How’s your site’s bounce rate? How many of the people who downloaded your app ever actually use it? What’s the comment rate like on your company blog?
If your answers to these questions are less than stellar, you might have a problem.
A problem with words.
The hidden hurdle
Every one of us can string a sentence together. In many cases online, sentences aren’t even needed: we can all type “Buy now” or “Log in” onto a button or “Click here” into a link.
When most people think of web writing, they think of long copy for informational pages, ebooks and emails.
What they don’t consider is interface text.
Interface text is the words that tell people what to do on your pages: what your site or app does, and how they can access those features. Think: orientating sentences, descriptive text, links, buttons, menus and labels.
Text directly influences the interactivity, functionality and usability of interfaces. I’d go so far as to say it’s as important as design.
Don’t believe me? Well, let’s take my theory for a spin.
See for yourself
If there’s one thing the web is great for, it’s setting a trend. Just as there are trends in design and development, there are trends in interface text.
One example is the humble Get Started button. Ten years ago, Get Started wasn’t a popular CTA—people were still focused on Click Here and Buy Now.
But today, Get Started is the go, particularly as a call to action for what the press loves to call “disruptive” online services—Learnable and 99designs are just two examples.
However, as Tweaky recently discovered, even a straigthtforward, concise Get Started CTA isn’t necessarily as clear as it could be.
Following professional advice, they tweaked Tweaky.
Three out of the four changes Tweaky made to their site were text-based. They didn’t change layout, imagery or even IA. All they did was change wording in three places on the site, and increase the color contrast on the Chat tab.
Wiht regard to their primary call to action, they added a caption so users will know what happens when they click.
The results? Conversions increased by 43%.
As Tweaky found out, a few little words can make a big difference to a site’s conversions.
But that particular solution demands extra reading and attention from users. Is that the best option?
Other examples from around the web—Create your store now, Register, Create your free account, Search, Log in, Buy now—show that there’s a lot of variety in terms of common CTAs.
Which one do you want to use on your site?
Is it time you focused on the hidden hurdle?
In the coming weeks, we’ll be looking more closely at a range of interface and usability-related text issues that digital developers, designers, and entrepreneurs face—whether you realise it or not—every day.
The aim is to help you get a grip on the text-related issues that might be holding back your site, your app and, ultimately, your business.
If you have any specific questions you’d like to ask, tell us in the comments below.
Next week, we’ll see whether the way you talk about your offering is actually confusing site’s users, rather than educating (or even exciting) them. See you then.
Georgina has more than fifteen years' experience writing and editing for web, print and voice. With a background in marketing and a passion for words, the time Georgina spent with companies like Sausage Software and sitepoint.com cemented her lasting interest in the media, persuasion, and communications culture.