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Call to action tips

It’s not all about SEO

There is so much focus on Search Engine Optimisation that we lose sight of what it really is about. We fixate on Google and forget that Google is just a means to an end. What we really want are people to do something on our site.Call to action

The Call To Action

The “Call to Action” is the one thing or one direction that you want the user to go. On some pages there may be a sequence that has to happen such as adding items to a shopping cart and then checking out.

Following are the tips that I stress with my web developers

Every Page Must Have a Call to Action

It must be very clear what I would like the user to do on every page.

For many pages this is obvious to the designer. For example

  • a landing page with a form on it is clearly about trying to get their details,
  • a product page is for buying,
  • a “Contact us” page is about providing a clear means for them to contact us

For many pages it isn’t necessarily obvious. For example, on my blog pages what is the call to action?

For these, it then falls back to “what is the call to action for my web site?” Since I have web sites specifically for selling products and others for getting subscribers the call to action is to point them either to the shop or get them to subscribe.

The call to action should always be above the fold

The “fold” is the term for where the bottom of the screen is when viewing the page. The user then has to scroll down to see what is below the fold.

Obviously the location of the fold will change depending upon the size of the screen and if the browser is maximised. So the fold is a rough approximation as to where you think it will be.

The higher the call to action is on the page, the more likely it is to be above the fold.

The reason for it being above the fold is quite simple – the user should never have to search for the call to action. It needs to be there in front of them from the moment they see the page.

The call to action should always be really, really obvious

If it is a button then it needs to be the biggest, brightest button on the form. It needs to be a different colour. It needs to grab my attention immediately.

If it is a form then it needs to be clear that the form is what needs to be filled in.

It needs to be so simple that a 12 year old (or 90 year old) will look at it and know that they need to press the button, fill the form, etc

Anything that is not the call to action should not be really, really obvious

That is, there should not be anything competing with the call to action competing with the call to action.

For example, I have sites where I have a “Buy now” button and a “More details” button. The user has the choice to do either but I really want the visitor to buy. So it is a bigger, bolder button and the “more details” is a plain, small button.  To make it less obvious they are on different lines.

This is where the home page often becomes a problem because it is an entry point onto the site where the user can go in so many different directions. Fundamentally, though, is the question of what you ultimately want to achieve.

My only disclaimer to this one is that I am really sick of sites that have a huge “SIGN UP NOW” button and the login button is hidden somewhere obscure.

 The call to action ideally should be a verb

The call to action ideally should be a verb, not a noun. Tell them what they should be doing.

The reason is simple – people respond to instructions. So if you tell them to “Press here” they are more likely to the just having the word “Here”. Also “buy now” is an instruction while “store” or “shopping cart” are neutral nouns.