The Idea Center - Blog
Swipe to the left

3 Mantras for Designing a Great Call to Action

July 29, 2013


A couple months ago we shared 3 Steps to Writing a Great Call to Action. Today, I’d like to discuss how the design and layout of your advertising also plays a big role in getting the responses you want from your customer base. Even if you aren’t the designer of your marketing pieces, these tips will empower anyone to provide constructive feedback when working with a designer or creative advertising team.

Effective graphic design is all about hierarchy and structure. You are taking the viewer down a ‘designed’ path that visually tells a story or communicates an idea. This applies across the board to print, web, mobile, and even video. So when it comes to advertising, you should always be taking the viewer down a clear path that directs them to take action.

Here are 3 simple mantras to learn, use and repeat that will help you develop an eye for a good call-to-action design:

1. All emphasis is no emphasis.

This might sound like some obscure quote from Yoda, but it’s actually pretty straight forward. It basically means that if you want to emphasize a specific call to action, all the other elements of your design need to be deemphasized. If your call to action is visually lost in a smorgasbord of loud colors, bold headlines, and competing imagery, your response rate is going to be low.

Quick Tip: Build a simple list of 3-4 elements (ie headline, image, copy, and call to action), place them in a hierarchy of importance and see if your design visually mirrors that list.

2. Strive to simplify.

The easiest way to confuse your audience, yourself and your call to action is by making a design overly complex with too many elements and conflicting messages. Once you have a first draft of a design for review, see if there’s any added fluff that can be removed or simplified. If you can strip the design and message down to it’s bare elements, your call to action will be much stronger and easier for the customer to find.

Quick Tip: Hack away all the unnecessary design elements that detract from your call to action.

3. Whitespace is your friend.

This mantra is closely related to the first two, but it’s probably the most practical. The easiest way to emphasize and simplify your call to action is to surround it with visual whitespace. It’s a common mistake to fill up every square inch of a design with some sort of visual element. Resist the urge to paint every corner of your ad with pretty pictures, and try a bit of good ol’ fashioned minimalism.

Quick Tip: Give your call to action some breathing room, and place it in a field of whitespace.

There are many other tips, tricks and studied methodologies out there for creating effective advertising designs. Color theory, typography, layout, iconography and imagery all come into play with any visual design. However, I would stress these 3 simple mantras over and over and over again as being the basic foundation for any advertising that calls a customer to take action.