There's a saying that goes, "Don't sweat the small stuff."
This simple little quote tells us not to get too worked up over the tiny details in life, and to be more focused on the big picture. Most of the time, it's solid advice that can be applied in different situations. For example, someone working in a store might dwell over a sour experience with a customer, but fail to think about the fact that for that one unpleasant interaction, they had hundreds of customers that were polite and friendly. That is sweating the small stuff. One area in which this mentality should be avoided, however, is your small business website. Why? Obsessing over every little detail of your site could have a huge affect on conversion rates!
Social sharing buttons, or rather, the placement of social sharing buttons, helped AMD improve their conversion rate by 3800%. That's no typo! The computer manufacturing company, which uses its website primarily for support and marketing (rather than consumer sales) was looking to increase social traffic. They currently had buttons on their site for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, but wanted to see if the way these buttons are seen by visitors could affect their likelihood of clicking. What they found was that by increasing the size of the social media buttons, as well as their placement on the page (from footer, to right, and then to the left sidebar) they were getting a much higher conversion rate.
What are some psychological reasons that such a tiny design detail like this could improve conversion rates by as much as 38 times? The first is that of expectation—we as internet users have seen this configuration on many other sites (thanks in part to the Digg WordPress plugin that adds a social bar). Another simple reason for AMD's success is that they made those same social icons larger and easier to be found. Through their research, they learned that very few people were scrolling to the bottom of the page to find the footer, where the social icons once were. By having them featured prominently in a sidebar, it was much easier to click through and access their social accounts.
Finally, AMD took note of the psychological effect known as "F-shaped eye movements". This eye tracking study showed that the majority of readers (who read content from left to right) tend to do so in a "F" shaped pattern, first scrolling across the screen for content, and then looking back at the left side of the page and reading downward. Because of the placement of AMD's social media icons, they were more easily seen, leading to a much better conversion rate to their sites.
The next time someone tells you not to sweat the small stuff, don't believe them! Obsess and test every little detail of your small business website—it is sometimes the most minor of changes that can have a big impact on your ability to keep visitors on your site longer, and improve your conversion rate. Want more? For ideas on how you can further improve your website, check out our post on ecommerce tips!