Clicks & Notes

18 May 2005

Calls to action

grokdotcom – So What Exactly is a Call to Action?

The most obvious Calls to Action are ones that say “Add to Shopping Cart” or “Buy Now” or “Subscribe.” A straight-forward “do this.” At the most basic level, they tell the visitor what she can accomplish on that page, and encourage her forward in the conversion process. When Calls to Action like these are paired with Point of Action assurances ("We Value Your Privacy,” “You can always remove the item later"), you motivate action and build confidence.

There are the Calls to Action that are meant to be part of the information-gathering process of the buying decision. You might offer these as Calls to Action: “Next” or “Click here to see alternate views” or “Read what our customers have to say about the Turbo 915.” It helps to pair this sort of Call to Action with an emotionally appealing benefit

Embedded links are less obvious Calls to Action, but when they look the way folks expect a text link to look, and when they intuitively imply where they go, they certainly can function as a Call to Action. These are the Calls to Action that will help you meet the various needs of all the different personality types who come to your site.

⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 11:20 pm

16 March 2005

Sample Character Traits for Personas

Anecdote - Character traits

  • features a poster-size (PDF, 352 kb) laundry list of adjectives (e.g. “cranky", “flexible", “nervous", “thoughtful") that you can use to describe the people in personas that you construct
  • (via Column Two)

See also these previous posts on persona construction:

⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 10:03 pm

02 March 2005

Steps in Creating Quality Personas

Avenue A / Razorfish - Creating Quality Personas: Understanding the Levers that Drive User Behavior (PDF, 778 kb)

The persona is a design tool that enforces discipline in the site development process. Because there are many ways to define a user and his or her complex set of motivations, creating a precise persona with a detailed personality, background and behavior helps to focus the design team on meeting the distinct goals and needs of a particular user type. In addition, defining and designing for a set of specific personas helps to avoid the common practice of trying to design for all users.

  • three basic steps in the persona development process:
    • identify target research segments – review a company’s existing customer segments and supporting market research
    • conduct qualitative research with real people – techniques can include ethnographic observation and interviews, diaries, etc.
    • analyze the data and develop the personas – look for attitudinal patterns, contexts, behaviors
  • scope considerations for persona development:
    • size and diversity of the customer base
    • geographic reach
    • depth of behavioral frameworks – deeper insights require multiple data collection methods and more intensive analysis
    • desire to quantify qualitative results – personas can be “tested” through quanitative methods such as surveying

(Via GUUUI.)

See also this previous post: Creating Personas

⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 11:56 pm

Usability, IA, and Analytics - Prioritize Usability Testing and Web Analytics

  • usability testing and web analytics have a common goal – measuring a site’s ability to drive user conversions – but they approach this differently:

    Web analytics measure visitor intent and persuasive momentum, as well as the site’s ability to move visitors through a conversion scenario.

    Usability examines the site’s interface and process barriers that keep visitors from accomplishing a conversion task.

  • using analytics allows you to track actual actions taken on the site, in real time, with a very large sample group
  • usability testing, with individual respondents, provides insight into what happens in particular instances; however, artificial nature of the testing environment doesn’t necessarily provide an accurate reflection of user engagement
  • on combining the two approaches:

    Generally speaking, use Web analytics to determine where to make site changes and usability tests to determine what to test.

(Via Column Two.)

Update 03 March 2005: One thing that occured to me (and is not – in my mind – explicity stated in the above-noted article) about making use of both web analytics and usability testing when optimizing your site:

  • analytics will tell you where the roadblocks occur on your site; usability testing will tell you why

Hurol Inan - Web Analytics – The Voice of Users in Information Architecture Projects, and Hurol Inan - Information Architecture through Web Analytics

  • both articles discuss incorporating web analytics into the information architecture process
  • areas examined by a web analyst include:
    • Website usage by content category
    • Popular and not-so-popular elements of each content category
    • Affinity between content categories
    • Major tasks and possible frustration points
    • On-site search usage, including where users revert to searching

Hurol Inan - Information Architecture – The Key to HTML Email Optimization

  • designing an HTML email is also a form of information architecture
  • regarding email click-to-open rates:

    A great majority of users only click on a single link – with the average number of clicks by a clicking user ranging anywhere from 1.2 to 1.8

  • applying IA principles to email can improve this rate dramatically – in one case:

    We saw a 50% improvement on the click-to-open rate and a four-fold increase on clicks on feature content.

(Preceding three links via iaSlash.)

See also this previous post: Web Analytics and Continual Site Optimization

⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 11:23 pm

21 February 2005

Ten ways to improve ecommerce site usability

WebCredible - Ten ways to improve the usability of your ecommerce site

  1. Identify users with their e-mail address rather than a username
  2. Break up the ordering process into bite size chunks
  3. Show users where they are in the ordering process, and how many more steps there are to complete
  4. Don’t make the ordering process harder than it needs to be
  5. Address common user queries that arise during the ordering process, either onscreen (preferable, I think) or via a hyperlink
  6. Highlight required form fields
  7. Make the ordering process flexible – for example, a forced postal code lookup can cause problems for users with unusual or new addresses
  8. Put users’ minds at ease – many users are still concerned about the security of shopping online
  9. Have users confirm their order before buying, then provide confirmation after they buy
    • before they click “OK” or “Cancel", users should be able to see:
      • a summary of their order
      • how much it will cost
      • where it will be delivered to
    • once the user clicks “OK” and the order is succesfully placed, show them:
      • the expected delivery date
      • the order number
      • how to track the order online (if this is possible)
  10. Send a confirmation e-mail after an order has been place

