Our Thinking

A Motivating Web Call to Action

Have you ever been in a situation where someone has used a word that seemed wrong?  Or maybe out-of-place, suboptimal, or or ill-considered?  Each of these means something slightly different, and each tugs a slightly different emotional chord.  The words we choose have a direct impact on the recipient’s state of mind, and their motivation to act.  In no other place is this more true than on the web – and particularly with information collection forms.

Most forms will ask for basic information (name etc), followed by some demographics or qualifying questions.  When the user clicks Submit, their info is sent to the server.  Think about it: “Submit” – a borg-like term, and a close relative of the unkindly word submission is hardly a positive, encouraging, user-friendly choice.  You WILL submit!

There are other terms (“Go“?) that are far more neutral; but is that the best we can do?  Consider the hierarchy of terms that can be used:

  • Submit:  Highly directive:  more appropriate for government forms than for marketers.
  • Subscribe: Better, but given the negative connotations of spam e-mail, this term is fast losing its luster.
  • Register: This term speaks more positively of choice.  The user is doing something for him or herself.
  • Apply:  A term that rings of exclusivity and selection.  At the end of the application process – and only if your application is accepted, you will get something “good”.

This week’s action plan:  Each information collection form on your website is an offer for engagement.  This week, double-check your wording and make sure that it is inviting.