Do Short Pages Convert Better Than Long Pages?

| Webdesign

ab-testingOne 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.

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About the author

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.