Gather ’round, ye creative spirits, and I will share the knowledge of those who have gone before. In inbound marketing, the graphic designer’s main challenge is to create certain visual and interactive elements that serve to lead a website visitor, ultimately, to provide key tidbits of information. This information will be valuable to marketing and sales efforts to nurture the website visitor into a customer or client.
The most common elements to which a graphic designer must pay special attention are the CTAs (calls to action), landing pages, and forms. As these elements are so important to the inbound process, a lot of research has gone in to discovering the most powerful ways to design them. Not surprisingly, much of this research has revealed that each case is different, and there is no silver bullet design rule to follow in order to guarantee a successful inbound process. However, there are plenty of common best practices that can guide our efforts toward a more effective inbound marketing campaign.
CTA Design Best Practices:
From a graphic design perspective, the CTA is a web page element that encourages a visitor to click it – the link will bring the visitor to a landing page (which we’ll cover next). Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when designing a CTA:
If it is meant to go along with the page’s body content, a simple button or linked text will do. If the CTA is meant to stand alone, as in a sidebar for example, bring in more elements, like colors, text, or an image.
Place it in an obvious, easy-to-find location. The visitor’s eye will naturally move from left to right and from top to bottom, so you can place the CTA to the right of, or just below, a section of body text.
Use visual cues to let the visitor know that it’s clickable. This may be simply a bright color, or you can make it appear to subtly stand off the page with a gradient, 3D effect, or drop shadow. Use these effects just enough to inform the visitor that this element is interactive.
To draw attention, the color should stand out from the rest of page. There is no exactly right color to use, but it depends on your branding and your visitor’s expectations. Pick a color that contrasts with the CTA’s background color, harmonizes with the branding, and is inviting to the visitor.
To learn specifically what your visitors are most likely to respond to, do an A/B test to choose between two different designs.
Landing Page Design Best Practices:
Once the CTA is clicked, the visitor (hopefully) finds themselves on a landing page. A landing page is designed to inform the visitor about a downloadable asset, and then quickly direct the visitor to the form – the next step of the inbound process. These simple graphic design best practices will get your landing pages up and running in no time:
Top of the Page
Include the logo, but leave out the navigation wherever possible. Placing less links that go off-page in front of the visitor will help direct them to the form – the ultimate goal.
Give it a strong prominent header that tells the visitor what they are in for. This is often where the deal is sealed, so you don’t want to be ambiguous or overly wordy.
Whenever possible, use an image to both communicate a point and direct attention to the form – hopefully the next point in the visitor’s journey. Find directional lines in the image that will lead the visitor’s eyes.
Form Design Best Practices:
Intro: Though not the end of the inbound marketing process, the form on the landing page (specifically the “Submit” button) is the final place to which the visitor should be directed. A graphic designer can use these best practices to encourage interaction with this essential feature:
Style the form to match your branding, be a prominent feature of the landing page, and be appealing to your target visitor. Pay attention to the border, corners, and shadow effects they can help draw attention as long as it isn’t over-done.
Give the text some breathing room. Add some white space between the text and the form fields to allow the visitor to easily digest the information requests. The more work the visitor has to do at this stage, the less likely they are to submit the form.
Keep it clean, simple, and inviting. Avoid unnecessary details that will add another visual step between your visitor and the form’s fields.
Make the “Submit” button at the bottom an attention-grabbing color, but don’t allow the visual effects to overwhelm the CTA’s text.
You may have noticed the common threads running through these different graphic features. Each one relies heavily on the psychology of the visitor: What do they expect? What will they trust? Designing these elements also relies on clear communication to the visitor: What’s the point? What should they read or do next? These graphic design best practices for inbound marketing will help you more effectively answer these questions with the visual experience you provide.