“A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them,” said Steve Jobs, who proved his point with each new Apple product release. Take the iPhone, which consistently won over customers who had previously been happy with last year’s model. What was the difference between models? Not much except for breathless anticipation. To get people to want something, you can’t wait for it to dawn on them. You have to show them. Get them excited.
The act of showing people what they want is critical in every part of business, including the user experience (UX) of your web site. Guiding customers to a specific action is a critical part of selling your services, and without this call to action, you leave your customers to guess about what they should be doing – and eventually lose them. You can’t expect visitors to know your site like you do. You have to provide a specific path to the action you want them to take.
How do you create a call to action? Easy. Think about the most important thing you want people to do. If you’re selling beach towels, you want someone to buy a beach towel. Rather than having three paragraphs about the history of your company on the homepage, impact your visitors with a bold, specific phrase: Buy Now. Shop Now. View Our Selection of Beach Towels. In other words, get the customer to a point of sale as fast as you can.
Attention spans are short today, and you can’t be guaranteed potential buyers will want to know every last detail about your product or service (although you should have owner’s manual-type information available for those visitors who want it). Follow Apple’s lead by touting what’s great about your product or service in brief but informative snippets, then make sure the call to action remains front and center in the form of a Buy Now or Contact Us button. Do something creative to encourage interaction. (Have you seen Threadless‘ shopping cart? It has a sad face until you add a product to it.)
When you provide a clear call to action, you turn visitors into customers. Don’t be afraid to be obvious. Tell people what they need. After all, most of the time they don’t know what they want until you show it to them.