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We all make a dizzying number of choices every day, from deciding which toothpaste to buy to which Facebook posts to click on.
An abundance of choice seems like a great idea because it means having the freedom to do and have what you want, but too much choice leads to decision paralysis–the tendency for people, faced with too many options, to choose none.
When it comes to your website, I know that you have a lot of things you want your site visitors to do. You want them to follow you on Facebook, sign up for your newsletter, learn about your company’s history, view your portfolio, join your group, try your demo, contact you, buy now…
But your site visitors don’t have all day to meander around your website taking every action and exploring every nook and cranny reading every word. Assume you’ve got about a minute (if you’re lucky) to persuade that site visitor to take the action you want them to.
Less choice helps your site visitors take the right action
What is the goal of your web page? I mean, what’s the main goal? What action do you most want your visitor to take?
In the following example, each website owner wants the user to try the demo. Which one do you think is more effective?
This is an oversimplification, and there’s a place for choice. But users want to know, “What do I do next?”
One customer, one page, one goal
This is a great way to begin thinking about your web pages if you want to increase conversions (which is a fancy way of saying “the percentage of site visitors who take the action you want them to”).
Who are you talking to? What problem are they struggling with? How will this web page help them? What action should they take next? You should know the primary audience, purpose, and call to action for each page of your site.
Once you give your page a goal…
Once you set your goal for your web page — maybe that’s to opt-in to your mailing list — take a look at everything else on the page and see if that call to action is the most prominent.
Everything you ask your website visitor to do is a distraction from the main thing. This is why sales pages typically don’t include any other links on the page other than the main call to action–not even site navigation tools.
- Links and navigation buttons are calls to action
- “Follow me on social media” buttons are calls to actions
- “Share this on social media” buttons are calls to actions
And that’s normal, there’s usually more than one “ask” on a page, but remember that your site visitor is probably only going to do ONE action at most. Eliminate anything you can that’s distracting them from taking the one you want.
Use visual design to set a clear hierarchy
When you have more than one call to action on your page, use visual contrast to make the most important thing really stand out. This means, make it bigger, or give it a contrasting color, so it doesn’t blend in with the rest of your site design.
You can also use directional indicators–those are very powerful. By that I mean literally point to it by using arrows, fingers pointing, or eyes looking in the direction of the call to action.
Users can’t and won’t do everything, so keep your focus on the most important things you want them to do.
The psychological reason why you want to ask for less to increase conversions overall
If you’re interested in learning more about the psychology behind all of this, watch this fascinating TED talk about the paradox of choice.
Taughnee Stone is an award-winning designer, brand strategist, and location-independent business owner for over 15 years. Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, she now lives in Croatia with her husband, energetic Samoyed, and three bossy cats.