ProTip Tuesday #11: Show Them What to Click

Many websites are made with one flawed assumption: if it’s on the screen, people will click it. That is a very dangerous assumption.


It is obvious in statistics that users click the stuff that is biggest, brightest, and animated. That is why banner designers often make obnoxious banner designs… they get more attention.

The real question is: are the big, bright, or animated things the things we want the users to click?

Goals are Good.

Everyone must understand what a site is supposed to achieve (especially your client or boss!). Goals can’t be something fluffy like “encourage positive conversations to drive advocacy” — they must be something real like “increase the % of people who complete the checkout process”.

More importantly, if the big, bright, or moving things are not helping our goals, where are the users going instead? You might want your users to sign up, but that giant banner next to the tiny registration link might be stealing your thunder.

It can be tempting to think that everything is important and therefore everything should be big, bright and moving. That will fail every time, because the user will just be overwhelmed (or have a seizure).(Insight: if everything is moving, the thing that isn’t moving will catch your eye!)

Sophisticated Designs

It can be tempting to make things smaller and “less obvious” so it feels more exclusive. And frankly, it does look less exclusive to have huge buttons… so what do you do?

Here is the trick: add empty space instead of size. One small button on an empty screen would get 100% of the attention. A smaller logo in an ocean of white space immediately draws your eye. In a printed newspaper the headlines get a little extra whitespace to make pages easier to scan. Adding a little nothing can achieve more than adding a lot of something.

Here is a basic checklist that anyone (and maybe everyone) should use when reviewing a site plan/ design:

1) If the site could only do one thing, what would that be?
2) Is it painfully obvious how a user can achieve that result?
3) Is the painfully obvious path-to-result one of the first things you notice?
4) Does the size & colour of the content match it’s importance?

If any of those answers are “no”, then you have work to do.

…and that is why you should show them what to click.

Have a great week!


If you liked this ProTip, try ProTip Tuesday #12: Menus are for Users, Not You.

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