16 June 2007

Call to Action: Hierarchical Cruciality in Colors & Their Intensity

Throughout my recent experiments and tests which I have been running, a notion occured to me of which I have found it difficult to uncover any existing, definitive, and supported best practices. This notion, which for lack of formal acknowledgement I will call hierachical cruciality, is that which may or may not state that people will respond to calls to action based on their position within a path to conversion with a correlative level of intensity of the calls. By saying that, I should more clearly state, I mean that choosing button colors and their intensity should be based on their linear point within a funnel to conversion. It is my theory that not only is the color and intensity important, but that the path-relative color and intensity tuned at the right frequency may, at the outcome of my experiment, lead to substantial increases in feature-specific use as well as conversion.

I've recently read a blog by Jonathan Mendez, I believe its called Optimize&Prophesize, located at http://www.optimizeandprophesize.com, which I thought was somewhat insightful in my quest to uncover current best practices with regard to my topic. In it, Mendez said that he had uncovered through his multivariate tests that the use of a single button or color for buttons and calls to action accross a site was flawed. His testing, he asserted, uncovered the fact that people in different paths react differently to the same stimuli. He listed several factors with respect to buttons and colors specifically that leant themselves to the optimization of certain funnels. I thought this was brilliant. Although a little intensive to implement I think his findings are probably very accurate.

In the case of CableOrganizer.com, pathing reports consistently yield statsitical data which tells me that paths are as unique as the individuals that click-through them. To assume that each of these individual paths and significant funnels react to the same cues is naive. However, being able to predict the behaviors and adjust to them with the appropriate cues is inherently very difficult. So then, the case becomes a matter of testing the most significant and valuable path and optimizing that path with the best variations for maximized outcome.

As a subcomponent of my theory, I would like to state that Orange is the 'New Red'. I think red is a very action-evoking color, don't get me wrong. However, I would be willing to assert that the color red, while valuable in its ability to get the users attention, is not a single powerful cue. Further, as cited by many, it can be related to many negative connotations which often repel as frequently as they entice. 'Red' is the color of debt, imagine that thought as you plan on using your high-interest credit card. It is also the color of danger and several hundred other apprehension illiciting sentiments. Orange, a vibrant alternative, has less volatile implications and can be very visible in digital media. Of course, any good analyst at this point should be saying, prove it.

CableOrganizer.com recently implemented an on-site, action promoted minicart. The packaged button for this cart was a red image with a size 10 font which said "checkout". It was nearly invisible and somewhat repulsive when the cart was brought up after adding an item. Immediately, I thought back to our usability tests and the functional invisibility of our shopping cart. Previously we had used a yellow button. That stunk. Then, we used this red, which was also visibility impaired. So, I created a sizeable orange version. Outcome? Well, suffice it to say that currently, having collected custom link data for more than a few days, more than 40% of the people exposed to the button click on it. My estimation is that, when significant data can be collected on this particular instance, this change will have positively impacted conversion by as much as 10%. In our context that's saying from 2.7% conversion to 2.97% conversion, but, over the course of a year, or more, that is significant.

My goal, now, is to uncover a comprehensive color-based mapping for behavior which could be implemented to our site for the purpose of meeting the de facto policy of cableorganizer.com with a sophisicated method of presenting action elements which are ideal for their position within the funnel and enhancing user experience. Doing so should yield significant positive gains and a cross-section of business to business customer behaviors which could be applied accross the industry in best practices models. Further, it may provide insights to human behaviors and user behaviors online which would be applicable accross cultures and industries.

I would like to ask anyone with interest in this particular study to submit and research, comments, observations, or experiences through this blog or via an email as to aid in my preparation of elements and to make all possible considerations. While this is work related, it may need a significant amount of time dedicated which my employment may or may not make consideration of. If any person is willing to, in a pro bono fashion, provide elements or ideas, please also submit those by these means.


Dylan Lewis said...

Hi Daniel,

The Persuasion Architecture model, by the Eisenbergs at FutureNow, also supports this theory - that each persona has a different set of needs and wants that will make the one size fits all website fail to meet the needs of all site visitors.

To say it another way, different personas will see the same site differently.

I have set up a Web Optimization area at the WikiWebAnalytics.com to help with the documentation.

I look forward to the discussion of best practices in web optimization.


Dylan Lewis

Christopher Regan said...

Hello Daniel,

Let me extend (second?) Dylan's comments -- that you park the results of your Best Practices results within WikiWebAnalytics.

As to color, I recall reading a small section within Nancy Massey's site regarding the use of Orange -- I've mulled it over for many years. Then, when thinking of what colors would be best for a recently launched placeholder website for a tiny web shop (here in Newport Beach, CA) I simply insisted on Orange. The Managing Partner asked "why orange?". I simply said, "trust me on this." He shrugged; it works. One client there was looking to red, yet I again insisted on orange (here -- also not fully launched).

There is, I sense at this point in visitors' color history, an upbeat, sincerely authoritative, and gentle feel to the orange(s). Now, if we're all out there in our SEO spheres pushing orange, then, well, we'll witness the reaction to what might have "once" been a best practice.