How Do You Handle Choice Fatigue?

Stacey Freed
July 15, 2014

Recently, my 18-year-old son decided that the front door must be swollen—often the case in summer—and therefore just needed a good hard shove to open. Alas, the door was bolted shut, and all that gym work must have paid off, because he burst right in, breaking the interior molding in the process. (Strong as he might believe he is, the lock must have been pretty old and worn.) So, now I’m in the market for a new entry door.

I begin my search online, like most consumers of purchases over $500—81 percent according to Retailing Today—mostly just to get ideas. My search words are “doors for 1948 Cape Cod” or “Craftsman entry door.” Hundreds of websites pop up, and I scroll through dozens of images. I am exhausted after five minutes. (I must confess that I hate shopping—others might last longer.)

Eventually, I make my way to specific company websites. And the search grows wider still. Wood, fiberglass or steel? Modern, Contemporary, Craftsman, Old World, Rustic? If it’s wood or fiberglass, what species? What finish? Glass? Clear? Cubed? Decorative? Caming? Then there’s the hardware.

With customization increasing at every price point, the act of choosing may only grow more difficult.

Research over the last decade has shown that given too many choices, consumers get fatigued. And one study showed that 30 percent of consumers purchased after seeing a limited selection, while only 3 percent purchased when offered an extensive array from which to choose. What’s a seller to do?

How do you help consumers deal with the anxiety of making purchasing choices? Let us know in this week’s poll and post a comment.

Survey Results for 07/16/2014 :

How do you help consumers deal with the anxiety of making purchasing choices?

None of the above





Offer a visualizer app to make the process easier





All of the above





Limit options for each component choice





Have a simple process on our website





Have only standard (i.e., no custom) choices




Freed is a contributing writer for Window & Door.

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Thanks for the comments. I will "test drive" some options for sure.

And, I love John Jervis's idea: "Let them choose solutions." I think the door is really ready for replacement. 


Interesting problem.

We deal with this with our members this way:

There are three reasons a person searches to get a new door (or window) for an existing opening: Repair, Replace or Remodel.

Without giving you the 1/2 hour seminar version, suffice is to describe the journey for you this way:

The door broke, so Repair would require the least decision making because you might have replaced the lock, replaced the molding, made some operating adjustments, and got back to square 1 rather easily. Think new handle on a broken bathroom faucet.

Replacing might have been an option to get new stuff so there'd be no old lock to break again, and your door wouldn't be prone to sticking, etc. So you would find a "new" version of your door and it theoretically would fit right in. Think new faucet in your bathroom to replace the old one.

Remodeling is what you got into immediately, and therefore the overwhelming choices. Now you're looking at a different sink because the faucet handle broke - with too little consideration for the restrictions of water/drain access... you get the idea.

However, your door choice is automatically limited by the restrictions inherent in the existing opening - unless you're game for a complete rip-out and remodeling of the opening along with the door.

This simplistic approach an important part of the "Path to Purchase", and a part of what apparently has been left out of your quest. And, worse, it apparently has been left out of the marketing on the internet.

Imagine a website that has navigation that simply asks if your interest is Repair, Replace or Remodel, and briefly explains each. Your selection among those would then lead you through the restrictions, versus the opportunities of each, and offer solutions rather than just a myriad of choices.

Think like a consumer. Make them smart. Let them choose solutions.

Hi Stacey,
A simple, free online tool you might be interested in is Simpson's "Test Drive a Door." You can upload a photo of your home, then drag and drop any Simpson door to see how it will look on your home. You can try it out at:

Best regards,


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