You can choose from 1000 items on the menu! Great restaurant right? Wrong. Most people are overwhelmed with choice and selction. The book Paradox of Choice is all about this. Think about that 1,000 item 40 page Chinese menu as a case in point, is it really fun or perplexing?
Many marketing and design concepts are highly counter intuitive. The paradox of choice is about the less is more concept. Think i-pod versus some all in one MP3 player.
More isn't better, more is usually confusing and carries what in consumer psychology is known as a "high cognitive load".
Many time a high cognitive load choices leads to no choice being taken. Think about confusing ecommerce sites that allow you to make a million choices or customization for insurance, financial services, surveys etc. They fail, because they are perceived as hard or onerous.
We don't want infinite choice. We trust the brand and providers of goods and services to intuit the 2-8 thing we care about. That's what brands do the provide the choices we know they represent. Mercedes is going to choose good expensive great cars. Wal-mart is going to bring us cheap stuff. This rule works most of the time.
Google is a great at reducing cognitive load in service design, the "higher" functions and tools are hidden from users, unless they want power features. This insures brand cohesiveness and clean experience.
When designing a marketing message, purchasing process or product you should seriously consider the hidden user cost of that extra feature. Too often the cost of adding a new feature is low from a $ software perspective so the team throws it in.
However by watching or listening to real user feedback, many times designers and product managers learn that extra features, messages etc. actually turn people off. High cognitive load tasks aren't what we want in most of the goods and services we seek. We don't want to order a hamburger with a lot of involvement vs. customizing a home remodelling project.
The book Paradox of choice is all about this. If you design sites, think about the hidden cost of clutter and features. Dump the junk and make it clean. Apple does this well. I would recommend reading the paradox of choice if you design, sell or communicate in any capacity.
Our current design in the US is all too much about extra cup holders and more options in the car and not about making the engine more efficient. In the 1950's by and large US design was arguably much better.
Today BMW even messed this up with infamous and horrible i-drive There are some great solutions to this involving grouping concepts together, eliminating pointless features or making things manual. Constraints usually produce better design and you should find the most demanding users to define ease of use for your products. Ideally the experience should deliver customer / user delight. It was that easy, plug and play, a breeze a smile.
Making a great product quite often means design by fanatic and not committee. Committees create cup holders and that one extra button. Obsessives create i-pods. I love working with passionate customer experience obsessed fanatics. We don't need cup holders and more buttons. We need to revolutionize transportation. Thing bold. Act bold. Do bold. :)