At AddThis, we do our homework. We monitor analytics, talk to our publishers, and watch real people use real products. We’re big fans of data-informed design. We believe the best work comes from the powerful combination of creativity and insights.
Today, we’re going to share some insights we’ve discovered in our research that can help you improve the tools on your site to maximize engagement.
1. Put Follow Buttons at the Top
When people want to follow a brand, they go up. We watched as person after person scrolled to the top of the page, as soon as they considered following. One of our testers explained:
“I expect them to be across from the logo.”
Most sites ask people to follow an entire brand, not a specific page or piece of content. So it makes sense that users would expect these options to be near your branding. Your footer might be the next stop for users (since it is also a common place for brand-level details), but your best bet is up top.
Pro tip: Including an RSS button can help people notice your follow options. The orange background and white lines stand out and seem to remind people that they can subscribe for updates and quick links back to the site.
2. Keep Share Buttons Near Your Content
You never know when the urge to share is going to strike, but chances are it will happen while a visitor is fully immersed in your content. Unlike following, the act of sharing is all about the content on the page, not the brand. People want share buttons to be instantly available as they browse. Putting buttons directly below the main content usually works very well.
However, floating share buttons that remain visible as people scroll down a page will work better for sites with long articles. There’s a good chance people will want to share before they reach the end of a long piece, and if they don’t see the buttons right away they may change their mind.
Pro tip: Don’t overload your visitors with several duplicate share tools. Too many buttons for the same share action will confuse people (especially if they’re visible at the same time). Some will start to question if they even know what the different buttons do.
3. Put Relevant Links Below Your Content
Visitors that reach the very end of an article or bottom of a page are often hungry for more. They appreciate when the main content of a page is followed by links to other pages where they can continue to explore, if they’re interested.
Slide-in and pop-up surfaces can be easily missed. When people are focused on reading something in-the-page, they’re very good at ignoring things over-the-page.
Pro tip: Make sure your recommended links don’t look like advertisements. If your design makes them look too much like a banner or text ad, many will skip over them (even if it’s exactly what they’re looking for). If you aren’t sending them off to another site, use the design to make it clear and you have a better chance at grabbing their attention.
That’s all for today! We’ll continue to share more insights with you as we go.
Let us know if you have any questions in the comments below.