Be it web-based applications or online services, they are taking the Internet by storm. Many websites introducing these services are created and launched to get users to sign up and use the software (hopefully for a long-term). The question is: How do we get users from the unfamiliar zone into the interested zone and subsequently becoming a first time use?
When people start to get interested in your web application product, they :
- start to research and understand more about the product
- learn about the application
- consider an alternative
- compare with others
- explore other options
Audiences who visit a web application website consist of generally 3 groups - those who wants to sign up; those who are here to explore and to confirm what they sign up for is beneficial; and lastly, those who are not convinced and needs to find out more. Hence the position of the sign up buttons, the graphics used, copy writing and the other elements that come into play should work together to gain maximum benefits. As designers, other than creating a vibrant site for the web service or application, it is crucial that we should also help users to get over the barrier of using an unfamiliar medium and translating their interest and concern into positive action through signing up.
This positive action should be motivated by how the layout and design is engineered; thus motivating them enough to care about filling out the sign up form.
How To Motivate Users Through Your Design
Engage your users immediately
There are different ways to engage your users immediately. An example would be having an immediate call-to-action button that says 'Try Now' that will give them a hands on how the application works.
The splash page of Hitchsters.com engages the users immediately by stating the steps of how the service works on the left side of the page. Carefully crafted copy-writing for each step, allows users to understand the purpose of the site quickly. This section attempts to convince the users, and to get them to be interested in the service.
The users' eyes will then follow through the layout of the page to the Sign Up portion. Note that if some fields are required to be filled up, such as the gender section in the example above, explain why the field is there and why it must be filled up. These methods help to secure your users' emotions, and in turn they can trust your application and service at the point of sign up.
Crafted copy writing that describes your software
Carefully crafted copy writing is always the way to go. Visuals alone may not work wonders, as they may be unclear to users, and they may not tell much about the application. However, with the support of good copy writing, it helps to answer the 'whys' and the 'hows'.
Breaking them into sections to explain the usage of the application gives users a deeper understanding about your product in a short span of time. We have to remember that users do not like to work for information, thus displaying of quality content and grouping them appropriately can greatly affect their minds of choosing your product.
Prepare your users when cost is involved
People tend to prefer to use applications that are low in cost or free. However, if your web application or service involves them to pay a certain amount, always notify them. This prepares them right from the beginning that your application is not a free-of-charge service.
Just like the example above, Perq has designed a plan for every organization size. It clearly states the cost of each service tailored for the number of users using it.
Leveraging on reviews and Social Media
Facebook, Twitter and Digg are just a few examples of the different types of social medium millions of people use everyday. Adding reviews, comments and testimonials are great ways you can convince your audience. When they read about the positive experiences of those who have used it before, they start to imagine how their experience would be like. This may perhaps change the mind sets of those who are still in doubt to sign up.
Make forms easy to use
The most important moment is when the user decides to sign up. The form should clearly indicate the number of steps they are going through, this helps to improve the ease of using the form. Do not keep them in suspense because their attention span and patience could be low.
The example above from Orggit, tells the user that there are 2 steps to sign up.
Use appropriate graphics and/or illustrations
Good copy writing accompanied by carefully illustrated graphics explains so much more effectively. When inserting graphics, take care that they should match the content beside it, as shown in the example below. Stay away from generic graphics or stock images, instead these graphics should explain how the application or service works for them.
In-depth feature/quick tour
For products that are more complex, a product video covering an overview of the application would help users to understand the application further. A video prepares the users on how the application will work and look like after sign up and may even convince them immediately that this application is the one for them.
Cisco Webex Meetings is an example of including a Quick Tour video, that consist of a person explaining the product accompanied by motion graphics.
Conclusion: Signing Up is about Motivation
Motivating your audience to sign up your application or service is not easy. Getting them from being interested to jumping over the hurdle to first time use needs understanding of the psychology of how users think and how they react to your design.
When working on such a design, remember that we need to reduce the friction between the interface and the users while they are still interested in the product. Try a couple of different styles and layout, if you are working on such a site. Get various people to test on the site, and see if they are motivated to care about the service.
What else would you add to this list? Share your thoughts!