Fewer Options = Better Experience?

I read a brief post a few days ago, which took me back to a conversation (read: conflict) I had with a client. While redesigning the web site for a small investment firm, I proposed a conservative design with very focused calls to action and a handful of site features.

(Full concepts not shown. Wireframes quickly produced from memory.)

ltg-wireframing01

After some of the usual back-and-forth, we were able to agree on a good deal of the design I came up with, but the client just couldn't understand why we shouldn't put a link to every bit of content on the home page. "We want them to see the whole site," they'd say. In the most diplomatic way possible, and with only a smattering of profanity, I returned with something along the lines of, "We should want them to see what they're looking for, followed by a very simple decision to make. Let's avoid overwhelming users with too many options and let's make the 'next step' as clear as possible."

This was not received as well as I had hoped. I was asked to add more... a lot more.

ltg-wireframing02

I already made my case, and lost -- and everyone knows the customer is always right -- so I did as I was told and entertained a few revisions beyond the above. After another week, and an entire bottle of Advil, the client came back and said he wanted to scrap the changes and work from the original wireframe, which led us to:

ltg-wireframing03

I was delighted for the compromise but I'm certain more profanity ensued. I'd like to think that the "big boy" web professionals don't have to deal with this kind of stuff but I'm sure even the best of us get turned into pixel pushers once in a while.

For the question posed in the topic title, "Fewer Options = Better Experience?", the answer is: sometimes -- but it doesn't really matter either way if you can't convince the client that user experience is important to their web site.