You can never have too many choices (unless you want to make money)

January 28, 2011

We hear all too often that having lots of choices is a good thing, and it is, but not in the software business. The final goal of any business, in any industry, is selling products right? Consequently, the amount of choices you provide in the products you offer to your customers needs to be limited. A little confused? I’ll give you an example: You’re looking for some kind of software. You search for it, look at some reviews and finally go the website of the developer. On that site, there is a nice green ‘Buy it Now’ button, you click on it and disaster occurs. They offer a ‘Home’ version, and a ‘Standard’ version, and a ‘Plus’ version, and a ‘Premium’ version, and an ‘Advanced’ version. Oh, and an ‘Ultimate’ version. The amount of options that some online software retailers offer is becoming ridiculous, and it’s losing them money.

Today, in a world where we can access information at the speed of light, we are often confronted with a huge array of choices in anything we do. For the majority of people however, an excess of choice leads to indecision, procrastination and confusion – something that is often seemingly forgotten in the software industry.

Even Microsoft fell into this trap with Vista: offering far too many different versions of the product which confused the consumer. Offering more than perhaps two options for any software product is a bad idea. If there is an excess of choices, more often than not, the customer will simply look elsewhere and you will lose the sale: either because the simply can’t be bothered reading all the options, or because they are quite naturally worried the version they purchase will be missing some vital feature.

Instead, keep it simple. Offer just one product for all your customers and you will find your sales will increase dramatically. If absolutely necessary, offer another version for enterprise, but don’t show it on the main site. Let enterprise customers read about the alternative product on a different page. It seems simple, but simplicity will make the world of difference.

Follow me on Twitter, if you like. Or check out my latest project, TapType.

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One Response to “You can never have too many choices (unless you want to make money)”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kane Bennett and HN Firehose, News Bloom. News Bloom said: You can never have too many choices (unless you want to make money) – http://bit.ly/fiDBJa – [Hacker News FH] […]

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