Cover Story: A How-to-Do-Everything-Great-in-2012 Guide for Cross-Channel Retailers
It’s hard to believe, but 2012 is here and in full swing. Hopefully you had a busy and productive holiday season and are now ready to jump into 2012 no-holds-barred. Before you get started, however, make sure to check out this guide. We’ve assembled a top-notch group of cross-channel retail experts to offer you their best advice for the year ahead. We’re covering everything from how to make the most of your free shipping program to email deliverability, and everything in between. And don’t forget to check out the quotes from our editorial board members in the guide's sidebar. The sage advice from these cross-channel retail veterans is priceless. Take their advice to heart and you’ll undoubtedly have the best year ever.
How to Make Your Buttons Pay
Buttons are often the main visual call to action on a landing page. The following guidelines should help you make them more effective:
Prioritize your buttons. Ideally you should have a single, clear call-to-action button on your page. If you have secondary buttons, change their color or size to something visually less interesting (e.g., make those buttons duller and smaller). If you have two side-by-side buttons, remember that the one on the right is by convention considered the default one, or the one most likely to be clicked on. You may also consider demoting some of your secondary buttons to text links.
Experiment with format. The exact format of a button matters. Experiment and test a wide range of button shape parameters to see what works best. Possible changes to a button include shape (having it be square), dimensionality (adding drop shadows and curves), color (contrasting and ideally unique on the page), visual embellishments (adding small triangles or chevrons to indicate action) and size (try radically smaller or larger versions).
Be specific and manage expectations. Buttons should accurately describe the intended action. Make sure that your buttons describe exactly what will happen when they’re pressed. For example, many e-commerce sites mistakenly put “Buy It Now!” buttons next to products when the actual action is “Add to Cart.” Similarly, don’t use “Order Now” when you really mean “Proceed to Checkout.” This causes unnecessary stress and anxiety for visitors.
Label from the perspective of your visitors. Button text should always be written from the perspective of your visitors. Address their intentions and desires. In many cases you should try to complete the thought in the mind of the visitor: “I want to … .” Examples of possible completions to this sentence include “download the whitepaper,” “start my free trial,” “get details” or “select this plan.” The formulation above is unlikely to work with commonly seen button text such as “Submit,” “Create Account” or “Reset.” — Tim Ash