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Hicks Law

The time taken to make a decision increases as the number of options increase

Hick’s Law is also known as the ‘Hick-Hyman Law’. In situations where a decision is made between multiple equal options, the time taken is related to the number of options available. A decision between few options will take less time than a decision between many options.

In interface design, this principle is often quoted to argue for the elimination of distractions and a reduction in the number of options presented to the user. It is especially relevant for tasks where time is an issue.

Hick’s Law does not apply when:

• Options are spread between layers in a complex hierarchy
• Options are presented on unequal terms
• The user is highly familiar with the options available
• Significant reading is required to understand each option