If you were ever formally schooled in Advertising or Marketing, you’re probably familiar with the AIDA acronym first coined by American Advertising guru and advocate E. St. Elmo Lewis, who was inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame late in life (yeah, we didn’t know such a thing existed either). Though Lewis first came up with the fundamental concepts behind AIDA over a hundred years ago, the theory behind AIDA still applies even to mediums that only arose long after his death — such as, in our case, the Internet. So what is AIDA and how should it be affecting your Web Design practices? Read on to find out.
What is AIDA?: An Overview
Not all of us enrolled in Advertising 101 in college, and thus many people less familiar with advertising theory don’t know what AIDA is. AIDA refers to set of steps that an advertiser or marketer needs to promote in order to effectively engage a person with an advertisement and elicit the desired response. Here’s an outline of the acronym and its meanings:
- Attention/Awareness — A successful advertisement needs to draw the attention and attract viewers to actually pay attention to it. Failure to do this means a reader, passerby, listener or whatever simply won’t pay attention to your ad.
- Interest — After you have the attention of someone, you need to pique interest in your product or service. What makes the product unique and advantageous, and why are we interested in continuing to read? Lists of features are boring, but illustrating the great benefits a product or service has can really draw in consumers.
- Desire — Once interest has been effectively generated in customer, you need to drive their desire for the product or service. If someone doesn’t want the good or service, then the advertisement has failed in its job.
- Action — Finally, you want a consumer to go out there and take some sort of action depending on what your ad is advertising. Most commonly this is to purchase a product, but it might be to visit a website, sign up for a mailing list or complete some other action.
So now that we have a fundamental understanding or refresher of the principles of AIDA, how can we utilize AIDA to aid us in the development of our web presence? Below are some good techniques to get you started in effectively bringing your site up to AIDA “standards.”
Getting the Attention of Web Browsers
Like in any ad, it’s important to draw the attention of your viewers quickly right off the bat. This is a mistake in which many web designers fail when building a website. First of all, you should always incorporate elements that will draw in the attention of a user above the fold. This means that whatever strategy you’re planning on using to fulfill the first “A” in AIDA should be visible on a web page without scrolling. A common strategy for this is to use large text, photos or sliders to grab the attention of the visitor to a web page. After all, think about it: every time you’ve visited a website with a slider or large text, I can almost guarantee that it’s been at the top of a page. These are visual elements meant to draw users in and not “hidden” beneath the fold to only the users who scroll to see it.
Developing Interest in Your Product or Service
So now that we have a visitor’s attention, we need to arouse interest within them for our product or service. As we’ve already established features lists are bad, but giving advantages and benefits is good. Personally, I can think of many a website, that will enumerate the benefits of signing up for their mailing list. But often times plain old, small text lists are boring. Have clearly marked sections often accompanied with photos or videos to demonstrate a beneficial aspect of your product or service, or generate interest by bringing up the “Top 3 Reasons” for choosing you over someone or something else.
Make Them Want (Desire) What You’re Offering
If the consumer doesn’t want whatever it is you’re offering them, they’re not going to go out there and complete the next step (action) and complete whatever your advertisement is trying to get them to do. Therefore, it’s important to create a desire for your product/service through web design. When designing a web page, you want to design something sleek, intuitive and aesthetically pleasing. Even if your business deals in the something that has absolutely nothing to do with web design, a high quality web page subconsciously communicates that you deal in quality products and services. Likewise, this means that a poorly designed or, to put it bluntly, “ugly” web page isn’t going to sell any customers. As for the product itself, you’ll want to communicate why a consumer wants it. Incorporating social proof such as reviews from well-known media outlets or showing the number of Twitter or Facebook followers you have (if you have a lot!) can help show that others are purchasing and enjoying your product. Likewise, for products you should incorporate photos or animations that demonstrate the cool functionality your product has — think an iPhone and how they always demonstrate the cool new features in their commercials. Service industries have it a little harder, but you can show photos of the end result, or for someone in our field (Law) you can provide testimonials with monetary compensations in a large font.
Evoke the Need to Take Action
The final and perhaps most important step in the AIDA design process is to get a consumer to take an action. The most common (and probably the most effective way) to do this, is to set up some sort of clickable button on your site that brings them to an online storefront, submits contact info, downloads a piece of software, etc. To get someone to click that button there are multiple things you can do. One of the oldest tricks in the book is a technique known as a “call to action.” A call to action is some sort of phrase that emphasizes immediacy and pushes a consumer to make a choice. For example, “Buy now to receive this limited offer!” is a call to action that emphasizes immediacy and incites a need for action on behalf of the consumer. By contrast, labeling a button with “More information” or “Continue to Storefront” are less commanding and don’t emphasize a well communicated desire of what you, the business, want the consumer to do. Your call to action should be on the button itself as well as in the copy of the page and perhaps in large lettering. Play around with your design to see what works aesthetically and functionally with consumers.
Equally important is the design of your submission button. We’ve all seen those boring, tiny, gray buttons that say “submit” on them. Scratch that idea from your memory. What you want is a large, colorful button that stands out in your web design. Often times using a color that contrasts from the rest of the page and “sticks” out will draw a visitor’s attention to the button. Likewise, you should incorporate a call to action on this button to encourage clicking. When a user first navigates to a page, this button should be clear and visible above the fold. However, it is not uncommon to put a button once at the top of the page, and then again at the bottom of the page after you’ve doled out all the information about your product. Just don’t overdo it or your page looks spammy and and may scare off a consumer. If done correctly, this along with the other elements of AIDA incorporated with a great web design can ensure that your site is advertising effective and creates multiple conversions for your business.
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