Writing effective call to action messages in software

I recently had a to review an important call to action dialog. We had just finished an important feature and wanted to drive its usage. The call to action dialog came up automatically and urged the user to try this feature.  The team had taken two stabs at rewriting it but it was still too long & repetitive. Additionally, it was written from the point of view of the team and not the customer.

Since I have limited writing experience, I started searching for “Effective Software dialog messages” or  “Better messages in software” but did not get good results in both cases. This made me think about the problem differently. I then searched for “Writing effective call to action messages” and found a rich volume of work that helped me re-write this message.

Here are the blogs I found useful:

  • http://blog.crazyegg.com/2013/07/24/call-to-action-examples/
  • http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/31435/How-to-Write-Call-to-Action-Copy-That-Gets-Visitors-Clicking.aspx

I felt the following rules applied most to us, while these are obvious, they can be hard to do right:

  • Keep it consise
  • Focus on the user’s benefit
    • Designers saved 30 mins a day by using “feature x” instead of feature x is great, try now
  • Eliminate risk for the user in trying this new feature
    • Try it now, you can always disable it from the preferences menu
  • Use numbers, where possible. For example:
    • “Feature X” saved 15% of time spent in doing something in a recent user study. Click yes to try now
    • 11 tools have been revamped to make you more effecient in this release, click yes to try now

I now feel that I should take a class in writing or rhetoric. There are many available on coursera. Let me know if you’ve had a good experience with any of them.



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