This is my friend, BOB

BOB - Big Orange Button
Have you been introduced to BOB? Or Big Orange Button, as it’s also known. Touted as the solution to your conversion problems, it’s the colour you should be using to draw attention to your ‘call to action’ button.

Or is it?

The effectiveness of one colour over another on CTAs is one of those constantly recurring subjects that has been back on my radar recently, courtesy of some research we’ve been conducting for a client.

There’s a lot of conflicting research on this subject. While there is a lot to be said for colour theory and its effect on consumer behaviour in this area, BOB may not be the holy grail of call to action buttons. For example, colour theory tells us that yellow is shown to attract window shoppers, blue instils trust and security and is often used by banks and businesses, while red is very obviously used to create a sense of urgency and energy – especially during sale periods. Orange goes along the same lines as red, a strong, warm colour that creates awareness and draws attention to an area.

Numerous tests have shown how effective orange is on a page when compared to the original ‘test’ button in A/B tests, creating a surge of conversion clicks. So by rights, the internet should be awash in a sea of Big Orange Buttons, right?

Well, not always.

To start with, a lot of those tests aren’t true A/B – the button shape is changed, the text is made much more urgent, the offer varies, etc.  Plus, I can point you to at least one ‘definitive test’ that shows blue buttons win out, so “so much for that bit of online marketing dogma” (their phrase, not mine).

As in most things, context is everything.

It really depends on your page. If you were the mobile provider Orange, then an orange call to action button will just be lost in the rest of your links, and the meaning would not be immediately understood. Likewise if you were Vodafone, it wouldn’t make any sense to have a red call to action button, as it would be fighting for attention among the other brand elements – green would be far more effective, as it’s on the opposite side of the colour wheel, though in fact they seem to favour purple.

Important as colour is to draw attention to action buttons, it’s not the be-all and end-all, and there is certainly no single magic ‘conversion colour’. There are a number of other factors to be considered, such as positioning of the button, wording, and other additions like imposing a time limit on certain offers that have all have significant effect on conversion rates.  Most importantly, a CTA has to achieve standout. The user’s eye needs to be drawn to it more than anything else on your page, so contrast will beat colour. It’s telling that the ‘dogma’ article, which so definitively thinks it’s rubbished orange, doesn’t show the rest of the page that blue worked so well in. Was it all otherwise shades of red and orange?

The crux of the matter is that no amount of colour theory is relevant unless you understand your target audience. Without proper conversion research for the brand that you’re working on, you won’t get very far. Via our ongoing research for our clients, and regular testing, when we’re asked the “what’s the best colour?” question we can securely say there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, and that every site should be tailored for its audience, and the brand it represents.

Having said that, maybe orange is your colour. Would you like us to test that for you?