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How to Design CTA Buttons that Convert

Calls to action are a crucial part of your business and a vital part of a great brand website! And yet, over 70% of small business websites lack a call to action (aka a CTA). When you’re hard at work on a design, it’s easy to be so focused on the visual design elements and website content that you overlook adding an effective call to action. Let’s talk about how you can show this part of a website’s design the attention it deserves by designing CTA buttons that convert. We’ll start with a clear definition of a CTA; then, I’ll tell you what works – and doesn’t! – when it comes to how to design effective call-to-action buttons for your website. 


What is a CTA?

Even if you aren’t familiar with the phrase “call to action,” I can guarantee you’ve interacted with a CTA before! It’s a word or phrase that gives potential customers a clear path on what they should do next and tells them how they can work with you. A CTA has two essential purposes on your page: to guide users to the next part of a website you’d like them to see and to encourage them to take a specific action on those pages.

It’s common to assume that visitors want to see as much information as possible when they arrive on your site. But the reality is the opposite! Whenever users encounter too many choices, they quickly become overwhelmed and take no action at all. Giving users a single, definite next action to take increases the likelihood that they’ll take the next steps to learn about your brand’s services, value proposition, and offerings!

You can give a call to action on websites in simple text, but I prefer to design it as a button. Why? Buttons can be an eye-catching way to position a CTA. In fact, when you put a CTA on a button, it creates a 45% boost in clicks! It’s a visual reinforcement of the single action you’re presenting to users, making it more likely they’ll take that action. Ideally, each page will have at least one CTA button, building a clear path through your sales funnel. 

How to design CTA buttons

CTA buttons are small but mighty additions to your website! Keep reading to learn my best design tips to help your CTA buttons attract attention and start converting clients to customers!

Use a color that stands out

When designing a button, choose a color from your brand palette that contrasts with the rest of the page’s design! There are several ways to achieve this effect. If your site is a primarily neutral color, you can make website call-to-action buttons a stronger color from the brand palette. For site designs with large blocks of strong brand colors on the page, choosing a contrasting color that still coordinates with your palette is better. The important part is that the button stands out compared to the rest of the page to draw the viewer’s eye! As an extra step, I always check my button color pairing on a color accessibility checker to ensure it will be readable by all. Check out my go-to tool here.

Choose a simple, bold font

Using a bold font for your website’s call to action is another way to catch users’ attention by setting a button apart from the rest of the text on the page. Keep the typeface clean and simple – overly detailed or decorative lettering can make it hard to read the CTA on the button. A plain serif or sans serif font is the way to go to ensure your text is clearly and easily read.

Write clear and concise CTAs

Space on a button is limited, so this is an excellent time to keep your CTA short, sweet, and to the point. Don’t be shy about being direct and asking people to do exactly what you’d like them to do! The next action for a user isn’t always a sale; it might be visiting another page to learn more about your services or filling out a contact form. Give each call to action button on a website a specific job – resist the urge to multitask by assigning multiple actions to a single button. Remember, a CTA button has one goal: to motivate users to take the next step in their journey through your site! Once you know a button’s “job,” use that to write its copy.


CTA button designs to avoid

Just like there are ideal ways to design effective website call-to-action buttons, there are also some design choices to avoid. Let’s talk about some things to steer clear of when adding CTAs to your site.

Don’t make your CTA compete for attention.

Even if you’ve chosen a contrasting color that makes your CTA button stand out, overcrowding the space around it makes it harder for visitors to see. Calls to action on websites that are surrounded by more negative space and less clutter increase conversion rates by 232%! Take a close look at the overall design of a page and the area where the CTA button will go – when you give it plenty of space, it will be easier to make it stand out.

Avoid letting your CTA blend in with the page.

By choosing contrasting colors and giving CTA buttons adequate room on the page, you’re already on your way to avoiding this mistake. But other design choices can also make a button stand out from the rest of the page and make it look more “clickable.” Buttons that are slightly larger than other elements on the page or change color when users hover over them are simple ways to catch users’ attention.

Don’t write CTAs that confuse users.

Even if your CTA button copy is clear and direct, it can confuse potential clients if it directs them to a part of a site they haven’t read about yet. For example, a CTA that prompts viewers to “Contact us for a free consultation” would be out of place before they’ve been to a part of your site that tells them what you do! In this scenario, a “Tell me more!” CTA would be the better choice.

CTA Button Examples

Great CTA buttons will always stand out from the rest of the page and give users a direct next action to take. If you want to add extra flair, the text can even be conversational and fit the tone of the rest of your site copy.

Some of my go-to CTAs phrases are: 

  • Tell me more
  • Apply to work with me now
  • Yes, please!
  • Sign me up!
  • I’m ready for my free PDF!

Here are some of the ways to put those phrases into a CTA button design:


Don’t let your brand miss out on the opportunity to convert site visitors into clients! When you provide users with a well-designed website call to action, you’re making it easier for them to take the next steps to partner with your brand. With intentional CTA buttons, you’re behind the wheel and in control of your site’s user experience. A button that stands out and draws the eye leads viewers through a strategically designed experience on your site, seamlessly guiding them through your intended sales funnel. Thanks so much for reading my tips on what to include and avoid when designing CTA buttons on websites!

Do you need help designing a website with amazing and effective CTAs? Apply to work with me now!

Steph O'Keefe, SEO strategist and WordPress designer sitting at desk wearing a white shirt in Raleigh, NC.

I'm Steph!

I'm the Founder and creative Director behind Southern Creative, a.k.a. your SEO strategist and web designer.

My passion is crafting websites rooted in strategy so you can put your focus where your heart is while we launch your dream website that shows up online.