1.4 Building Trust and Calls to Action
Persuasive web design should not be about tricking people into taking action. It should be about building trust and nudging people in the right direction. That is why, in this final lesson, we'll look at what is involved in building trust with users.
With trust established and a relationship built, the final thing we must do is ask users to act. These calls to action are an essential part of any website. That is why we end this course by looking at what creates a good call to action from both a design and content perspective.
1.4 Building Trust and Calls to Action
Hello, and welcome to the final part of my presentation on Persuasive Web Design. We ended the last video by talking about the need for humanity in our online presence. Because being human and our communication with our users is so important if we want to build trust. By showing our humanity and admitting we're not perfect, we appear more credible, more trustworthy because a big part of trust is about relationship. We build relationships with people, not faces or organizations or marketing departments. But being human can be uncomfortable for many organizations. Not only does it involve admitting mistakes, it means that we have to deal with some issues head-on and be very direct about them. It means addressing tough questions rather than avoiding them. Take for example McDonald's in Canada, they knew that people were saying all kinds of negative things about them and their products behind their backs. Things like their chicken nuggets were made all of kinds of unsavory stuff, and their fries didn't contain potatoes. It would have been so tempting for them to avoid these issues, but instead, they confronted them on their site. There were videos showing how their fries were made and how their nuggets were produced. Not only that, but they came out and said what people's misconceptions were. They didn't hide those tough questions. We've all experienced companies so keen to present an appealing image of themselves that they've ended up annoying us. Companies who hide their hidden delivery charges or their strict return policy ultimately just alienates us and damages our perception of them. Another key component of earning trust is reassuring users. I touched on this earlier when I mentioned the idea of risk. We need to work hard to reassure users that they're gonna have a good experience. Take for example the online shoe retailer, Zappos. By offering a 365 day no quibble returns policy where they pay delivery in both directions. They remove the risk. They reassure users that if you don't like their shoes then you don't need to worry, it will be easy to return them, it'll be easy to get your money back. They take away any sense of risk. They'll be no worse off. The final component to building trust is one of availability. Avoiding engagement is a surefire way of undermining trust. I know that personally I've thought twice about buying from a site that purposely hides its email address or phone number. I've also grumbled about organizations that don’t respond to me on social media. Timely, personal responses to queries goes a long way to building trust between you and your users. That is why it's so essential to highlight means of contacting you and your company prominently on your website. Of course, no presentation on persuasive design would be complete without talking about calls to action. With that in mind, I wanted to share with you a few tips on making sure users click on that call to action button. First, make sure you lay your groundwork, before asking people to respond. Before a user is gonna be willing to complete a call to action, they need to recognize their need. Infomercials do this really well. Before they ask you to respond, they first identify a problem and then present you with a solution to that problem, a product which solves the problem. You also need to communicate the benefits of responding. What would the user get out of completing the call to action? Take for example the VoIP service, Skype. Immediately above their call to action button, which is a big download button, they have the following text. Make calls from your computer free to other Skype users and cheap to phones and mobiles around the world. They clearly explain what the user will get if they download Skype. Sometimes you may have to sweeten the deal a little to encourage users to complete a call to action. That's my second tip. Incentives could include things like discounts, entries into competitions, or free gifts. This is the approach Barack Obama used when he was fundraising on his website. If you made a donation of $30 or more, you got a free t-shirt. Of course the beauty of this offer is not only did he get your donation, he also turned you into a walking advertising billboard. That's the great thing about t-shirts. Third, it's important to be focused on your calls to action. Too many and the user will become overwhelmed. Studies in supermarkets have shown that if you offer too many varieties of a product, then people are less likely to make a purchase, and that's true for websites as well. Too many calls to action, users don't act. It's known as choice paralysis. By limiting the number of choices a user has to make, we reduce the amount of mental effort. Effectively, you guide the user around your site step by step. The number of appropriate actions for your site will vary. However, it shouldn't be that many and each action should be distinct from the others. Take, for example, this wiki website. They've got three calls to action on their site, create a wiki, view the demo, or buy now. Although three's not an unacceptable number, there is no clear distinction between the create a wiki and buy now. What should I do first? Should I pay for the wiki or do I create one and then