
  3. Progressive Disclosure: Reveal information and options progressively as needed, rather than all at once. This helps users focus on the task at hand without being overwhelmed by too many choices.
  4. Use Default Options: Providing sensible default options can help users make decisions faster, especially for complex tasks. Defaults reduce the number of decisions users have to make.
  5. Group Related Items: Organize related items together to make it easier for users to find what they are looking for. This can be done through visual grouping or logical categorization.
  6. Provide Clear Labels: Ensure that labels and instructions are clear and unambiguous. Users should immediately understand the choices available to them.

Advantages of Applying Hick’s Law

  1. Faster Decision-Making: Simplified choices lead to quicker decisions, enhancing the overall user experience.
  2. Increased Satisfaction: Users are more likely to feel satisfied with their experience when they can easily and quickly make decisions.
  3. Higher Conversion Rates: By reducing the time and effort required to make choices, users are more likely to complete desired actions, such as making a purchase or signing up for a service.

Challenges and Limitations

  1. Over-Simplification: While reducing choices can be beneficial, overly limiting options might not cater to all user needs and preferences.
  2. Context-Dependent: The optimal number of choices can vary depending on the context and complexity of the task. Designers need to balance simplicity with functionality.
  3. Individual Differences: Different users have different preferences and tolerances for the number of choices. What works for one user group might not work for another.

Real-World Examples

  1. E-commerce Websites: Many e-commerce sites use filtering options to help users narrow down product choices quickly. By categorizing products and providing filtering options, users can find what they need without being overwhelmed by too many choices.
  2. Navigation Menus: Websites often use drop-down menus or mega menus to group related links, making it easier for users to find the information they need without being confronted with an extensive list of options.
  3. Form Design: Online forms that use progressive disclosure to show additional fields only when necessary help reduce the perceived complexity and make the form-filling process less daunting.


Hick’s Law is a valuable principle in UX design that emphasizes the importance of simplifying choices to enhance user decision-making and satisfaction. By applying Hick’s Law, designers can create more efficient, user-friendly interfaces that reduce cognitive load and improve overall usability.

Ondrej Zoricak
Ondrej Zoricak