The Paralysis of Choice

I’ve been staring at WordPress themes for hours on end and am going cross-eyed.  There are just too many choices.  The problem is that I’ve been laboring under the foolish notion that somewhere out there is the perfect WordPress theme for me.  Dumb!

The reality is that in blogging (as with many* things), all we need is a good enough choice.  The hunt for the perfect choice is just another way of delaying the need to make a commitment.  No matter what you’ve heard, we now know that there is really no guarantee that if you hunt longer you’ll find perfection.  In fact, Barry Schwartz tells us in the Paradox of Choice that most of the time the only reward for the painstaking weighing of too many choices is  — too much stress.

Now think about how we approach knowledge management projects.  If we listen to the siren song of vendors, we all too often choose projects with big budgets and big expectations.  As a result, every decision is fraught because the price of failure is high.  After all, how do you tell the partners in your law firm that you’ve spent thousands of their dollars on a “good enough” (but definitely not perfect, and possibly not great) solution?

Somehow we have to change our mode of operating, moving away from big productions worthy of Cecil B. DeMille, and closer to an indy film created with a camcorder.  When the stakes are lower, we are less likely to succumb to the paralysis of choice.  And then, a solution that is “good enough” suddenly becomes … perfect.

* Just for the record, nothing I’ve written here should be construed to apply to the choice of a significant other — especially if that person is reading this  blog!

[Photo credit:  Gregor Rohrig, Creative Commons License]

3 thoughts on “The Paralysis of Choice

  1. Mary – If it helps, I have a few tips on choosing WP themes. I find the following strategy works well (although it still allows for a bit of shopping around).

    Decide on the basics.

    What colour should predominate?
    How many columns?
    Widgets in sidebars or a footer?
    Fixed width or re-sizable?
    Stylesheet for printing or not?
    Custom image in the header?
    Serif or sans-serif typeface?
    Small caps for headings or upper/lower case?
    Anything else…?

    Now apply these criteria rigorously — any theme that doesn’t meet them gets binned.
    Go theme shopping — you will find that there is less choice and so less opportunity for paralysis.
    Be prepared to change (just as @elsua did).

    Have fun!

    1. Mark –

      Thanks a million for your good advice. As so often happens in life, we sometimes get stuck for lack of a guidepost. Thanks for providing this guidepost to theme shopping and thereby helping me narrow the range of available choices in a sensible way. Now, I’m off to do some shopping!

      – Mary

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