Freedom to choose, something good or a burden?

freetochooseIn the media industry we talk a lot about freedom of choice and that this is something that our customers are asking for. They want the freedom – we say.

There is one problem with this freedom. If we give it to them we also ask them to do something at the same time. CHOOSE! If you ask our clients if they want to make choices the answer is less likely to be yes. We spend a lot of brain capacity on making choices every day. The choice not to do, listen to, eat, see, talk to etc. is using up our brain capacity, without thinking of them. To choose whom to pay for access to 4G or Electricity is something we do not have to do that often but when it comes to media consumption it is a different story that we need to do and redo much more often.

By giving our users freedom we also need to give them tools to minimise the effort needed to make those choices. It is not strange that Spotify’s “Discover Weekly” playlist has been used billions of times. It makes listening to new music easier for the Spotify user and it renews itself weekly. A few months after releasing this functionality Spotify passed Pandora as largest online music service.

We cannot believe what the users say they want, not blindly at least. We can listen to what they consider is problematic, tiresome, boring, hard and so on and we can create solutions to this. So we (the UX people) need to bring the solutions to the problems that the freedom of choice creates rather than more freedom.

So, what can we do to help the user? How can we create the optimal recommendation so that the user finds what he/she wants to look at any given time, on the device of choice, with the time frame available and the is according to the mood. The answer I believe,  – a lot!