…or they might end up doing nothing

call to actionI went to see an exhibition in London last weekend at the Mall Galleries – the Photographer of the Year, run by Digital Camera Magazine. There were some wonderful images of people, architecture and animals. Beatifully framed and expertly lit – just the sort of thing my friend S would like. Unfortunately, the exhibition finished the day I was there. So I sent her the link to the website.  She could browse at her leisure, and tell me what she thought. Except she couldn’t. “I need to register to access anything,” she wrote in an email. Registration? What registration? All she had to do was click the black and white portrait of the girl and she’d be through to the galleries. But she didn’t. Instead of hovering and seeing the giveaway hand cursor, she looked around, saw boxes marked Username and Password – and promptly gave up. All it would have taken is a simple sign saying Click here next to the girl. So much for point and press.

OOBE or not OOBE

The takeaway is clear: what’s obvious to you is not always obvious to them. I came to the site with years of web experience. S, on the other hand,  is a cyber novice, and likes to see nice neat pointers that tell her what to do. If it’s signposted, she’s OK. If it’s not, she gives up. That’s why as a copywriter, marketer, or just about anyone else who’s putting messages out there, you should indulge in a little out-of-body experience every time you put virtual pen to paper. It’s not just a call to action you need. It’s a call to action that’s obvious to your reader.

Any colour – as long as it’s black

It’s also about not giving people too many choices. Just recently, I was on a site that shouted BUY NOW! A little way across the page, there was DOWNLOAD FREE SAMPLE! And out of the corner of my eye, I saw FIND OUT MORE! Now the thing is, I really wanted to do something. But bombarded by choice, I took the path of least resistance.  I simply closed down my browser, and resolved to go back later (I didn’t).

Admit one (idiot)

As I left the exhibition, I saw a sign that said Photographer of the Year – Free Entry. So why had I paid £2.50? And then I realised. Two exhibitions were sharing the gallery space, with no boundaries between them. I’d come to see the photography show, but paid to see the print show. I’d walked in, seen the sign on the counter, and only three words had registered. Admission. Adult. £2.50. They told me what to do. I did it. But don’t tell S. Find out more: