Decision Paralysis: How Choice Overload Is Killing Your PT Website

A guide that explains how choice overload can affect conversion rates and tips on how to avoid it.

There’s an old story by Greek fabulist Aesop called “The Fox and the Cat” that still holds true relevance today.

According to the fable, the fox was bragging to the cat about the different tricks it had for escaping its enemies. The cat, in return, said it only had one. While they were talking, the two animals heard some hounds and reckoned huntsmen were approaching. The cat used the one trick it had and climbed the tree to hide. The fox, however, started going through all its tricks, trying to decide what to do as the huntsmen were getting close. In the end, the fox failed to decide what to do, and the hunters ended up capturing it.

What does this story have to do with your site, you might be asking yourself.

Well, here’s the thing: as the fox’s tale teaches us, having too many choices can lead to exhaustion, stress, and anxiety. Similarly, when buyers are presented with too many options, the burden of deciding becomes so heavy, they simply decide not to decide. So, they purchase the same brand they bought last time or go home without buying anything.

That’s what psychologist Barry Schwartz calls “choice overload.”

In this article, we’ll discuss how choice overload can kill your physical therapy clinic’s conversion rate.

The Concept of Choice Overload

Barry Schwartz first introduced the concept of choice overload in his book, “The Paradox of Choice – Why More is Less.” According to him, when we have to make a choice from various options, we often end up feeling less satisfied with the outcome than we would have been if there were fewer options.

Another study found that a larger array of products will indeed attract more customers than a smaller array. But, when it comes to buying, customers are more likely to purchase the product when they are offered a smaller sample.

Why does this happen?                                                 

According to Schwartz, there are two factors at play when we decide.

The first one is emotional satisfaction.

When the options are limited, people tend to pick the item that is closest to their needs. If the product turns out to be bad, that’s because you had just a handful of options. But, when people are faced with a large selection of items, things change. If the product turns out to be bad, that’s because you made the wrong decision.

The second factor is complexity.

The more options you have, the harder it is to compare products. Now, the importance of deciding increases, because you are given the possibility to buy the best product, not just the one that’s “good enough”.

That is what Barry Schwartz likes to call the paradox of choice. When people are given too many choices, they tend to feel less satisfaction, even after making a decision. Furthermore, having too many options can often lead to less choosing.

But what does this theory have to do with your PT clinic’ website’s content?

Well, similar to how having too much choice can negatively affect potential buyers, the content on your clinic’s web page can influence your patients as well. Too much information, such as links or share buttons can affect patients’ navigation experience and leave them frustrated.

How Choice Overload Is Affecting Your PT Clinic’s Website

Ideally, your website should offer existing and potential patients information that is relevant to them and helps them take an informed decision. But, obviously, you also want to give your website an edge to separate it from your competitors. So, you might feel tempted to add a few elements here and there to set it apart.

Having fun with layouts and multimedia content on your website is an excellent idea to make your PT clinic’s website appealing and easy to use, but it’s important to think of your patients’ experience when you decide what and how much goes online.

Overstuffing your page with too much content or too many options can leave your clients confused and frustrated.

Here are the elements that could be hurting your physical therapy clinic’s site.

Content Overload

Content is of utmost importance to a PT clinic’s website. You need to show prospective patients that you are an expert in your niche and provide them with the information they need to decide. So, the more content your website has the better, right?

Well, not necessarily.

Yes, providing exhaustive information certainly won’t harm, but it won’t help either. In fact, one study found that people don’t go online to find content anymore. Instead, they rely on the recommendations they get from social media.  

And, that’s understandable. In a world that is drowning in content, people don’t have the time to sift through the massive amount of information that comes their way. So, they ask their network whenever they need something, whether it’s a new washing machine or a physical therapy specialist.

Click through Overload

According to Schwartz, when overcrowded with options, people can experience fatigue and end up deciding based on proximity, price or brand recognition. In some instances, they even abandon the process altogether.

