In our daily lives we are affected by the wording and labels we are exposed to. Just have a Google for labeling mistakes and the number of stories returned is quite frightening. These can range from simply not presenting key information but can go so far as creating an almost global frame of mind that dictates future actions or perceptions about an entire topic such as war.

Likewise, interface design is hugely affected by the labels we give to elements of the UI or the documentation we provide. We have technical authors at Red Gate who review our designs and every string in the interface is carefully selected and reviewed before a release. When it comes to websites the same rule applies but how carefully do we really review or test the wording we use on web pages? Some labels are standardized across the web and and in almost all cases shouldn’t be deviated from.

Recently an A/B test was run on the wording of the download button on the Firefox website. This simple example demonstrated an effect which we have seen before where a button performing the exact same action (linking to a particular section of the website), had its wording changed to a stronger call of action which appeared to change the mindset of the user and led to higher conversions with exactly the same conditions.

How carefully do we really think about each label on a webpage given what a large effect it can have? When a user lands on a product page they often want to be immediately pointed in a particular direction. Not only the design of the site comes into play here but the clear wording and signals we use. How strong are your calls to action and how many visitors are you losing as a result of your choice of labels? If you aren’t sure then it’s time to review your calls to action and test alternatives to find out. You may be surprised… or even shocked.

Stephen

  • Admin

    A great example of how strong calls to action can affect click or response rates:
    http://www.cowleyon.com/2008/05/19/34-incredibly-strong-calls-to-action-make-your-visitors-click-phone-or-buy/

  • Brian

    Excellent blog post. It’s long overdue that the same attention is given to choosing the words we use on our web pages as is paid to the text in our application interfaces. Even though the objectives may be slightly different (in our programs, we’re aiming for clarity and simplicity, whereas on our web pages we want to entice, pique interest and encourage further browsing or downloads) the requirement for attention to detail on every single word is the same. It’s often the simplest, most innocuous looking text that has been given the most time and care.

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