Using buttons as CTAs (Calls to Action) vs. Text Links
3 Jun 2010 - 9:20am
In our work, everyone (stakeholders) wants to use a graphical button for their CTAs, often asking for multiple such buttons on a single page. The notion is that these will drive a higher conversion rate... ON THOSE links. (These are not form submits, remember.) A proof of concept was done late last year to test the effectiveness of buttons vs. links on a particular page. Here was the scenario:
Top segment homepage, containing the following...
Hero banner with graphical button on it, located at the top of page directly below navigation
New row below hero, full width, with another graphical button for yet another bit of content
OPTION A: 3rd row, split into 3 blocks (columns), each with a blurb of content, and a text link for each. (You end up seeing just the 2 buttons - hero and 2nd row)
OPTION B: 3rd row, split into 3 blocks (columns), each with a blurb of content,
and a BUTTON for each. (You end up seeing 5 buttons on the page)
They were testing the hypotheses that the Option B (total of 5 buttons) would be more distracting than using text links. The test showed a higher click-through on Option B, to each of those lower-level items. Thus, our analytics team came back with the resounding - and publicly pronoucnced - "Buttons are obviously not distracting" conclusion; to which I responded: I might argue they obviously WERE distracting because that 3rd row of cotnent is of lower importance in the hierarchy than the banner and/or the 2nd row. I argued that we didn't track what users did after clicking on those lower-level CTA buttons in order to identify whether the visitor in fact got any benefit out of it. Furthermore, and stepping back a level, what was the action we wanted people to take more often (hero? smaller ctas?).
All this to ask:
What is your thinking on the topic of using graphical buttons in lieu of text links?
Is there even a need to delineate any longer between form / submit actions (buttons) and the action of a text link? (I feel I'm struggling with my old-school notions, yet I want to find research that discusses the options)
Any other considerations I should explore?
I've attached the recent item that came through: a video 'wrapper' that has 4 buttons at the bottom. We are trying to standardize our video player space, and as I stated earlier, everyone wants buttons.