pay? I'm confused, a better approach would be to push the buy option later in the process once the user has committed to building a wiki. Next a call to action should clearly tell users what you want them to do. They should include active words such as call, buy, register, subscribe, donate. All of these encourage the users to take action. To create a sense of urgency, you could also pair those words with phrases such as offer expires on the 31st of March or for a short time only or order now and receive a free gift. We touched on all of these kinds of things earlier when we talked about scarcity. Another important factor in the calls to action is the position. Ideally it should be places high on the page and in the central column. This website does it well, you can see the call to action is center on the page above the fold. It's not just the position of your call to action that's matters, mind, it's also the space around it. The more space around your call to action, the more attention is drawn to it. Clutter up your call to action with surrounding content and it will be lost in the overall noise of the page. Plan HQ does an excellent job of focusing users on their calls to action by surrounding those calls to action with a lot of empty space. Color is also an effective way of drawing attention to elements on the screen. Especially if the rest of the site has got a fairly limited palate. Things, which is a getting things done application for the Mac, does this expertly on their website. While the rest of the website is predominately muted blues and grays, their calls to action are highlighted in orange. This extreme contrasts leaves you in no doubt as to what they want you to do next. Next, make it big. As web designers, we often get annoyed with clients who want to make things bigger. It's certainly true that size isn't everything, but let's be honest, it is important. Yeah, things like position, color, and white space are equally important. However, it can not be denied that size does play a large part. The bigger your call to action, the more likely it is to be noticed. A call to action, of course, shouldn't be just limited to a single page. Every page on your site should have some form of call to action that leads the user on. If the user has reached a dead end then they're gonna leave without responding to your call. Your call to action doesn't need to be the same on every page. Instead, you can have smaller steps along the way towards your ultimate goal. Finally, consider what happens when the user has actually responded to that call to action. The rest of the process needs to be as carefully thought through as the call to action itself. One particular word of warning, if you require users to provide personal data about themselves, resist the temptation to collect unnecessary information. Marketing people, in particular, like to build up demographic information. And although I can appreciate the value of it, it does bring with it a danger that users will drop out of the process. Wordpress.com is an excellent example about how to minimize the amount of information that you collect from users. They only ask for the most minimal information required when setting up a blog. As you can see, an effective call to action is as much about the content as it is the design. The same is true for creating persuasive websites. A web designer can often leave content to other people. However, if we're going to be judged on the ability of the sites we create to convert, we can't afford to ignore copy. We need to learn about writing effectively for the web but we can't stop there. We also need to learn how to write persuasively. Be careful, don't just equate attention grabbing copy to persuasive copy. Sure, a Buzzfeed headline will grab your attention, but it often fails to follow through. Never over promise with the copy you write, otherwise it'll come back to bite you. Remember our lessons from earlier in the presentation? If you want to be persuasive, you need to be trustworthy, much more trustworthy than attention grabbing. As I said earlier, be human in your writing, be warm, conversational, real and straight forward. Avoid jargon and marketing bs. Talk to the user as an individual and about yourself in the second person. Keep it approachable at all costs and don't be afraid to add some personality and even a bit of humor at times. Unfortunately we don't have time to delve into writing persuasive copy in this presentation, it's far to big a topic for the time remaining to us. But I would leave you with the four step formula that I tend to use that'll at least put you on the right lines. First, tell the user what it is you have for them. What are you offering? Second, tell them how your offering will benefit them. Remember, always focus on their needs, not your agenda. Benefits, not functionality. Next, tell them a bit about yourself and build your trustworthiness and credibility. Finally, tell them what you want them to do next. Go for that call to action. If you follow that basic template, to be honest, you can't go far wrong. My very final piece of advice is a simple one. Take whatever you have written and say it out loud to somebody else. If it doesn't feel like something you would normally say to another human being in a conversation, rewrite it. That's a clear sign that you've lost your humanity somewhere along the line and your ability to be persuasive. So that's it, that's all I've got for you today. I hope you found it useful and that you can now see that creating a persuasive website is more good than some visuals. A persuasive website is the coming together of design content and the offering itself. Until all three work together, your site is never gonna reach its full potential. But until next time, thanks very much for watching. And good luck with your website.