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? Dictionary.com 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.