A/B Testing Lightbox Screenshot vs. Screenshot + Download Link

Everybody paying attention to this blog recently knows I have an unhealthy fascination with Lightboxes, particularly my new favorite iBox.  I like them because they work really well at increasing conversions, most recently in my shopping cart.  (Incidentally, guys, I went back and reset the test.  It really is about 100% improved over the old version.)

So this week I removed the old Lightbox lightbox from my home page and replaced it with an iBox.  I haven’t looked in any rigorous fashion whether that improved things or not — I just did it to cut a few kilobytes off all the Javascript people have to download to use my site, and also because I think the iBox looks cooler out of the box.

Then I noticed that the iBox introduces a loading screen, which the old lightbox did as well.  I hate load screens.  When I see them I think “This is me, losing money”.  Because if two seconds to load the shopping cart cost me half of my potential sales then 2 seconds to look at a screenshot must likewise be suboptimal, and MANY people look at the screenshot (something like 20% of the people who view the page, if CrazyEgg is counting right).

Also, unlike Lightbox, iBox can cause you to get dumped direct to image if you click before the script loads.  Bad news, bears, that means a bounce for most of my users.  I got around this by putting onclick=”false” on the relevant links.

Many, many moons ago (in late 2007!) I experimented with adding blue instructory text to the lightboxed image, exhorting people to download the trial.  That was a crashing failure — it looked like a link but if you clicked it, wham, the image vanished.  But I sort of like the general idea, so it is time for a new split test — take a gander at the screenshot behavior here and tell me if you like it.

You could see the old version of the behavior on my homepage but, well, only if you flip heads the first time you load it.  It is basically the stock lightbox effect — brings up an image, click anywhere to dismiss the image.

I’m hoping for a lift in trial downloads, particularly from clicks coming from advertising.  My worry is that the people are going to get stuck in the lightbox and bounce, since it is much harder to dismiss now.  Oh well, that is what testing is for.  Bring on the visitors!

Explore posts in the same categories: web design

9 Comments on “A/B Testing Lightbox Screenshot vs. Screenshot + Download Link”

  1. Joske Vermeulen Says:

    Yeah well I believe you on the numbers, I guess you’ve run enough tests now to not screw that up, but I still cannot come up with a reasonable explanation for *why* people behave the way they do. Care to speculate yourself?

  2. MB Says:

    The 100% increase on the shopping cart is really impressive 🙂

    For the image lightbox / ibox, one thing you might like to test is dropping the semi-transparent background image, and using a thick border around the popup instead. I do that on my sites because the dark background seems to make people want to click the back button to get rid of the image. With a border instead it was clear that you were still on the same page instead of making you think you’d gone to a new one (and encouraging you to click the back button). And it’s more obvious that you can click outside the box to get back to the main page, because the main page is still visible.

    Incidentally I have another suggestion for increasing your conversion rate… This time it’s your download-to-purchase conversion rate. I don’t know, maybe you’ve done this already, but if not, I hope you find it helpful:

    I downloaded Bingo Card Creator some time ago, just to be nosy, and it took me a while to figure out what you needed to do. Yeah, I can be a bit slow!

    The issue was that I wanted to enter something into the boxes on the sample card. They look like text boxes, after all. But clicking them didn’t do anything (because you have to use that box/drop down above and hit the +/- buttons).

    One solution would be to make the sample card contain clickable text boxes. But much easier would be to simply detect mouse-clicks on the sample card, and pop up a helpful message to tell people to click the box *above* the sample card. I reckon that simple change could increase your download-to-purchase conversion rate fairly significantly as you’d get less people erroneously assuming that the software is broken and giving up on it.

  3. Rich Says:

    I looked at the sample screenshot behavior you linked. The download links are after the screenshot, which meant for me that they were pretty much ignored. I ignored the title (caption) text, too.

    To me, a popup (or lightbox, whatever) that looks like a native OS window gives me pause–it looks like one of those spammy popups. This may not be what you want.

  4. Patrick Says:

    We’ll see what the data says in a week. If the users agree with you, it is gone. I suspect they won’t, but you never know.

  5. AhmedF Says:

    Fatnastic post Patrick – gonna see if we can get some of those fixes into iBox.

  6. Patrick Says:

    Wonderful Ahmed. In particular you’ll probably want to note my post from a week or two ago about how I fixed it for Chrome and FF3. Its about three lines to change.

    If I can give you any help with it drop me an email. It is wonderful software.

  7. harry Says:


    Just a heads up. You might want to double check the possibly related post plug-in or your blog. Some spammy looking links appearing e.g., • God Made Us Sisters; Prozac Made Us Friends â… (copy and pasted from the this post that I’m reading).

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