Kerry is a prolific technology writer, covering a range of subjects from design & development, SEO & social, to corporate tech & gadgets. Co-author of SitePoint’s Jump Start HTML5, Kerry also heads up digital content agency markITwrite and is an all-round geek.
When it comes to calls to action, ‘button color’ is one of the classic metrics to A/B test. It’s also a hot discussion topic on design forums, if this Stack Exchange UX discussion is anything to go by.
In the discussion, a user asks:
Which option is more intuitive for the user?
Here are the two options he presents:
Whilst one reader dismissed the options out of hand — citing the reasons as being 10% of males are red/green color blind — the question certainly raised a lot of intelligent debate.
This included discussion on the psychological meaning of color, along with the platform used and the physical placement of the buttons.
What Color Means
As far as online standard usage goes, red has been commonly associated with delete. It also typically denotes danger in Western civilisations — think of stop signs, fire engines and tail lights.
As Anum Khan pointed out in her January article for SitePoint on color psychology and design, in an ideal world, a client would simply accept all of a designer’s ideas and they’d be left to get on with it.
However, it’s rare that this happens in reality and so a designer has to fit in with the ideas of a client and the client’s marketing department. This often leads to a discussion of A/B testing, with the idea that different designs can be applied and tested on various groups in order to see which is the more effective.
What is A/B Testing?
Firstly, let’s have a look at what A/B testing is and why it’s a good idea to carry it out. A/B testing is, as mentioned, sending two (or more) different designs to separate groups in the target audience in order to determine which is received best.
Each version can vary in small or significant ways. Commonly, these differences include a call to action (CTA), colors, input forms, special offers, text or anything that induces a visitor to remain on the site or take action.
However, it’s also worth pointing out that a recent study has found many A/B testing results were misleading, if they weren’t carried out correctly. This means that before you embark on testing, you should have the following:
- A good-sized ‘sample’ – this is the number of people involved in the test and will depend on the traffic that the site gets. Some advice on managing sample sizes is at Evan’s Awesome A/B Tools.
- A plan for how long the testing will run for – many people make the mistake of stopping a test as soon as it shows positive results, which again produces false results. Some guidelines on this at Visual Optimizer.
- Testing software and Google Analytics
A recent report by Qubit’s Martin Goodson asserted that Most Winning A/B Test Results Are Illusory, due, for the most part, to such tests being badly executed. According to the author, this is something that can lead not only to the ‘needless modification of websites’, but also in some cases can do damage to a company’s profitability.
So why is this the case and how can designers and businesses ensure that if A/B testing (also known as split testing) is carried out, it’s done properly and effectively?
What is A/B Testing?
To start with a quick primer, A/B testing is a way to compare two versions of a web page (it might be, for example, a landing page) to see which of the two versions performs the best. To carry out a test, two groups of people will each see a different page and results are measured by how the groups interact with each page.
For example, a page that contains a strong call-to-action (CTA) in a certain area of the page may be pitted against another that is similar, but has the CTA in a different place and might use different wording or color.
It’s been a tough year or so for many SEO companies – particularly those that don’t follow the rules when it comes to black hat techniques, especially with regard to links. I’ve always been of the opinion that quality wins out and while you can tweak for SEO, chasing links through poor content is always going to raise some Google eyebrows or worse – a manual penalty.
The major algorithm changes that the search engine has made in recent years with regard to content have meant that many companies have found their sites pretty much disappearing from the index. Why? Because they have not followed the rules, either deliberately or accidentally.
The value of social media has been questioned extensively over the past few years, with many skeptical it can really prove beneficial and provide a good return on investment. It’s taken a little time, but most SMBs and large organizations alike now realize that social media is an excellent driver when it comes to traffic and reputation. We’re seeing more and more creative use of social media, better branded accounts and even better, the ability to use social media properly.
By this I mean, using social media as it was meant to be used. As a means for promotion, with a friendly (social) tone, to facilitate great customer service and generate excellent feedback. Of course, some companies still struggle with getting it right and for the most part, this is due to a lack of time, resources and the understanding of just how it can benefit a business.
With this in mind, how is it possible to prove ROI to clients in order to convince them that it’s worth the time and effort?
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