Your prospective patients behave the same way when navigating your site.

Picture this: a patient visits your PT clinic’s website wanting to learn the cost of a certain procedure. Upon landing on your homepage, they are faced with multiple decisions. You’re asking them to sign up for a newsletter, leave a review on your social media page, and take part in a survey.

How do you think he or she feels?

More often than not, the patient is overwhelmed and ends up leaving your site without taking any action. As a result, your click-through rate drops lower.

Though your intentions may be good, the amount of effort a prospective patient must put in to navigate your PT clinic’s page can prove to be too much to handle.

Message Overload

Have you ever been to a website where you read every word they wrote and examined every image on the homepage, but you still weren’t sure what to do next? Those marketers have spent a lot of effort and resources to build a beautiful website and to write great content, but they forgot one essential element – if you want visitors to convert into leads, you need to tell them exactly what to do.

Communicating your message will not only help prospective patients understand what your PT clinic is all about, but it can also help them fight decision paralysis and turn them into leads or customers. The right message delivered to the right person at the right time can help prospects navigate through your conversion funnel.

How to Avoid Choice Overload

Now that we’ve gone through some of the possible elements that could be harming your website, it’s time to learn how to control them.

Guide Your Visitors

Think of the patients that land on your website as visitors in a museum. Sure, they can wander around by themselves and read about the exhibits, but it’s always easier and a lot more educational if they have a guide.

Make the navigation as simple and intuitive as possible. Don’t cram it with unnecessary buttons or options. In fact, your navigation bar shouldn’t feature more than five or six tabs.

If you must include certain tabs, then you could move the classic “Home,” “About,” and “Contact” buttons to the footer of the page.

Optimize your website by placing only the most important information at the top and organize the less urgent in sidebars or lower on the page. Play around with fonts and colors to let prospective patients know that buttons they should click.

Provide Fewer Choices

Have you noticed how Google only shows a limited number of results per page instead of forcing you to infinite scroll through tens of thousands of options? That is because having too many choices will reduce the engagement and satisfaction level of consumers. So, while you believe that you are making your audience a favor by adding another option to your website, you are in fact contributing to their decision fatigue.

To avoid choice overload, the obvious thing to do is to limit your visitors’ options. Segment choices into categories to help them navigate your website and to ease the complexity of evaluating the options you offer. Remove clutter by making important headlines bigger than the rest and by putting less urgent pieces of content on the side. Limit your home page to just five or six items.

Make It Easier for Patients to Decide

Sometimes, you just have to give your patients multiple choices, especially about prices or service plans. When this situation occurs, try to help your patients by providing them with recommendations.

It doesn’t matter if you provide them with “Recommended Services,” “Most Popular,” or “Best package for YOU.” What’s important is you help them decide without actually telling them what to choose. Especially in the health sector, patients might have a certain level of fear when having to choose between different options. By providing them with your expert input, you take some of that burden off their shoulders.

Make Your Contact Details Visible

It doesn’t matter how much content there is on your PT clinic’s homepage; some patients might want to contact you for more information or to set up a meeting. Make it easy for people to access your contact details regardless of the device they are using. For example, if patients visit your website from their mobile devices, then they should be able to call you just by clicking on your phone number. Needless to say, the phone number should be available on every page.

If you prefer to have a form integrated into the contact page, make sure not to overcrowd it with too many fields. Stick to basic information, such as name, age, email address, and their message.

Remember, the point of your website is to make it easier for potential patients to reach out to you. Try to make that process as simple as possible.


Giving too many options to your patients is not always a good idea. In fact, numerous studies have shown, too many choices overwhelm visitors and lead to decision paralysis.

The clearer and the more straightforward your physical therapy clinic’s website is, the higher the success rate. By taking out the unnecessary ‘choices,’ you enable your patients to decide and feel good about their choice.

If you want to design a PT website that looks professional and provides a flawless experience, but don’t know where to start, then you should get in touch with us. Browse our options to learn what PatientSites can do for you.

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