Yahoo Illustration Preference

One of the many things I do as a graphic designer for Vantage Media is come up with A/B tests for Yahoo! Education. These tests have involved title languages, button colors, arrows, form label locations, trust badges and more. But this week, I had the opportunity to create a whole new type of test.

This week I got to make an article test on http://education.yahoo.net/articles/degrees_for_busy_people_2.htm. The test was to see if users engage the inline call-to-action links more if we showed photographs, icons or illustrations for each degree listed. Here are the choices:

Degree Control
(Photograph)
Version A
(Icon)
Version B
(Illustration Style 1)
Version C
(Illustration Style 2)
Business business woman business suitcase icon business man illustration business man illustration
Psychology psychologist psychology icon psychology illustration psychologist illustration
Computer Science computer science major computer icon computer science illustration computer science illustration
Paralegal lawyer criminal justice icon paralegal illustration paralegal illustration
Graphic Design female graphic designer graphic design icon graphic designer illustration graphic designer illustration
Health Care health care administrator health care icon health care illustration health care illustration

I came up with the style for illustration style 1 from a Pinterest post I saw showing Johnny Depp in all of his movies. Style 2 was largely inspired by Laura Pérez. When making the images, I definitely liked Challenger C the best, maybe because I put the most time in those article illustrations. I actually thought the icons would do the best though because they are the easiest to scan.

So out of the four versions, which one do you think won in engagement?

Version Visits Engagements Conversion Rate Lift
Control 44515 995 2.24% N/A
Challenger A 22457 499 2.22% -0.6%
Challenger B 22212 464 2.09% -6.5%
Challenger C 22307 507 2.27% 1.7%

If you guessed Challenger C, the more realistic illustrations, you were correct! It seemed that users liked the Laura Pérez illustrations slightly more than the photographs. It's also interesting that the icons weren't that far off and that the more cartoony illustrations did so much worse. We can have several guesses why these numbers played out:

  • Challenger C had more visual queues like the crime evidence or designer's bookshelf
  • The cartoony illustrations didn't make the readers take the careers seriously
  • The brighter colors of A and B turned users off
  • Users just liked Challenger C's illustrations

No matter the results, this split test was a great starting point. If you have any similar tests, please comment on your experience.

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