Less-is-Better Effect

A cognitive bias favoring simpler options over more complex ones.

What it is

The Less-is-Better effect is a phenomenon in which people sometimes prefer a lesser but complete entity over a greater but incomplete one. This cognitive bias occurs when an individual perceives a smaller quantity as being of higher value or quality than a larger quantity. For example, a person might prefer a full small glass over a larger glass that is not completely filled, even if the larger glass contains more of the beverage.

How to use it

1. Simplifying the Sign-Up Process

Applying the Less-is-Better Effect to the sign-up process can significantly increase conversions. Tech startups often require users to provide numerous details during sign-up, which can lead to form abandonment. By reducing the amount of information required, you make the process quicker and more convenient, thereby increasing the likelihood of conversions. For instance, only ask for the essential information: name, email, and password. Additional details can be gathered once the user has signed up and started using the product.

2. Minimalistic User Interface (UI)

In the realm of UI design, the Less-is-Better Effect can enhance user engagement. A clean, minimalist design reduces cognitive load, making it easier for users to navigate and interact with the product. This approach can also highlight the product’s main features, providing a straightforward user experience. For example, a tech startup could design its app with a minimalist UI, focusing on core features and eliminating unnecessary elements.

3. Focused Product Offering

When it comes to product offerings, less can be more. Tech startups can leverage the Less-is-Better Effect by focusing their product line or services. Instead of offering a wide range of features that can confuse or overwhelm users, it's better to offer a few core features that directly meet the user's needs. This not only simplifies decision-making for users but also allows the startup to polish and perfect these core offerings, leading to higher customer satisfaction and retention.

4. Streamlined Onboarding

An effective way to increase user retention is by simplifying the onboarding process. Instead of bombarding new users with loads of information and features, tech startups can utilize the Less-is-Better Effect by introducing a few key features first and then gradually introducing other features over time. This approach makes onboarding less overwhelming and helps users understand the product better, increasing the likelihood that they will continue using it.

5. Clear and Concise Messaging

The Less-is-Better Effect can also be applied to a tech startup's messaging and communication. By keeping messages short, clear, and to the point, users can easily understand the product's value proposition, which can increase conversions and engagement. Overloading users with too much information can lead to confusion and disinterest. Therefore, it's better to communicate the most important points in a concise and straightforward manner.

6. Limited Choices in Pricing Plans

Offering too many pricing plans can overwhelm and confuse potential customers, leading to decision paralysis. By leveraging the Less-is-Better Effect, tech startups can limit their pricing plans to two or three options. This not only simplifies the decision-making process for customers but also makes it easier for the startup to manage and optimize these plans.

Want to learn more?

Decoding the Why explores how high growth companies can integrate the power of behavioral science to unlock product & go-to-market strategies.

Use promo code Patent355 to receive a free eBook and Kindle copy.

get free copy
Cover of Decoding the Why book

More Behavioral Design Theories

Disposition Effect

An inclination to sell winning assets while retaining losing ones.


The inclination to accept and act on suggestions of others.

The Sunk Cost Fallacy

An irrational commitment to past investments influencing current decisions.

Omission Bias

A preference for harm caused by inaction over action.

Availability Heuristic

A cognitive bias where decisions are based on immediate, available information.

Bye-Now Effect

The theory posits immediate gratification increases customer engagement and conversions.