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Say that a website has a "contact us" form and button and a "start free trial" button that should both be persistently displayed as the user navigates around the site...Should they both be given equal weight? If not - and this is a more general question - how does one decide how to prioritise between two competing calls to action that will appear on the same screen?

In this case, the client does obviously want more users to start the free trial than sending them emails, but it is unclear if they have done enough objection-handling on the site for most users to want to do that...

  • No one really knows. That is where multivariate testing comes in to help. You just throws up hundreds of different tiny experiments and find out which one works the best. It uses A/B testing for each combination and finds the statistically most successful at the user performing the intended action. – Chloe Mar 9 '14 at 23:13
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The weightage of your call to actions should be defined by your end user goals and which call to action you want your users to click.

Hence the call to action which you think is more important for your business should be stronger as opposed to the secondary call to action. So in your case if you feel getting users to sign up for a free trial is more important than asking them to contact you, your free trial call to action button should be more prominent.

Here are some examples of how sites have used multiple call to actions and ensured the focus is higher on one call to action. To quote an example from an article on UX Booth

enter image description here

Laura Ashley arrived at this design following mulivariate testing of 5 different options on their live website, including their original one. This page enjoyed 11% more clickthroughs to the checkout page than the company’s original basket page.

One of the other options tested was practically identical to this one. The only real differences being:

  • The "update shopping bag" link was a grey button, placed in-between the 2 buttons shown here.
  • The "Go to checkout" button was dark gray instead of green

It too was more successful than the original page but enjoyed only 3% more clickthroughs. These 2 apparently minor differences, equated to a significant difference (7% uplift) in the number of people proceeding to checkout.

Wufoo is another example of how you can give significant weight-age to a secondary call to action but position in your primary call to action so that it has the most weight-age as users scan the page. To quote this smashing magazine article

Wufoo offers two actions that the user can take in a horizontally arranged fashion with the primary desired action on the left. The buttons are large and very hard to miss, yet they are not obtrusive when looking at the overall design.

enter image description here

Alternatively if you feel your secondary call to action should not have much prominence, you can go the link route as done by Xero

enter image description here

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  • Fantastic answer, thank you so much. Will just wait a bit to see if anyone else responds as well :) – zakgottlieb Mar 9 '14 at 18:42

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