Performics’ Common Sense Guide to Conversion Optimization:

5 Steps to Setting Better Expectations

Posted by Timothy Smith, UX Designer, Conversion Optimization

The key to designing a successful conversion path begins with defining the expectations that you hope to fulfill.  Don’t just be aware of the expectations you are setting pre-click; be decisive and blatant about the promises you make and have a plan in place to follow through.

Typically, the most powerful expectation setters are text (ad/link copy) and imagery (thumbnails, banner ads, icons) but many visual pieces like navigation, background color, font size and other global elements can play a large role in keeping the user confident and comfortable. A drastic change in the next page’s design is just as jarring as misaligned headline copy.

5 ways to insure you are setting user expectations correctly:

  • Message match
    Is your ad copy reflected in your landing page headline or sub-headline?  Write a headline that reinforces the user’s decision to click into your path.
  • Branding alignment
    Does the color scheme of the page match the banner ad upstream?  Insure the user doesn’t have to second-guess if they’re in the right place.
  • Be honest
    Are you getting clicks with tricky link text or deceiving images?  The quality of the click is more important than the click itself.
  • Uncover the details
    Is your page cluttered with extra navigation and unintentional bailout links?  Eliminate any elements that don’t support the next step in your path.
  • Outline what's next
    Is it obvious what the user is committing to do?  Make clear what’s about to happen, “Get a quote in less than 10 minutes” or  “Sign up now to start your free trial” or “3 easy steps to register”

More often than not, expectations will be set in the user’s subconscious, with abandonment and conversion commitment living only milliseconds apart. The conversion experience must be smooth and linear so it comes across natural and obvious as the user clicks through the path.  Don’t forget that these 5 expectation-setting guidelines aren’t just for the landing page; these are general usability tips that should be implemented along the entire conversion path.

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