Creating Effective Call to Action Buttons

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It's time to get serious - about your buttons... your call to action buttons.

"Calls to action" are the requests for those visiting your website to perform some specific action. That request could be to complete a sale, fill out a form, or share information with friends or colleagues - whatever it is that ultimately meets the objective of the page the user is currently visiting. So what is a good call to action and how can you as a Web professional increase the likelihood the visitor acts upon your requset? 

Here are a few guidelines for creating an effective (serious) call to action button: 

- Take the Wording Seriously: It is not uncommon for Web designers to guide the button creation, and hence the wording of those buttons, during development. As you might imagine that is a pretty big mistake. It is important to express a benefit or positive result, use active verbs (learn, add, submit, modify, etc.), and to use wording that is consistent throughout the site and which leads the user to pages which reflect that specific call to action. 

- Seriously, Placement Matters: You would not hide the register at a brick and mortar store, so you should not hide the call to action buttons on your website. Placement matters (seriously) so make calls to action the logical conclusion to the content on the page and in what is referred to as the "eye path".

- Seriously Focus on Button Quality: If you look on a heatmap it is the one area of a page which generates the most attention/heat - it's the call to action button. For this reason it must be instantly recognizable, consistent across the entire site, and visually charged (easy to locate with 3d effects or drop shadows). As a support mechanism consider adding mouseover effects to secure a users attention. 

Just a few thoughts on creating strong calls to action with buttons. Any advice for other WM readers?

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Nick Stamoulis 02-08-2011 8:41 AM

Depending on what you are trying to get visitors to do, I see no reason to not have the call to action on every page. If you are trying to get them to sign-up for something, like a newsletter or RSS feed, you want the call to action prompting them regardless of where they click through on you site. That way, when they are finally convinced to take action, they don't have to backtrack to find the registration form.

Panos Ladas 02-15-2011 8:05 AM

I totally agree with you Nick on this one! The call to action is something that someone must have in every page of a website. One thing that has to be noticed here is that a website might have several kind of call to action buttons at the same page such as a contact us form and a newsletter subscription field. In a few places those two might have different importance and could be placed in a different way...

GuyP 02-27-2011 7:12 AM

i remember stumbling upon a site that allowed you to design a button, then export it. You could customize color, behavior and style. Does anyone know of a utility like that anywhere?  Thanks

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