Reapplying Hick’s Law

According to Jason Gross we don’t fully understand Hick’s Law. In an article for Smashing Magazine he explains how we can design better for the user’s decision-making process.

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Gross starts the article ‘Redefining Hick’s Law‘ by stating that our view of Hick’s Law is strongly oversimplified and incomplete. He states that we’ve been focusing to much on links and clicks, which isn’t everything that’s important. The essence that he tries to grasp focuses mainly on eliminating choices, which will make the overall experience more enjoyable.

Hick’s Law has always been a popular reference point for designers. You’ll find it cited in the endless lists of basic laws and principles that all designers should be familiar with. Given our assumed comfort level with this design cornerstone, I am surprised to see so many people getting it wrong.


In order to properly apply Hick’s Law to Web design, we must approach a design the way our users do: in phases. The first phase occurs before the website even launches. While we would never want to design based on an assumption of what our user base is looking for, visitor will rarely happen upon your website without some sort of preconception of what they are going to see.

Read Jason Gross’ article on Smashing Magazine.

Jeroen van Geel

Jeroen van Geel is founder/chief kahuna of Johnny Holland and the interaction director at Fabrique [brands, design & interaction], a Dutch multidisciplinary design agency. You can follow him on Twitter via @jeroenvangeel.

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