There is a hot debate at NBV towers this week: The correct application of calls to action across a website. The office is split over something as seemingly minor as whether we put a ‘Get in Touch’ panel on the home page, services page, the case studies page… or all three. The reality is this is one of the most important decisions an architect needs to make when putting a site together, and the answer is not as obvious as it seems.
In order to address this, we will release a two-part blog entry exploring the subject of calls to action. Hopefully you can help us on our journey to making the right choice.
In marketing terms, a call to action can be defined as a prompt that encourages a certain type of behaviour from a user. In terms of web design, this can be a button or panel with an operative phrase on it, such as ‘Get in Touch’.
Calls to Action behave like road signs, guiding users through an unfamiliar website - they can point to additional content or encourage a sales conversion (for reference we’ll call this latter one a ‘conversion call to action’). Without them, website navigation requires a lot more thought, and we really hate to make users think*.
*see Steve Krug’s Don’t Make me Think
In sales, a potential customer needs to be ‘warmed up’ to the point where they are happy to convert. If a salesman attempts to close a deal too early, the customer can end up getting cold feet and abandoning the process.
Imagine a sales process as fishing: A fish needs to trust the bait in front of it before it takes a bite. It is only at the point of biting that a fisherman can strike and catch the fish - striking too early erodes the fish’s trust to the point that it is not prepared to take the bait.
The same rules apply to web as they do to any regular sales process. The information provided on a website needs to gradually gain the trust of a user as they journey through the site. Calls to action can be used to start this journey*, guide them through the site and ultimately convert them. However, they can also end a good journey by pointing in the wrong direction.
*see Jared Spool’s The Scent of Information