What do I do next?
Have you ever been looking for something and just can’t find it? Until someone points out it was right in front of you all the time. Sometimes even the most obvious things just fade into the background until we get a nudge and an indication about what to do next.
I spend ages on the phone to my Mum explaining how to use her iPad. I tell her to look in the top right corner for a symbol that looks like a gear and she just can’t see it. I then say to look for the House icon top left and to move her finger to the right and as if by magic there it is. There is probably some sort of psychological name for this but that doesn’t help you when you are struggling with the icons on your remote control or the symbols on your car dashboard or the ‘Click Here’ button on a website.
Steve Krug’s excellent book Don’t make me Think is all about making thing simpler and easier to use. Well worth the investment.
Treat me like an idiot
If you want me to buy your stuff then the label on the button should be: Buy this Stuff. Not exactly rocket science but the overwhelming number of sites get it wrong. They say ‘Add to Cart’ but I’m the UK and we have baskets or trolleys not carts. But that aside, if you only have one thing for sale then adding it to a cart is pointless if it’s going to take me to a payment provider.
Now suppose you want to show me something. You have written a paragraph all about this wondrous object and then you add a button that says:
Click here for what? Will I get balloons? Will you send me flowers? Does it launch into a new website? Is it going to be an advert for the thing? But if you had said:
CLICK HERE TO SEE A VIDEO OF THE THING
Then it becomes much more helpful and I’m more likely to click on the button.
Call Me Maybe
Having a telephone number on your site is great. It’s a good trust mark and suggests you aren’t some dodgy dealer who is going to take my money and run.
But the number you use might make me stop and consider my options. For example: if it’s an 0800 free call number I don’t know who is going to be on the other end. Is it a call centre or a telephone answering service? Am I going to be confronted with a press 1 for sales message?
A local number for a local service will give me the confidence I’m going to end up speaking to the right person – I don’t even need to think about it. However I may not know what the number is for. If I see this:
Bobs Bonnets 01234 56789
Will bob answer the phone? Is it a help line, sales, invoicing or just Mandy in the office. But if you have:
Bobs Bonnets. Call 01234 56789 for sales and information
Things become a lot clearer.
Another hesitation moment you often see is the ambiguous call to action:
For more information Contact Us
What’s going to happen if I click on the link? Will I end up on the contact page, will it try to make a phone call, is it an email address or am I going to be taken somewhere weird and wonderful. Now consider this:
For more information about our bonnets call 0123456789, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in the form below:
No need to think, it’s clear what action I should take – no hesitation or concern about where the link leads.
So that’s just a few examples. Next time you visit a website and have to stop and think ask yourself: how could I do it better?
And while you are clearing out the confusing messages on your website, see if you can remove the clutter.