How to Create Visually Effective Calls-To-Action
Designing your pages for conversion is a tricky job. It’s a constant fight between what works and what doesn’t. It’s a never ending process of testing, measuring, and making changes.
One of the most difficult tasks I have found in my work is to point your visitors right into your call to action — in order to catch their attention and interest them in your offer.
While your copy is probably the most important part of this process, it’s still very important to support it with suitable design techniques that can put an emphasis on your message.
The good thing is that human behavior is mostly predictable and we can use it for our own advantage.
People love repeatable visual patterns. People will also quickly find any distractions from a well-defined pattern. We can use that knowledge to get their attention.
The question is, how can you lead your visitors right into your call to action in a subtle way without being too annoying and screaming with exclamation marks?
Every call-to-action wants some attention
Ok, before we dive into talking about the design of your website, let’s think about getting attention for a moment. Why do you even need to get someone’s attention and why is it so hard that you have to use some kinds of visual tricks?
The purpose of most websites is to attract the target audience and call them to action. The action can be an email sign up, social interaction or a product purchase.
Of course, the action you want people to take is usually not that attractive for first time visitors. You can’t just invite people to your website by saying “come and sign up for my email newsletter!” That wouldn’t convert well…
So, it is the content that attracts your target audience. It can be a sales page with compelling copy, your blog posts, an infographic, a free ebook, you name it.
Once you have them in, and you have their attention, that’s the time when you want to point them in a certain direction — the next level of your conversion funnel.
Now, getting someone’s attention and calling them to take the action is hard. The bigger the commitment to make, the harder to convert. Different types of actions may also require different approaches.
For example, asking people to sign up for your email newsletter in exchange for valuable free content is much easier than asking them to pay for something.
A call to action with a smaller commitment can be more direct. You can put it right in front of your visitors in the form of a popup or a big top banner.
However, the same approach wouldn’t work well if you used it for your buy button on a sales page. Before asking someone to purchase your product, you want to prepare them, educate them, resolve their concerns and build interest.
That’s why a sales call to action should be positioned more strategically. You need to be careful not to ask for the conversion too early or your visitors may not be ready yet.
If you want to think about how this would look visually, just think about websites that you visit every day.
Where do you typically see an email sign-up form — which is a low-commitment call to action? In the sidebar, in a banner beneath or even sometimes above the header, or maybe even in a pop-up that appears when you start scrolling.
Contrast that with where you see the CTA for a sales page. It’s typically near the end of the page after a lot of copy — the more complicated and expensive the product, the longer and more explanatory the copy (typically).
Okay, now let’s talk about defining visual patterns — because you have to define them first, before you can break them.