Perfecting the donation button

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Even the smallest details matter when it comes to fundraising online.


In the age of online donations, web developers in the political space are getting hung up on the color of their donation buttons.

Don’t laugh—it might seem like an odd thing to have anxiety over, but choosing to donate is the most important action a client wants a user to take on their website. Accordingly, clients want that button to be eye-catching—sometimes to the point of obnoxiousness.

Yes, it's the most important thing you want a user to do—but screaming louder at someone to do something for you doesn't make him more apt to. In fact, annoyed visitors will be less apt.

How do you find the middle ground between enticing and annoying?

If you're a Republican, that middle ground is a fat red button—fat with a big, dark shadow behind it. It's probably in the top right corner. It might be blinking if you have a bad vendor. 

If you're Rally (formerly Piryx), one of the largest processors of online donations for charities and organizations on the planet, it's green. Rally founder Tom Serres swears by green as the result of testing across thousands of client donation form implementations on their platform.

If you're online megastore Amazon.com, it's orange. The PayPal checkout button that many online retailers use is also orange. If you’re paying with Google Wallet, it’s blue.

On BarackObama.com, the standard in all things politically digital, the donate button is gray on the homepage, but red on back pages. Hey, he's the president, and he's having it both ways. If I were to guess, I'd say it's gray on the homepage to keep with the overall aesthetic—or without looking like a money grab—but turns red on back pages to reach users that are engaged enough to click through for more content.

Romney has, you guessed it, red through and through.

The moral of the story? People who live and die by the checkout button should test which colors work best for their constituencies. Test and optimize. Multivariate testing has become easier than ever. Find the color that resonates with your sites users and run with it. HubSpot did a study on Performable’s website, and it showed that site’s button color change led to a 21 percent click-frequency increase. But don’t just take other people’s word for it—your results may vary.

But we know one thing for sure—buttons should never blink. 

This infographic shows just how this works – from color psychology to contrast with your site. This guide from Google Labs will show you how you can test this out on your own site. Matthew Dybwad is a founder and partner of CRAFT | Media / Digital.


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