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Chat Bubble Blindness

How removing our live chat bubble led to more conversations.

Last month we removed our live chat bubble and replaced it with a link to live chat in our navigation.

It led to a 62% increase in new chat conversations:

Chat bubble vs navigation link.

This may not be universally applicable but it's what happened to us.

The Startup "Thing To Do"

We first added Intercom when we launched Atlist— it just seemed like the startup thing to do.

But we immediately found the Intercom chat bubble annoying— it would clutter up our interface and even obstruct elements:

The chat bubble would obstruct our interface.

We found ourself designing around the chat bubble.

In a moment of desperation we created a "hide chat bubble" option in our settings— that way we could at least hide it for ourselves and stop being annoyed by it.

We created an option to hide the chat bubble.

But the "hide chat bubble" option never felt satisfying. We knew hadn't solved the problem— we had just hid it from ourselves.

The Test

We decided to do a test. We removed the Intercom chat bubble...

Old

... and replaced it with a link to live chat in our navigation:

New

Users had the option to begin a live chat once they clicked the navigation link:

Live chat

The navigation link led to a 62% increase in live chat conversations.

Here are the numbers from the test:

Results

Chat Bubble Blindness

This felt like a win— I like live chat but I hate chat bubbles.

And if I hate them, maybe users hate them too? Maybe users have developed a chat bubble blindness— just like banner ad blindness.

In any case, don't expect to see a chat bubble on Atlist ever again. 😊

Karl and I are building Atlist, a tool that makes it easy to build custom Google Maps. You can follow our story on our Youtube channel, In Good Company.
Written By Steve Benjamins
Last Updated July 28, 2020