Make It Easy To Buy

Have you ever left a website because you couldn't figure out how to buy something or it took 5 clicks just to find what you wanted?

Sometimes a website is perfect at identifying the call-to-action, but you have no idea what it will do. Will it take you to an information page or will it lead you down the Internet version of the Wonderland rabbit hole, wasting your time and spamming you with irrelevant details.

It's easy to criticize, but identifying what is wrong is the best way to learn what is right.

When you come across one of these websites that torture you with frustration, take a moment to compare it with your own small business website design. Find the reason it sucks and do the opposite.

Avoiding confusion

As an example, take a look at

Difficult to understand call-to-action

This isn't the worst small business website in the world, but it successfully confused the heck out of me. If you were wanting to sell your car, which action would be most important to you?

Possibly the "Value my car" option?

Apparently the post-it board is more important (well, it seems that way according to their contrasting colors used for the design). Naturally, if the board seems more important, you will click on it first... at least you'd presume you could click on something. Unfortunately this site doesn't show you what to click. You are given less clues than a scavenger hunt because the only indication that you can click something is the changing mouse cursor.

Does this mean clicking anywhere on the board will take you to the same link? Or does each post-it note take you to a different page?

It's Ok, You Can Click

If your visitor has to ask questions, your site is in trouble. First suggestion for designing your call-to-action buttons... tell people they can click. You don't need to say "Click here" but something like "Find out more", "Learn more" or even "Next" is enough. At the very least, those post-it notes should visually change to let people know each one leads them somewhere different.

So what do you find when you click one of the post-it notes? An information page, without any guidance for selling your car via the website. Why are they making us work so hard?

So how do you actually sell your car with this site? By using the less noticeable "Value my car" call to action button. You're forgiven if you thought the process of valuing a car would be easy, it's not. You have to complete five painful steps just to provide your information.

Is there a pot of gold at the end of this gruelling task? Nope. It ends with a request for your email address so they can contact you. So this has become a massive waste of time just so they can automate the information gathering process. Before I visited that site I had a full head of thick and luscious hair... I am lucky to have 3 strands left, "Doh".

Don't Make Your Visitors Guess

The second call-to-action design suggestion, give a quick summary of what is needed. If someone has to provide you with information so you can email them, let them know. This site could provide a short few words like, "Tell us about your car and we will email you our valuation". Be blatantly obvious about what you do and people will be prepared to take action.

I try my best not to be a negative Nancy (sorry to all the Nancy's of the world, it's nothing personal...), so I want to show a good example. It's

An excellent call-to-action example

They currently have a 2010 Pre-Labor Day Sale. The most obvious call-to-action is their changing promotional banner which is extremely informative. The green banner immediately states how much money you save by spending $100, $50 or $15 on the site. Underneath is an announcement about free shipping on orders totaling more than $99. Finally, it clearly provides a promotional code that must be used at the time of purchase.

Everything you need to know is right there. There actually isn't a need to click the banner but what happens if you do?

Clicking the banner takes you to a page with more information and four buttons leading to different product categories. Here is the best part about this call-to-action... if you click one of the product categories, the promotional code will automatically apply to your order. Just to make sure you get the deal.

Being Easy Isn't Such A Bad Thing

The third call-to-action suggestion, make your call-to-action easy to follow. This website leads you through the process and explains it every step of the way. Before you click that call-to-action button, you know what is on offer and you know how to obtain that offer. They even go to the trouble of filling out the promotional code for you.

The reality is that people need guidance when purchasing products on your website. There isn't the same opportunity to speak in person and ask questions like you do with your offline sales.

To sum up the ways you can make your call-to-action buttons easy to understand:

  • Tell people to click your button or fill out your form
  • Let visitors know what the call-to-action involves
  • Make the call-to-action process easy to complete

The third installment in our call-to-action series will discuss making your offers hard to resist.

If you have any questions or would like some advice for your call-to-action, leave a message in the comments section below or contact us via email.


i think your spot on with your thoughts here, i actually also have a site specialises in cash offers for your car. From day one I always felt the valuation part was the most important goal of the website, therefore I have a large form on the right side of my landing pages and it's all above the fold.

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