One of the most under-utilized ways of improving your photography website, call-to-action buttons can encourage visitors to perform the actions you want them to take on your site (whether that’s contacting you, booking a photo shoot, viewing your portfolio, etc.)
- They are the links pointing to actions that you want your visitors to take on a specific page.
- Usually styled as buttons (unlike simple text links), sometimes quite prominently (think of big colorful buttons, sometimes with arrows or icons inside them).
- They are most commonly found at the end of pages, but can also appear multiple times per page if you have sections covering different topics. Longer pages also allow repeating the same buttons if needed.
Why CTAs are important
Simply because you want people to take specific actions on your site, and you want to guide them.
Please note that we’re not forcing people to take a specific action. Using a sleazy pop-up on page load (interrupting users from viewing your content) is technically also a call-to-action (asking them to subscribe or visit a page). But that’s actually hurting the user experience.
What I’m referring to in this article is simply guiding visitors to the next appropriate page using inline buttons, where appropriate. Visitors are still free to browse around your website in any way they prefer.
This is, of course, where the navigation menu plays an important role. Make sure you first have that optimized to perfection before working on calls-to-action: Navigation menu best‑practices for photography websites
You can’t give visitors too many options; that will only confuse them even more. They already have the option of using your site’s navigation menu, no sense in repeating that at the end of a page (in the form of buttons).
Decide on a single action (or two) that you want people to take after viewing a page. Point them to the next logical step to create a nice “flow” through your site.
A “flow” guides people from point A to point B.
You can have multiple such “flows” through your site because visitors usually have different entry points (see your Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages report in Google Analytics). Some people visit your homepage directly, others see a portfolio/gallery first, while others land on a blog post initially. So you have multiple starting places.
The destination is usually the Contact page (asking people to contact you or book a session), but depending on your business goals, you can have other destinations: a prints gallery, a product page, your blog, or even a social media profile.
Here are a few examples of such “flows” (for common photography website structures):
- Homepage > Portfolio > Services/Pricing > Contact
- Pricing > FAQ > Contact
- Blog > About > Pricing > Booking form
- Homepage > Image galleries > Add-to-cart/Buy buttons
- Blog > Newsletter subscribe form
- Homepage > Photo Tours > Subscribe
The length of this “flow” depends on your service offering. If you do custom photo shoots which depend on the specific client request (so you need them to contact you first), most pages will have a CTA pointing to the Contact page. If, however, you do explain all your different packages/prices on your site, you can first point people to those pages first.
And you can have multiple goals as well. Your blog pages take people to a newsletter subscribe page, while your bio and services/pricing pages take people to the Contact page. You can have multiple entry points and multiple destinations, you need to think of all possible scenarios.
Examples of CTAs on photography websites
A very clear example of such a flow is georgevivanco.com
They grouped together a few pages in a “Tour”, each page ending in a CTA pointing to the “next” page in the tour: Homepage (with a button called “Start tour”) > Welcome > Bios > Pricing > FAQs > Contact. Going through the entire tour, visitors get a complete idea of who the photographers are and what they offer. Portfolio and Blog pages are outside of the “Tour”, but they can always be accessed from the navigation menu.
More examples of call-to-action buttons on photography websites:
At the very least, work on your homepage
Regardless of what you currently have on your homepage (whether it’s a slideshow, a grid of images, or something else), what action do you want your visitors to take first? Which of your other pages are most important to be seen?
After viewing your homepage, should visitors…
- head straight to the contact page to leave you a message? (rarely the right answer)
- view a portfolio with your best images?
- read what you can offer on a Services page?
- dive deeper into your photography blog?
There is no magic formula, it all depends on your specific site structure and business goals. Choose one or two actions that you want people to take after viewing your homepage.
And if you have a complex site (with many different sections), the homepage can indeed have multiple CTAs, basically acting as a portal, as a recap of your site’s most important areas.
Guidelines for making CTAs more effective
Adding effective call-to-action buttons to your site can be incredibly powerful. But it’s also something very hard to master.
Once you’ve decided where to add call-to-action buttons on your site, follow these ideas to improve their conversion rate:
- use plenty of empty space around them, so they stand out and don’t feel cluttered
- make them large enough to attract attention, but not too large to overpower the entire page design
- try using colors that contrast the page background color. If you’re page is white or black, you can use an accent color from your design (that maybe matches your logo or other elements). The larger the buttons are, the more pastel colors you can use.
- when you have multiple CTAs together on a page, highlight the most important one (with a different color, or with a different font weight)
- use simple wording that clearly specifies the action, usually starting with a verb
You know you’ve done a good job if you notice improvements in the “Pages / Session” and “Bounce Rate” reports in Google Analytics (and you get bonus points if you set-up goals and funnels in GA).
Further reading – more ideas for how to design your CTA buttons:
- 17 Best Practices for Crazy-Effective Call-To-Action Buttons
- Call to Action Buttons: Examples and Best Practices
- 31 Call-to-Action Examples You Can’t Help But Click
- “Call to Action” Buttons: Guidelines, Best Practices and Examples
- The 25 Best Words to Use in Your Call-To-Action Buttons
- How To Design Call to Action Buttons That Convert
- 11 Characteristics of Persuasive Call-to-Action Buttons
- Call to Action: The 10 Most Effective Techniques
I hope you’re now more aware of the usefulness of call-to-action buttons and how to use them. As you’ve often heard me say, be mindful of the user experience on your photography website: these CTA buttons are not meant to extract more sales from your visitors at any cost. They’re simply encouraging people to see your site’s most important pages instead of browsing aimlessly.
Please leave a comment below with any follow-up questions you have about call-to-action buttons, I reply to every single one.