Skip to content Skip to navigation

Writing for the Web #1: Calls to Action

Get people more engaged in your content! With this post, I'll outline two basic guidelines for writing good Calls to Action to lead users through your site.

What is a Call to Action?

A Call to Action is a snippet of text with a link, sometimes styled as a button or with an arrow after it. Use Calls to Action when you want to get your readers to do something — whether it's to click through to another page, download a document, or even purchase something. A few basic academic examples might be: 

  • "Learn more about our programs"
  • "View the full calendar"
  • "Peruse our list of publications"
  • "Get adivising in writing"
  • "Read about Professor Smith's award

In SWS, we create places for links on slideshows or at the bottoms of blocks, so that it will be easy for people to add Calls to Action where they might be needed. But how do you decide what those links should say?

Writing a strong Call to Action

Start with a verb

The most important part of a Call to Action is the leading verb. People are far less likely to click on a link that is a noun, they want to be led through your site. Rather than "About Us," try "Read about our team."

Now that you're starting off on the right foot, remember to elaborate a little.

Give a little detail

One of the common mistakes in writing Calls to Action is making them too short. "Read more" or just "More" is less compelling to readers, and also causes accessibility and Search Engine Optimization problems.

Blind or visually impaired readers aren't as able to scan the page visually and know the context of links and, in the same way, the bots (website scanners) that companies like Google use will not be able to form as complete data from links with non-specific text like "More." For those reasons, it's important to say Read More about what.

Examples of Calls to Action

Weaker Stronger
Our Mission Read more about our mission
Orientation Volunteer Application Apply to be an Orientation Volunteer
Overseas Students meet the president

Learn how Overseas students responded to meeting the president

More See More Events
Read More Read more about the author
Apply Now Download PhD Application
Full list of our programs Find the program that is right for you (great Call to Action from bosp.stanford.edu)
Student Project Gallery Check out our Student Project Gallery (great Call to Action from undergrad.stanford.edu)

The recently launched Administrative Guide has a great example on their homepage slideshow, with the following Call to Action text: "Stay informed on financial policies and procedures"

Example of Call to Action from the Stanford Administrative Guide

Interested in reading more?

Here is another post that I found helpful, if you want to know even more about specific word choices and their ramifications.

  • http://contentverve.com/10-call-to-action-case-studies-examples-from-button-tests/

And remember, these are guidelines, not rules. Sometimes you'll encounter constraints, like the size of the area provided, that will also play a part in the text you choose. A small button probably will be better served by "More Events" than "See More Undergrad Events." So, always use your best judgement.

Categories: 

Comments

Thanks for writing a clear, helpful blog post. I look forward to more entries in the series!