Testing Button Colors

Many businesses go gaga over testing button colors. It’s often a fantasy that changing button colors can 10x conversions. That’s usually not the case.

On “It Depends,” Shiva and Paul explained that taking time and money to test button colors is often overrated. 

When is it worth exploring? They say there are three main considerations when it comes to button color testing: 

  • Tip #1: Consider the overall design
  • Tip #2: Consider your bandwidth
  • Tip #3: Consider strategic opportunities 

Tip #1: Consider the overall design

“I think everyone in the experimentation world is aware of the 99 shades of blue that Google have tried. And of course, essentially I think the story was they took a flavor of all of those and essentially it made no great difference. But I always like to push on this one a little bit, because I would say that whilst I wouldn't recommend testing button colors, there can be designs where there is a limited degree of affordance, or the CTA just doesn't have the kind of prominence that you're seeing. So it may not be button color, but it may be the size. It may be the text or something else. It's not a definite no. But I always like to say, if you want to turn it from a red to a blue and there's a white background, contrast level is probably going to be pretty similar,” Paul said.

 If you've got a black button, maybe there's a hesitation there of it being disabled or something like that. But if you’re debating shades of a color or changing it from one primary color to another, it may not be the right thing to prioritize unless you have all the bandwidth in the world.  

Tip #2: Consider your bandwidth

“Google, Bing lots of these companies have such high traffic that they can afford to do a button color test, and it probably will work for them. Because if you think about the math behind MDEs and calculating how long it'll take a test to run based on those changes, with the absurd volume that Google gets, it can absolutely do it,” said Shiva.

Limited bandwidth means you need to determine what’s practical. That's not to say button colors won't work. They do, and they can. But practically, if you have only 400 conversions a month, you shouldn't be prioritizing button color tests. 

Tip #3: Consider strategic opportunities 

“Maybe if you have a bunch of tests being built that are so hefty and you could quickly sneak in a button color test just to try it out, and it's part of a more strategic opportunity to draw more attention to the call to action because the research has shown that users are not finding the call to action,” said Shiva. “I think a lot of times people conflate it as button color tests don't work. They do work. It's just there's a level of practicality and prioritization,” Shiva said.

If you could test something that will theoretically lift your conversion rate and improve the UX user experience by 20%, you could test the button color. For a company like Google, a 1% lift is a lot of money. But for your business, a 1% lift on 400 versions probably isn't Google money. 

When it comes to button color tests, weigh your priorities and proceed wisely.

Stay tuned for the next It Depends episode

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