2013_01_featured_paypal Design

What Is The Best Call To Action Phrase For You?

When designing your website or application, one of the many areas you explore “calls to action”. What phrases or statements do you need to encourage the user to take the steps necessary to complete an action? What terms should you include to ensure that your calls to action (CTA) are clear to the user? What language or tone of voice do you use to get your message across?

As user experience designers, we’re always asking ourselves these same questions: Is there such a thing as the perfect call to action? How can one industry learn from others? It appears that the answers differ depending on what type of website, application or industry you’re dealing with. 

Earlier this year I was involved in qualitative user testing of a digital wallet. One of the interesting results that came about was that when participants were instructed to “Register” for a digital wallet, many were reluctant to do so.

However, when asked to “Create an account” or “Sign Up” for the same exact wallet, test participants were quite willing to do so, with the CTA “Sign Up” achieving the highest conversion.

As shown in the user testing, creators of digital wallets have learnt that the “Register” CTA doesn’t work well for them. Just have a look at PayPal, Google Wallet and V.me by Visa and note the terminology they use.

Remember also that many website users can create one of these digital wallet accounts whilst they are shopping, during checkout, and not just on the website of the provider.

So why did this happen?  Why did the participants dislike the term “Register”? Nothing else had changed except the call to action wording.

Further questioning of the participants indicated that the main reason for the participant’s reluctance to Register, is that registration felt like a big emotional or financial commitment and it wasn’t something they were comfortable with doing when paying for goods or services online. Users felt there would be a large amount of time and effort involved in the Registration process.

On the other hand, the phrases “Sign Up” or “Create an Account” were thought to be easier to deal with, and would be a quick process. They wouldn’t mind completing this type of function if it enabled them to complete their payment for goods bought online.

Ecommerce Sites take note

How can others learn from this? One type of website that can learn from this are ecommerce websites. Most retailers offer online payment, using your credit or debit card – and many allow you to pay using one of the digital wallets mentioned above.

Given that the phrase “Register” resulted in such poor conversion rates when tested with digital wallets, you can assume that it will also have poor conversion rates when used on other types of websites with similar functions. For example, when asking your visitors to sign up for an account so that they can checkout, complete payment, or arrange delivery/collection, you should avoid the word “register”.

Some online stores have learnt this. Look at www.zara.com and www.landsend.com amongst others and you can see that they prompt their prospective customers to “Create an Account”.

They are part of a much larger group of retailers who have been changing their CTA to get more customers to sign up with them. To most people, this appears less of a challenging prospect, than “Registering” — especially when they are in a shopping mindset, they have products in their basket and they just want to checkout.

Unfortunately, there are still a number of ecommerce sites that haven’t changed their CTAs. The likes of Wal-Mart, Topshop, John Lewis and Marks and Spencers continue to use the Register button. This is likely to be at the expense of new customer sign up.

The best way for them to test whether this call to action is right for them would be to conduct A/B testing and serve different CTAs.

They should test their “Register” CTA as part of a checkout process as well as those shown in the header throughout their website. The phrase that gets the best conversion rate should then be used going forward. Only the CTA phrase should change in this A/B test, leaving the rest of screen design and layout the same.

How is this user experience?

Giving advice on which are the best calls to action to use is generally considered to be of use to the business itself, in helping the business achieve its goals. However, it also helps the user.

It helps the user understand what they need to do next.

It helps the user to decide whether they wish to click on something or not.

This is why CTAs are an integral part of both the tone of voice and the user experience of your website. CTAs contribute to the overall customer experience that you should be striving to offer.

This article covers the “Register”, “Sign Up” or “Create an Account” call to action. To ensure you look at your overall customer and user experience, the same level of consideration should be given to all other CTAs in your software, or on your website.

For example, when a person is going to buy a product on your website and places the product in their shopping basket before proceeding to checkout. What call to action should you use?

  1. Add to Bag
  2. Add to Cart
  3. Add to Basket
  4. Add
  5. Buy Now

As an ecommerce website owner, you should look not just at what your competitors have done, but what do those outside of the industry do?

  • What have they learnt that could be applied to your website?
  • What exactly are we asking the user to do?
  • How is this communicated easily to them?
  • What do users in your country call the shopping trolley in an offline grocery store?

Answering the likes of these questions will help you decide which of the five call to action phrases is best suited to your website, and is likely to help your website CTAs be more effective and more targeted.

3 comments

  1. Oleg

    Very cool and more people should know about this by now!

    Here is a case study that tested “sign up” vs “register” (guess which won ;-) )

    http://whichtestwon.com/kaya-skin-clinics-ppc-landing-page-test-results

    Cheers!
    Oleg

  2. greg

    @oleg

    by the looks of your sign up, ah I mean register form to find out which one won, it appears neither.

    Get Instant Access must have trumped them both ;)

  3. Aracelis

    An impressive share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a coworker who was doing a little
    research on this. And he in fact ordered me dinner due
    to the fact that I stumbled upon it for him… lol.
    So allow me to reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!!

    But yeah, thanx for spending the time to discuss
    this topic here on your web page.

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