Action-Driven Design: Capitalize Trust Design

By Andres Zapata, SVP of Strategy and Professor at Maryland Institute College of Art 

When we wrote about “Trust Design,” we argued that skillful designers can tune compositions to conjure-up specific feelings. And of all feelings, trust is the most important to establish… and quickly. But what do you do with a user once you’ve established trust through design? How do you capitalize on that trust and drive them to action?

There are literally formulas and frameworks that drive conversion and results. Some are complex and some are simple.

Not to suggest that design is the answer to every problem, but in this case, it is—or at least, it is a partial answer. Content and transaction completes the picture.

After more than fifteen years doing this stuff, we’ve crafted this three-track model to drive action, and because it’s a simple way to squeeze higher yields from the traffic generated in online marketing campaigns. This technique has demonstrated conversion improvements from 50% to 70% and higher on the same traffic.

The principles of Action-Driven Design exploit the power of a strong (and relevant) offer expressed through the most effective design, content and transaction techniques.

Content: Face it. People don’t read much online. If you’re lucky, they’ll read a headline and a photo caption. You have an extremely small window to connect, intrigue and drive action. Focused, simple, authentic, pithy and slightly surprising copy that directly connects with the user has the best chance of being read. In many campaigns, we employ more than 20 landing pages to effectively market to various audience segments. All in all, our landing pages are simple and concise. Calls to action are obvious, big and clear. And of course, all of the content on these landing pages is optimized accordingly to support the search engine optimization strategy.

Design: Get ready, here come the acronyms, starting with C.A.T.C.H., a concept that guides landing page design. It symbolizes the most important user interface and graphic design principles for driving action:

Transaction: The P.A.C.E.D. concept to guide the usability or transactional dimension of our landing pages. The acronym is meant to focus our design on the most important usability principles that drive action:

  • Progressive disclosure shows information when it’s most appropriate;
  • Affordance ensures that the page functions act as users expect it should;
  • Conventions of design are universally understood by users;
  • Error Recovery guides users through missteps in the transaction process; and
  • “Date then Marry” calls for a connection before intimacy. Instead of presenting users immediately with a form, the page should use a button to direct them to the form. This technique has been independently proven to boost performance by up to 60%. The rationalization behind this finding suggests that people are more likely to offer their personal information if it’s a self-initiated task, rather than being pushed into providing the info. Not to mention, eschewing the form on the main page also simplifies the design of the page, which is always welcomed by prospects.

This isn’t meant to be a silver bullet. Developing the perfect landing page requires a little bit of trial and error. Start with the best recommendation you can and A/B test continuously until the landing pages are fully optimized.

Like most things in life, the more you put into it, the more you will get out of it!