Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Button Button, Who’s Got the Button?

My colleagues and I have been chatting a lot about buttons this week. Yes, it’s been that kind of week. 
Can a seemingly insignificant web button make a difference in how a business to business website, direct marketing email, or newsletter generates leads? 
You betcha!
How a button is designed; colored; written and placed on a page makes a big impact in how prospects behave after opening up an email or visiting a website.
The “click to take an action” button comes in a range of varying shapes, sizes and styles. Conventional wisdom reminds us to consider the following.

---Text   Using images or icons on buttons makes them more useful, for sure. An icon makes it clearly obvious to the user as to what function the button provides. For instance, an arrow indicates that a button guides to the next or previous step or page.The text depicted on a button is also critical, and should be short, concise, and indicate what will happen when the button is clicked. Command verbs rule. (I.e. “Register Now” button takes the visitor to a registration page; “Download Free Paper” takes the prospect to a Resource Center 

--- Design  Buttons come in a variety of shapes – the highest performers are rounded and somewhat dimensional like a keyboard button. 

Again, wiser folks than I regularly perform A/B testing to see what design produces optimal results.  Their findings show that the highest performing buttons look clickable and clearly portray what will happen when clicked. Sticking with a recognizable standard (rounded corners) is likely a good strategy. 

--- Operation   The ‘hover state’ and ‘click state’ of a button can mimic the physical reality of clicking a key on a keyboard, complete with a clicking sound.  All these operational elements have been tested.  Again, the standard operations always perform best (a clicked button that looks “depressed” is what a user expects.)

--- Color  Once again, this is an area where user testing is critical. Lots of studies out there that concentrate on this one issue. I can’t imagine doing this for my day job, but there are many studies that show yellow is the highest performing button color, and can make a huge difference to an e-commerce site. Next time you browse eBay or Amazon, check out the button colors!

--- Placement  Much has been written and studied about button placement.  I can’t add too much of value here, other than to note that providing multiple buttons and calls to action on a website is proven to increase conversion rates and performance. 

Consider Your Buttons

If the goal of a website, direct email, or eNewsletter is to convince a prospect to take action, consider your buttons.  Making it easy for a user to find a button and take action will make all the difference in your programs.

And if you can, A/B test.  In the case of a direct mail, send out one message with one type of button; and the same exact message with a different button design.  See which one performs the best. 

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