Hick’s Law, also known as Hicks-Hyman Law, states that the time it takes to make a decision is proportionally related to the number and complexity of choices.
Presenting too many choices at one time increases the user’s cognitive load. It also reduces their reaction time and makes an interface seem difficult to use. Care needs to be taken by designers to reduce the amount of choices presented to a user at any one time. That is easier said than done of course because reducing complexity and guiding the user takes planning and many iterations which in turn takes time.
Hick’s Law does not only relate to navigation menus. It should also be a guiding principle for the overall user experience of the website. One way to prevent information overload and reducing complexity is to address each element down to the link level individually and then to work your way up through the copy, images, navigations and up the hierarchy of the page.
So next time you start designing, keep Hick’s Law in mind to create the great experience your users deserve.