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Usability Tip: One Main Call-to-Action Item Per Task

by Tammy Guy
2 min read
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Give your users one clear call-to-action for each task.

One of the best ways to learn what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to UI and usability is to look at as many samples as possible and test out pages, comparing and evaluating how certain elements are being treated.

This online poll from Fame10 was linked to through the Fox News mobile app. In the survey, users are asked to submit their answers through radio button selections.

Search field on Menu Pages

The point is to go through the entire set of questions and vote on each. The problem is, there isn’t a clear call to action that handles both the submission of each response and moving forward to the next set of questions. Instead, users must take two actions, first Vote and then click Next in order to advance forward. To make matters more confusing, the Vote button leads users to the View Results screen (same screen users land on when clicking View Results link).

Cut Through Confusion

As a rule of thumb, the main call to action on a page should be heaviest in weight when compared to other buttons and/or links. All other action items should appear secondary in terms of color, placement, shape, and overall weight allocation. In this case, it seems there are two main call-to-actions which are both required in order to move forward.

  • The NEXT button is the one that stands out most. Its large size and bright blue color comes forward in the design, its letters are all capitalized, and it has a forward arrow icon on it.
  • The Vote button appears secondary, as it’s smaller. However, its placement inside the voting gray box indicates it is the main call to action for users who want to vote.
  • The View Results link is well designed as a tertiary level call-to-action and presented as a text link versus a button. The confusing part is that it leads to the same results screen that users see after placing their vote which means that users get to see the general poll results whether asking for it or not.

Search field on Menu Pages

Selection of radio buttons and select Vote. Note: the form is being submitted but the page did not advance to the next set of questions. Search field on Menu Pages

Results screen after selecting the Vote button.

Easy Fix

Reduce the number of main call-to-action buttons and allow users to submit and advance to the next screen with one click. Further, only display poll results when users ask for it, via the results link. This will allow a faster form completion, which will most likely lead to more questions being answered by users.

Search field on Menu Pages

Share your redesign solutions to this problem on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ using the hashtag #1CTA. We’ll add our favorite submissions to this article abelow. (Image of finger in the air courtesy Shutterstock)


Search field on Menu Pages

Reduce repetition+clutter for quick engagement; Rewrite question to be direct+VISUAL; Add surprise to results”—@LeslieDannSmith

post authorTammy Guy

Tammy Guy, Tammy Guy is the founder of a visual design and usability consulting firm focused on strategic brand planning, creative direction and diffusion of user experience problems by applying design theory and usability best practices in a rapidly changing Web environment. Her firm provides consulting services (e-commerce solutions, mobile apps and tablet experience) to clients from various industries such as fashion retail, commodity retail, pharmaceutical, insurance, financial services, social networking and others. Services include product evaluation, strategy and planning, creative development and direction and usability consulting. With more then 16 years of experience, Tammy previously worked as the Creative Director at LivePerson, Inc. and was a Design Group Manager at the Hertz Corporation where she art-directed all aspects of graphical application development for all customer facing websites. In addition, Tammy has been a frequent guest speaker with the Nielsen Norman Group for the past few years, teaching visual design and usability workshops. She also teaches similar design and usability courses with General Assembly in New York City.


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