Getting people to take action on your website

Written By Stewart Ritchie
Posted On June 24, 2015

A website without a purpose is useless.  Even the simplest personal pages have a purpose, they want to you read their writing, look at their pictures or think in a particular way.  Every website has different needs and goals – consequently every website will want its visitors to do something slightly different.  The real question is – how do you get people to do it.

If you have a website and nobody is doing anything – you don’t actually have a website – what you have is a problem. There are plenty of websites where this happens. People arrive at a Home page and then leave immediately. They don’t read your content, they don’t join your mailing list, they don’t follow you on twitter and they don’t buy anything from you. You failed to engage with them at a critical moment and they left. Sometimes, this is okay. Maybe those people weren’t your target market or another group of people that you know you don’t want to work with. You just saved yourself some time and an awkward conversation explaining why you won’t be working together. But usually – this is terrible. There may be several things happening – you might be generating the wrong traffic, no one was going to engage with you to begin with. You might have bad messaging so the visitors you are getting aren’t doing anything you want them to (you’re failing to connect) or maybe they waited so long for your site to load that they just gave up.

Know what you want people to do.

The first thing to know when trying to get people to do something on your site is – What do you want them to do? This sounds inane, but most people have an idea what they should be driving people to do. Different websites and different business’s will have very different goals and desired actions from their website visitors. Advertisers will want you to click through their ads and come back for more content. Stores will want you to make purchases. Consultants will want you to email them about potentially working together. All of them probably want to sign up to their mailing list or follow them on social media.

Every page and element on your website should be focused on these goals. Every page should contribute to the main goal.  Wondering what content you can remove? – ask yourself – “how does this help me achieve goal x” if it doesn’t help then remove it. Every page should have a very clear goal of its own as well. Not every page’s goal will be the same, but every page should have a clear, distinct goal.

Planning, understanding and strategy are key to this. They provide the framework for making decisions about what should happen, when.

Okay, So I know what I want people to do.  How do I get them do it?

When you want someone to do something it comes down to two key factors: Trust and Emotion. When you ask someone to take an action, guide them in its direction – they have to know that something bad won’t happen to them – they have to trust in you, trust that you know what you are doing and that you can help them. Secondarily, their emotions come into play. They have to be in an emotional state where they believe that taking whatever action you want them to, will improve their life in some way, shape or form. Regardless of what you want them to do, trust and emotions are at play. Want them to buy something? They have to trust that you won’t over charge their card and that the item will actually arrive, they also need to have a problem in their life that needs  to be solved. Selling consultancy? They have to trust that you can do the job properly – because they want to get promoted and impress their boss.

Trust and Emotion

Every detail and work on your website and in your marketing either adds to, or removes from, the trust your visitor has in you.  Everything has to look and feel professional, that you are on the level and you know what your are doing.  Every word, element, image or piece of media on your site can effect their emotional state.  There are three main considerations for us.  Design, Content & Copywriting.



First impressions count. Your website doesn’t need to be the most beautiful site on all of the internet but it has to look professional and thought out, considered and directed at your audience.

The average user decides whether or not your site is trust-worthy in the first 0.2 seconds of visiting and that first impression sticks around.

After your first impression, you have to fully consider the design of the site. Design is just more that how the site looks. Design is every decision that goes into a website. Design is active problem solving on the behalf of the user by someone on the business side. Design is communication and direction. Design will draw the eye and attention of the user to the parts of the site that you want them to interact with, the parts of the site that you can use to make money and sell you services.

Design is often referred to as the colours, shapes and fonts for a site.  This is true, but it’s only half the story. The thoughtful and careful use of those colours, shapes and fonts has a massive effect on the user, a great designer can guide and influence a user in ways your couldn’t imagine. They can make the difficult, easy, and the complex, simple. Design covers a lot of ground and everything can be designed. Your content (below) will be designed to meet a need and achieve a goal as you will your copywriting (below, again) be designed to make a user feel and act a certain way.



Now you’ve made a great first impression – let’s keep going and show them that we really know what we’re talking about. Our content gives us the opportunity to really show off and provide value to our prospects and visitors. Content shouldn’t be for contents sake though, content should be there to direct people to a goal, through building trust. Your content should solve a problem for your prospect or let them know that they have a problem they hadn’t realised about yet, something that is going to show them real value in their business.  If what you’re giving away for free can provide value, how good must be what you keep to yourself?

Your content might take the form of a case study into a client you’ve worked with in the last year, explaining their problem and how you fixed it, then what value they received as a result of having worked with you. Give the farm away here. Tell them everything it makes sense to. When people reach out to you having seen what you can do, you’re going to be able to command that project and bring incredible value. Maybe you’re writing blog posts and articles on a topic. Alway provide value. Always help people solve a problem. Always educate.

Always have your goals in mind when it comes to your content. Always target your market and what they need. Always have a follow-up.



Words have a special effect on people. You could have two sentences that convey the same meaning but use completely different words. One would resonate and drive thousands of conversions, the other will be ignored.

The words you choose to use are important, they will connect with your prospective clients and win them or lose them, they will build emotional bonds to your brand based on how your words make them feel. Words can build trust and hope or they can completely destroy it in an instant.

Copywriting applies to more that the words you use in your articles and case studies. Your headlines, the labels on your forms, Your buttons, your navigation.  All convey an underlying emotional message that you can either capitalise on or ignore.

Designing a site with goals in mind and how to achieve them is critical. Clear direction and intent make it easier but ideas without thorough execution are useless. Invest in the success of your business and join our email course explaining the design to websites that work and generate new clients for business just like yours.

Stewart Ritchie
Lead developer and founder of Powered By Coffee. Stewart has been building websites for 15 years and focusing on WordPress for 5. He founded Powered By Coffee in 2011 after finishing is masters degree. He lives in Guildford Surrey with his wife Sydney and their two cats.

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