Think about your courageous online journey to get to this article. How many buttons did you click on your way here?

Whether you realize it or not, you are clicking buttons all the time. Buttons are visually appealing links that get the attention of users. They are typically used as a call-to-action to sign up for an email list or purchase a product.

The most essential attribute of a button is that it meets the user’s expectations. No one will click on it if they aren’t sure what will happen next. Here are some principles to keep in mind so users don’t question what happens when they click the button.

The Button Is Labeled

Have you ever seen a button that simply says, “Click Here”? Thank you, button. I know I’m supposed to click on you, but you aren’t telling me what happens when I do!

Make sure your buttons are appropriately labeled. If you want someone to sign up for your email list, then the button should be labeled, “Sign Up.” If you place the button at the end of a product listing, the button should say, “Buy Now.” The way you phrase your button’s label can go a long way in how engaged the user is.

Your button should be labeled so it matches user expectation. They’re more likely to click on it if they know the next step.

It’s Where It Belongs

I clicked on an article about tablets, and there’s a button at the top of the article. Why is it there?

Button placement is important because you want people to see it. However, you have to make sure the placement makes sense. There should be some set-up in the article that leads you into the button. Having it at the top doesn’t make sense in context with the rest of the article.

Random button placement will certainly have visitors questioning what’ll happen if they click on it. Your button needs to be in a place where users will expect a button.

The Button Is Functional

You’re on a website when a pop-up ad suddenly appears. You see an “X” in the top right, so you click on it. Nothing happens. A few seconds later you find the “Close This Ad” button in light text near the bottom of the ad. But it’s too late. You no longer trust the website.

People will leave your website if certain buttons don’t work. It’s a violation of their trust because they expected the button to work and it didn’t meet their expectations. If they click on a button and it does something different, the users might panic and leave your website all together. Make sure the button is working properly.

It Looks Like a Button

Have you ever come across a button that is placed where one should be and it’s labeled like a button, but it just doesn’t look like a button? You hesitate to click on it because you aren’t sure what’ll happen if you do.

Buttons should look like buttons. Their colors should pop in comparison to the background and there should be a slight shading when your cursor hovers over it. The user should be tempted to click on it to get to the next step.

Buttons that don’t look like buttons are a red flag for users. The design is lazy, and users won’t take the risk of clicking on them.

Avoid the Question

You should never put your users in a position where they’re questioning a button on the website. Do everything you can to make users avoid the dreaded question — “What happens when I click the button?”

Buffer