Clear Call To Action: Keep your eye on the prize

I was talking to a client today and reviewing a few design concepts. We discussed what he liked best, and what needed tweaking. I steered him away from a few changes which would muddy the call to action. Over and above everything we do in web design and web development, the call to action is by far the most important. Others would point to search engine optimization. This of course is  important, as you need to get them to your website. BUT, if f they get to your site and you have no clear call to action, your site will flounder.

So what is a call to action? defines it as: “the implicit or explicit suggestion contained in a marketer’s content in an advertising banner or Web site copy”.  In the early day of the internet, this was usually, a “Click Here” link. We have gotten away from that a bit, though click here is still pretty common and clients often still like to use the phrase. Now good call to actions can be in the form of a  graphical element, (button, banner, graphic), a link, or other ways to get visitors to take the desired next step. This could  be to make a purchase (if this is a product) , call you (as with service providers), or click on a link to be contacted or to get you to the page they need you to see.

Now, in this particular case, the call to action is designed to get visitors to fill out a form for a free review.   The program which is guaranteed to save restaurants money is a good one, but if no one signs up, no one reaps the benefit and the company fails. My design team came up with a great strategy, where your eye is drawn to the call to action.   The main graphical element, which will be a jquey fade between 4 slides will end with a powerful message urging them to fill out the form  and pointing them below to the form.  Below the image fade is a quick explanation of the program, which is actually a “challenge”. To the right of that is the actual form. Now even the header image background in the explanation is actually an arrow pointing you to the form. So all the elements work in concert to get the visitor to the call to action. (When this launches, I will add a link here to illustrate my point).

Bottom Line: If you review a design with your developer/designer and see no clear call to action, ask them to turn back and start again. Communicate to them what the call to action needs to be. They should ask you in the requirements phase, but don’t always.

Welcome to the Common Sense Blog

Welcome to the common sense blog. The basis of our business at RooSites is to create world class websites, that look good, perform well in searches and have quality content.  This should be the basis of everyone’s website. Simplistic? Yes, but to me that is what it is all about. If you fulfill the 3  things I mentioned, and you pay a reasonable price, your site should be a success. To me this is common sense, (thus the wonderfully imaginative blog title) but the amount of spam I receive from SEO firms all over the world lead me to believe I am in the minority here….That somehow SEO tricks and the dreaded  “We can reverse engineer google” firms know something more than you do.

Let me tell you they can’t reverse engineer Google. Period. No, not a guy in Bangalore, nor a guy in the Ukraine or even a kind of smart guy in Boston can.   Unless perhaps you build an army of PHDs you can’t figure out the search algorithm. Ok, I suppose Albert Einstein could have developed the theory of Search rather than relativity had he lived in this point in time.  But he didn’t and Dr. Salk ain’t walking through the door to switch to search research either. Please don’t get me wrong, there are legit SEO firms out there, just beware of the firms claiming to make you number one in a short period of time. If they could do it for you, they would do it for themselves. My stock answer when they call is to do a quick google search for phrases “SEO” and “Search Engine Optimization” and let them know they aren’t in the top 50 (usually 100). I ask them what they charge and offer to double their fee.  Of course only if they can make themselves number 1 in the period of time they claim to be able to do for me. I have yet to ever have to pay.

So what do you do? Stick to the basics, hire a good firm (like RooSites) and work hard on your site. The main mistake is putting a site up and forgetting about it.  I liken it to a store still selling pet rocks, member’s only jackets and ashtrays. Probably go out of business pretty quick. I recommend making (at least) monthly website updates, (more, much more if possible, weekly is ideal) whether it is news, new products, articles, blogging. Whatever. Give your viewers a reason to keep coming back to your website. In this business, stale = fail, so keep your content fresh!

Anyway, that is it for now. I will be writing when the urge hits me about all things web development….and of course taking a common sense approach.