(via InformIT)

⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 10:12 pm

14 February 2005

Creating Personas

User Interface Engineering - Perfecting Your Personas

  • “A persona is a user archetype you can use to help guide decisions about product features, navigation, interactions, and even visual design.”
  • personas are based on ethnographic interviews with real people
  • when creating a persona (usually captured as a 1-2 page document), describe the following:
    • behaviour patterns
    • goals
    • skills
    • attitudes
    • environment
  • adding a few fictional details makes the persona more lifelike
  • things to keep in mind when designing your personas:
    • personas represent behavior patterns, not job descriptions
    • don’t create too many of them – just enough to illustrate key goals and behaviour patterns
    • your marketing and sales targets may not be your design targets
    • each persona should have three or four important goals that help focus the design
    • tasks are not goals; tasks are a means to accomplish goals
    • personas must be specific to the design problem

See also:

And, taking more of a marketing POV:

⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 7:04 pm

10 February 2005

Basics of Search Engine Optimisation

456 Berea Street - Basics of search engine optimisation

Good checklist, reiterating much of the usual advice, i.e. use valid semantic markup (including header tags), no frames, text instead of graphics or Flash elements, readable URLs…

Standout bits:

  • on writing descriptive page titles:

    When it comes to the order of the text in the title element, I’ve found that the following works well:

    Document title | Section name | Site or company name

  • resources about generating search engine friendly, human readable URLs:
  • browser detection scripts may inadvertently block search engine spiders and prevent your site from getting indexed
  • most meta tags aren’t of much value, however:

    Some search engines use the contents of the meta description element to describe your site in their search result listings, so if possible, make its contents unique and descriptive for every document.

As the author summarizes:

The ultra-short guide to SEO: add quality content regularly and make sure your site is well-built.

⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 10:51 pm

31 January 2005

Measuring Conversion Rates

A Day in the Life of a Persuasion Architect - How To Measure Conversion Rates

Every end-goal conversion (Macro-conversion), like a purchase, is composed of Micro-conversion points, like the click-through path in a shopping cart.


  • Overall conversion rate: “Total number of actions considered conversion divided by total number of visits.”
  • Scenario conversion rate: “Total number of visitors starting a specific scenario divided by total number who complete it.” Scenarios can be linear or non-linear.
  • Conversion over time: “Use this for situations where conversion is likely to occur over time or multiple visits.”

(via Digital Web)

⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 12:22 am

30 January 2005

Internal Site Links and Search Engine Optimization

SEO Chat - Internal Linking: Thinking Inside The Box

The number of inbound links from external websites only counts for part of a site’s search engine ranking; search engines also examine a site’s internal links. Consider:

  • the site map – a well designed, clearly labelled site map, with related pages/directories grouped into themes, is not only helpful for human readers – search engine spiders will examine it too
  • menus – although most spiders can and will crawl Flash links, HTML links are better (presumably the same applies to JavaScript links?)
  • footer links – keyword-rich anchor links can boost rankings, especially for the ‘Home’ and ‘About Us’ pages – include the company name in the link text
  • link text – wording should alway reflect the theme of the receiving page (again, a basic uability principle for human readers as well)

(via InformIT)

⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 10:51 pm

28 January 2005

Audit Before You Redesign - Audit Before You Redesign

  • audits inventory current strengths and weaknesses, help you to understand where your biggest ROI on a redesign would come from
  • use them to identify problems and suggest high level solutions
  • look at ROI to priorize which solutions to implement

The audit should be both a problem identifier and a mini strategy paper. Whereas a normal development list is based on individual problems, an audit has the advantage of being able to identify symptoms of an overarching problem, then prioritizing the problem as a whole, not just its underlying symptoms.

⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 12:22 pm

27 January 2005

Web Analytics and Continual Site Optimization

ECRM Guide - Web Analytics: Time for a Change in 2005

Doing a big site redesign every two years, with minimal content updates between redesigns, no longer makes sense. If you’re really concerned about the site’s performance, consider tuning it, based on overall site goals, throughout the year.

Our most successful clients set aside roughly 10 to 20 percent of their annual Web budget to optimize the site throughout the year. In many cases, staff is divided into groups. Two people on a 10-person Web team focus exclusively on projects to optimize site performance. Optimization work can include improving calls to action, copy, signup or checkout funnels, campaign landing pages, and so on.

⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 12:35 am

26 January 2005

Behavioral Marketing 101: Defining the Terminology - Behavioral Marketing 101: Defining the Terminology

Behavioral marketing targets consumers based on their behavior on Web sites, rather than purely by the content of pages they visit. Behavioral marketers target consumers by serving ads to predefined segments or categories. These are built with data compiled from clickstream data and IP information.

Contextual marketing is when marketers target users with ads that are served based on a given Web page’s content. Ads bought through Google’s AdSense or Overture’s Content Match are a great example. Both place text ads on contextually relevant Web pages.

⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 11:56 pm

© Jennifer Vetterli, 2005