I am working on a content management system. As the app is growing, more and more content types are being requested (Think of content types as "Widgets"). I would imagine future state may have 10-15 content types.

I am wondering which is better,

Option A:
Multiple content types with specific functionality (less input fields, etc.)
Multiple Specific Widget Buttons
Options Specific to a countdown widget type

Option B:
Less content types with optional functionality (more inputs and controls to select to customize)
Fewer widget types with more function options
Image widget with example checkbox to make it have a countdown

In these examples, I am showing a countdown option. In general the button triggers a modal where options (inputs fields, upload boxes, etc.)exist. My gut is telling me lot's of widgets, less options rather than few widgets, lot's off options, the latter is too much cognitive load, etc. But I am not 100% sure. Thank you in advance for you thoughts!

  • 1
    Could you please give more insight into the context of use? Commented Nov 29, 2017 at 9:10

4 Answers 4


One danger of many content types is that their differences may not be clear to the user. Having many content types, you force the user to make an early decision about features whose availability with the chosen type may not be known to the user.

Whether that's an issue in your case depends on your content types and available functions. You can test that with users easily: Hand them a set of cards with all functions and ask them to place the cards into boxes representing content types. Be sure to use final terms and imagery. If they all put the cards into the correct boxes, you're safe.


Not knowing all of the variables within the 10-15 different content types you’re looking at, it’s tough to fully understand.

But, I think fewer widgets with more options isn't always the best user experience. This may seem like a good idea because you're funneling the user, but you're ultimately just creating more clicks and forcing the user to click on something, they ultimately may not want to. (due to hidden functions or features)

Also, because you’re limiting the number of options from the start (an arbitrary figure?) you’re greatly limiting the ability to create any new widgets in the future, just more options.

I like the idea of a larger pool of widgets specific to the necessary functionality. You can create as many different widgets you need while also allowing for future growth. This gives a better platform to iterate and refine an entire widget versus multiple individual parts. Aka, component library.

You're also allowing the user to choose the appropriate content type from the start of their journey rather than midway, ideally, resulting in fewer clicks. When it comes to repeated tasks, I believe it's best to give the user the option they need upfront.

Hope this helps.


Hick's law is a maximum number, not a minimum number. If you only need 4 options, you shouldn't use 8 just because that's closer to 7.

Your example seems to have the option for a countdown in every type of content? If so, doubling the amount of choices is a higher mental load than adding an option inside a choice.

Example, choosing an iphone is done with steps; generation, regular or plus, color, storage. In total that's something like 2x2x3x2 = 24 phone variations. But each step is a choice with few options, thus easy to make. You're not comparing 24 phones, you're comparing 4 phones (generation, screensize) with some options.

Similarly, in your case you should have 4 types and 1 option to choose. In the first step they choose a content type, then they fill out non-optional info (like an url, or in the iphone example a shipping address) and then you let them choose whether or not to have a countdown.

If you feel that adding all the fields for a countdown are 'too much to comprehend' put them in an accordion so people just have to choose yes/no at first and only if they want a countdown show them the field. You could later even expand on this by adding a second accordion for another feature.


I think it may be helpful to spread the choices between the two steps of the flow, so neither gets a lot. Perhaps it would also be helpful to distinguish between frequently used widgets and niche/pro/advanced widgets. That way you would display the common ones larger and the others smaller/collapsed/hidden. The actual editors can stay simpler and the initial screen guides the user to what they most likely need.

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