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How Design Drives Customer Action

What do you want visitors to your website to do? If you're a business, you want visitors to make a purchase. In 1898, Elias St. Elmo Lewis developed the acronym AIDA to describe the steps of engaging customers to the point of making a sale.* While this theory has been around awhile, modern web design elements still reflect its relevance:


A: ATTRACT the Attention of Your Audience

You want to attract the attention of your audience before they even get to your website! Common tactics include:

  • Sharing eye-catching social media posts that appeal to your target audience.

  • Following SEO best practices to ensure your business shows up in relevant searches.

  • Ensuring your Google Business and Bing Places listings are as complete and enticing as possible.

  • Asking your existing customers to show some love and give you a Google or Facebook review. Five star reviews definitely attract the right kind of attention!

Once customers get to your website, an eye-catching hero image, memorable logo, and novel design concept help take people to the next step. For example, OneVision Nutrition uses a large, bright picture of delicious smoothies that's both appealing and relevant. Unusually rounded website menu buttons also make the site stand out.

One Vision Nutrition website says Your Delicious Connection and has orange highlights.


I: Hold Their INTEREST

You need your customers to stay on your site long enough to figure out what you're selling, promoting, or asking them to do. Keep the text at the top of your homepage brief and clearly describe the most important aspects of your goods or services! Website menu design is also important. In the website above, the food and drink menu is very visible. If people are looking for somewhere to eat, they will probably be most interested in what your restaurant offers!


D: Create DESIRE

If someone's hungry for a healthy meal and you're the only show in town, you may not need to create desire. If you're one business among many in your industry, if you're an online business, or if you sell luxury or non-essential goods, it will be more important to make customers desire your product. Here are some examples of businesses doing it right:


Payton's Legacy Boxers have an obvious way to create desire, because who doesn't want an adorable baby animal?

A website with an adorable boxer puppy and two children. Text says your new companion is waiting.

Sometimes creating desire is less obvious. In the site below, both the text and hero image make the connection between financial planning (which many people might find boring or scary) and confidence and freedom (which most of us want more of)!

A woman hiker stands on a crest with her fist raised. Text says Your journey to clarity, confidence, & freedom starts here.

A: Motivate Them to Take ACTION

Once you've created desire by showcasing your beautiful products or describing your transformative services, make it easy for customers to close the deal! For example, the maroon button on the website below prompts new clients to take the first step to begin counseling.

A friendly looking therapist with a button that says request an appointment.

Other ways to motivate action through design might included limited-time sales and coupons. Nonprofits might send fundraising emails related to recent news topics to build on a sense of urgency.


Want to talk more about how design can help you reach your customer base? Contact us now to revitalize your web design or launch a marketing campaign.


*Description of AIDA stages adapted from "Develop Concepts" in Graphic Design and Print Fundamentals by Alex Hass, which is licensed under CC BY 4.0.

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