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For websites with large product portfolios and various Live Chat skills, is it better to have a chat invocation point that has a persistent placement throughout the experience or should chat be referenced in-page as it's needed?

I've seen examples of sticky toolbars or tabs that are on every page, but I've also seen examples of chat offered in-page next to UI components users may have questions about.

  • I personally hate it when I saw a chat button a few pages ago, but now that I have a question I can't find it. – Perchik May 29 '14 at 21:42
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In the way you have phrased the question, you have clearly stated "as it's needed" - if you know where it is needed, why would you show it in places it isn't needed?

Need is in the heart of the issue. A live chat offer is only useful when needed, when it's not, its an extraneous visual element.

A persistent live chat offer is often hard to ignore (depending on the visual design though). When such a feature exists, it is useful to make users aware of it. The homepage is a good place to put such offer - users can always come back to that page if they wish to chat. But a common knowledge in UX is that not all users land on the home page, many arrive from search engine into other pages.

First hand experience, with a system that had a small red rectangle at the bottom right corner, users has actively complained about it being there when they hardly need it. Nowadays you can easily reduce the footprint of such feature. Like showing a live chat rectangle when the users first enter the site, an animating it shortly after to a much smaller low-contrast icon.

But assuming the live chat feature is needed on each and every page is only valid on a few systems.

I think your main goals are:

  • Make sure users are aware of the feature and where to find it.
  • Minimise its visual footprint (size and how noticeable it is).

It is, after all, an on-demand feature: people should now where to find it, but not have it constantly in their face.

  • So, in summary: The invocation point should always appear in the same place, but only on pages where the chat service is needed. Correct? – Aaron Benjamin May 30 '14 at 16:10
  • Hmm.. not quite I believe? It depends on your particular case. Are you 100% sure on which pages the live chat feature will be needed? – Izhaki May 30 '14 at 16:32
  • Not exactly. The site offers shopping, account management, and support experiences. Chat will be needed in each flow, but maybe not on every page. – Aaron Benjamin May 30 '14 at 17:55
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According to my experience in the live chat industry, today everyone is switching to "tabs", i.e. chat buttons that stick to a particular spot of the browser window and are constantly visible. According to what I've heard from our clients, such button placement may increase the number of chats and potentially leads and conversions. So, I recommend you to try it.

There is one important point though. People who complain about chat buttons covering website content must be those who visit your website using a mobile device. I see how this can be annoying to them. But it is possible to change the chat button type for mobile users using CSS media queries or scripts that detect mobile browsers.

  • Thanks Irene! Are there any case-studies you could point me to that support this placement? – Aaron Benjamin Jun 9 '14 at 21:17
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    I'm afraid I don't have any, sorry. This is my own conclusion from what I've seen and heard while working in live chat industry for many years. – Irene Rogers Jun 11 '14 at 4:09

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