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More on the downside of "just fixing it"

In a post last month, I claimed that adding a single popup or widget to a page without testing it probably “can’t hurt,” but warned about the “slippery slope to Widgetsville.”

A reader, Tim Duke, called out a lack of clarity. Here’s his comment (shared with permission):

The middle of your post comes off as “even making this change without testing is a mistake and will lead to the world crumbling.”

I think you’re missing the callout that you should be aware of where to draw the line between Just Fix it and Let’s Test It. Specifically is it something like “we’re only allowed one modal to exist on a page” or no more than one widget per pageview?



One modal per page, one widget per page, and one primary CTA per page element. Unless you have data to support adding a second or third.

If you’re not using any modals at all, and would like to try an exit intent offer, go for it! Testing several versions is the best approach, but if traffic or priorities prevent that, just add it and keep an eye on it. I trust you.

But if you then decide you’d like to show a different modal when I scroll 2/3 down the page, please stop and test.

If you can demonstrate that having two popups on a single page brings more revenue to your business, go for it. But otherwise, you’re just making people’s eyeballs bleed for no reason.

The same goes for, say, trying out a chat widget. Testing it is a great way to measure its value (to make sure it’s worth what you’re paying), but the world won’t end if you just decide to add it, untested.

A month later, though, when you’re enticed by a charming customer reviews widget vendor, you’ve got a choice to make. Kill the chat widget? (What was the point of adding it in the first place?) Or have two widgets on the same page? Please please test this.

The world crumbles when you’ve piled up so many modals, buttons, and widgets that you can’t tell which ones help, which ones hurt, and which ones are just kinda there.

I’ve seen very smart people add three redundant CTAs to the same section of a site, and then be powerless to change, clean up, or remove any of them.

Even though the data indicated that one of the three received 80% of clicks, they worried that removing the other two would cost them business, or that the presence of the other two was somehow enhancing the appeal of the popular one. Analysis paralysis!

Adding the first CTA was a good idea. Adding the second and third was disastrous - maybe to conversions, definitely to the team’s ability to make decisions about their site.

One modal, one widget, one primary CTA. Be gentle on your visitors’ eyeballs and on your own brain.

    © 2024 Brian David Hall