Do Short Pages Convert Better Than Long Pages?

ab-testing

One of our favorite tools at OSTraining is Optimizely.

Optimizely is a tool that makes it really easy to do A/B testing on your sites. We’ve been using it for well over a year now.

A/B testing is really interesting, but it can also be frustrating. Unless you have 100,000s of visitors every week, it can take a long time to get statistically meaningful results and even when you do, many tests only produce very small changes in conversion rates.

The only thing that has consistently managed to improve our conversion rates is using shorter pages.

Homepage

One of the pages we test more than any other is our homepage. The image below shows how the homepage looks normally.

There’s at least 11 different items on this homepage:

  1. Logo
  2. Login box
  3. Main menu
  4. Search box
  5. Main call to action (orange)
  6. Main image
  7. Statistics
  8. Sample videos
  9. Testimonials
  10. Menus
  11. Contact details
media_1378234950843.png

We A/B tested that homepage against this shorter version with only 6 items:

  1. Logo
  2. Login box
  3. Main menu
  4. Main call to action (orange)
  5. Main image
  6. Statistics
media_1378235759159.png

What was the end result?

The shorter page below sent 15% more visitors to our pricing page and 40% more people to our registration page.

Older homepage

The same thing happened with an older iteration of our homepage.

Here’s an early 2012 version of our site with 6 menu links:

media_1378229727181.png

Simply reducing the number of menu links to 4 increased the traffic sent to our pricing page by 19%.

media_1378229798553.png

Pricing page

What worked for the homepage also worked for our pricing page.

Here’s a version of our pricing page with a description of our plans and a detailed FAQ area.

long.png

We removed both of those elements and ended up with a much shorter pricing page:

media_1378229056231.png

The shorter page version sent 18% more people to our checkout page.

We’ve tested many version of our pages with Optimizely and I can not find an example where the longer page has been more effective than a shorter version.

Short doesn’t win for every site

Based on our results, simply by shortening our pages, we can get 15% to 20% more people to our pricing page and then 18% more moved on our checkout page. That’s a significant increase.

However, it’s worth A/B testing with your own audience before you start chopping elements away from your own homepage.

The interesting thing to me about these results, is that we started exactly with the opposite assumption.

Conversion Rate Experts have a case study on SEOmoz where the longer page won decisively. The longer page was in fact 6 times longer than the original page. What worked for SEOmoz didn’t work for us.

media_1378236451827.png

Instructor

  • Steve is the founder of OSTraining. Originally from the UK, he now lives in Sarasota in the USA. Steve's work straddles the line between teaching and web development.

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daveburstein

“Long copy is a mistake, except where it isn’t” David Ogilvey, legendary ad man

steve

Thanks Dave. That’s the perfect quote for this.
I’ve got his “Ogilvy on Advertising” book and it’s full of examples of long copy working well … for some audiences.

sritchie

Thank you for the Optimizely and SEOmoz recommendations and sharing your experiences.
However, I do wonder if your changes are actually helping people find the information they want/need on your site, or if they are visiting the pricing pages because they are unsure of how to find other content. Do you have bounce rates/ customers surveys, etc. that show that customers are actually looking for content on the pricing page?

steve

Hi stephanie
That’s a good point.
Honestly, this blog is by the far the most popular part of the site for non-members so our homepage gets a fraction of the traffic. Nearly all of those people come in via Google.
However, it’s much harder to run A/B tests because that traffic is split over 1000+ blog posts.

jgdiver50

With 15% more visitors to pricing & 40% more to registration, did your overall conversion rate change?
If down, maybe Stephanie is on to something.
If the rate is even or up, good on ya.
I’m a big fan of short & uncluttered.
I believe that today, even for the right audience, long copy needs a quick hitting ‘this is what I’m gonna tell you’ lead in.

steve

Hi Jgdriver50. That’s a good point too. We’ve struggled to define an overall conversion rate because such a high % of our visitors are not here to buy, just read the blogs.
But yes, we are converting more people once they’re on a sales page.

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