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Designing a Better Digital CTA

By Elevate

January 25, 2016


Here at Elevate we deal with CTAs daily, as most of you probably do as well. I’m talking about Calls to Action — a crucial factor in obtaining successful conversion rates. Digital CTAs are more than merely buttons: they range from subscription forms to links to checkboxes. Any time that you need the user to complete an action or make a decision, you must consider the impact of your CTA’s design.

It is estimated that we make, on average, 35,000 decisions on a daily basis. That’s a lot. This can lead to decision fatigue, the phenomenon where the more decisions one makes, the more one’s ability to make good decisions decreases. Within the world of UX design, minimizing the pain of decision points is a key component in creating a good user experience. This is where the importance of a well-designed CTA becomes apparent since they create an instance where the user must make yet another decision. So, as good designers, it is our duty to make them as intuitive, clear and eye-catching as possible in order to create less strain on our already decision-weary users. Below are five great methods to accomplish this goal.

1. Make your Calls to Action obvious.

If you want users to click on something, make sure they can see that the object is indeed clickable. Seems like common sense, but you would be surprised by how many bad buttons are floating around the web. Choose a color that is cohesive with your design and that pops.” Perhaps this could be an accent color in an image or a contrasting color to your background. Don’t get too clever or fancy. Make a button look like a button. Make a link look like a link. If it doesn’t, no one will click.

CTA 1 orig

2. Place your CTAs in an intuitive spot.

While you want your CTAs to be attention-grabbing, you never want them to catch your users by surprise and confuse them. In a normal conversation, no one would ever lead with a pitch, because it would be awkward and obtrusive. Imagine you’re speaking with a friend about a new app they should try. At what point in the conversation would you suggest they download the app? Now, extrapolate this idea into placing a button in a website layout. Would you put the download button at the top of the page, or after a brief description? Choose the placement that is most natural.

CTA 2 orig

3. Write clear copy.

CTAs are all about persuading your user to complete a task. Disregarding the importance of the copy you write would be a major disadvantage. Be direct and concise in your statement; the action you want the user to complete must be clearly conveyed. Remain personable, but don’t be wordy.

CTA 3 orig

4. Make the user feel secure.

The internet is full of shady things; let your users know that your CTA is not one of them. Users are hyper aware of the threat of viruses and junk mail and do their best to avoid them. For example, assure your user when they are considering signing up for your newsletter that they can just as easily opt out in the future. Let your user know that they don’t need to enter their credit card for a free trial. No one wants to input personal information into forms unless they know that the information will be secure and not shared with unknown third parties. Small reassurances go a long way in gaining your user’s trust of and respect for your site or product.

CTA 4 orig

5. Let users know they’ll be missing out.

In psychology, the term loss aversion refers to the human tendency to value the avoidance of loss above gains. While still remaining personable with your copy, be sure to explain what a user would lose if they passed up your CTA. For example, explain that if a user doesn’t sign up for your newsletter, he or she will miss out on exclusive email offers. Remember, your users are busy people who do not want to put in more effort than what is needed. Yet, by letting them become more aware of what they would lose by not acting, they will be more willing to engage with your CTA.

CTA 5 orig

Furthermore, a good way to implement successful CTAs is by using A/B testing to see how real users interact with subtle iterations of these techniques. Choose a certain aspect of a CTA (size, color, wording) and slightly alter it for a percentage of your site’s visitors. Compare conversion rates and use the more successful variation. But more on A/B testing in future posts!

Overall, a well-designed CTA is a delicate balance between eye-catching and unobtrusive, persuasive and subtle. It can be amazing how much difference a small change such as a button color or link placement can make. Next time you are designing a CTA, keep these five simple tenets in mind to inspire action among your users.

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