Hello average person,
I spend a lot of time thinking about how to improve user experiences. Sometimes, I take my ideas and create experiments to get hard data about how users behave in the real world.
At the bottom of most posts here, there’s a phrase with a link to my Twitter account. I had originally added this as an informational message, but it ended up being more effective than I expected. I started to wonder if I could increase the clickthrough rate even more by altering the way it was worded.
I'd been thinking about using commands instead of statements for guiding users through an interface, so I decided to test forceful phrasing. Each of the permutations I chose was randomly selected so that it was seen by 5,000 unique visitors to various articles on dustincurtis.com over the period of a couple hours in the afternoon (PST).
I actually tried many more permutations than I show here. I only discuss the most interesting ones below and describe my thought process along the way.
Starting with a statement.
This is the original phrasing I used, and it led to a 4.70% clickthrough rate.
Switching to a command
The result of switching to a command is pretty remarkable; the clickthrough rate jumped by 55% to 7.31%.
As a side note, I also found that using a lower case “t” for Twitter in this phrase and the ones below (but, for some reason, not the first one) led to a slightly higher rate of clicks (up to 6% more). I can’t really think of any rational reason for this except that a lowercase “t” makes the phrase look more like an uninterrupted sentence.
Trying a stronger personal command
Making the phrase more direct and personal by adding the words “you should” increased the clickthrough rate by 38% to 10.09%.
Adding the literal callout “here”
There has been a lot of discussion about labeling links with literal callouts for the action or word to click. The appendages for “here” and “click here” are contextually messy and visually ugly, but if they improve usability, it might be a worthy tradeoff. For this test, I was curious about how it would affect the raw clickthrough rate.
This result surprised me. Simply adding “here” as the link at the end of the phrase increased the clickthrough rate by 27% to 12.81%.
As the forcefulness and personal identifiability of the phrase increased, the number of clicks likewise increased. "You" identifies the reader directly, "should" implies an obligation, and "follow me on twitter" is a direct command. Moving the link to a literal callout "here" provides a clear location for clicking. I tried other permutations that dulled the command, used the word "please" in place of "should" and made the whole sentence a link. None of them performed as well as the final sentence.
At the very least, the data show that users seem to have less control over their actions than they might think, and that web designers and developers have huge leeway for using language to nudge users through an experience. •
Addendum Several readers have suggested that the length of the sentence could have accounted for the difference in clickthrough. I controlled for this with several longer but dulled statements, such as "Will you please follow me on Twitter here?" While the rate for these control statements did increase slightly, it was not significant enough for me to discuss here.
Of course, you should follow me on twitter here.