It’s Time To Put a Stop To Getting Started On Your Business’s Website

Filed under: Business Website Tips | Website Improvement

In every industry, trends change.

And whether it’s medicine, education or web design, what was once considered a best practice sometimes proves to be unproductive. Or worse, counterproductive.

Until recently, the “Get Started” button was believed—even at one point by our web design and development team here at DisplayGround—to be an important feature of professional home page designs that lead users to the next step in the conversion process.

No longer.

Recent research conducted by the Nielsen Norman Group has shown that the “Get Started” button, despite its ability to attract clicks, can too easily lead users into a maze of unexpected pages and unwanted information. When users can’t find what they’re looking for, or are led somewhere they aren’t expecting or don’t want to be, they become frustrated and lose trust. Neither of these results is good for winning or keeping customers.

The Problem

“Get Started” buttons are highly effective at attracting user attention due to their combination of high ambiguity and, typically, visibility. In part, companies feature Get Started buttons because they want to get as many clicks, sign-ups and sales as possible. This is especially common among websites dealing with memberships and services where account creation is required. Further, companies often mistakenly design their websites thinking about either new users OR users already familiar with their products and services—not both.

Website users can all too easily assume that clicking a Get Started button is the logical next step for any of their needs. However, user needs vary significantly depending on how much each user knows about the company in question. Needs can range from wanting basic information about a company and its services, wanting to join a mailing list, needing contact information or physical locations, purchasing a product, or subscribe to a service.

The Get Started button is usually so prominent and so successful at garnering attention on website home pages that users frequently:

  1. Miss the fact that there is additional information below the fold
  2. Ignore surrounding text that is often the precise information they’re looking for
  3. Overlook text that alerts them to the consequences of clicking the button

As a result, users, new or otherwise, wind up…

  • Where they don’t want to be
  • Where they aren’t ready to be

Places users don’t want to be or aren’t ready to be include account-creation pages, sign-up forms, surveys/quizzes and purchase/checkout pages.

Take, for example, the site (below). Upon arriving at their site and looking at their homepage, users can easily assume that clicking the “Get Started” button is the only possible action to take, and the only way to get further information. During their research on this site, the Nielsen Normal group found that, due to the design, users not only failed to see that general information about the company existed below the fold, but when they clicked on the button, they were presented with a sign-up form. Unless a user is ready to sign up right away (and most aren’t), this is highly problematic.

Splitwise Screenshots

On (below), clicking the “Get Started” button appears to be the logical next step. However, regardless of a user’s purpose for being on the site, the button takes him directly to a style quiz from which he can’t even opt out. Users are obligated to complete the style quiz to either access the catalog (that happens to be partially visible beneath it) or move forward in any other way. The only alternative is to click the back arrow to return to the home page.

JustFab Screenshots

Both a new user searching for basic information and a return visitor intent on placing an order are going to feel frustrated.

The Consequences

Research has shown that a “Get Started” button can have serious negative side effects for business websites. They include:

  • Setting false expectations and/or confusion, leading to user frustration
  • Creating the impression of deception, leading to user disillusionment and a sense of betrayal
  • Causing a user to abandon a site—and possibly go to a competitor’s site
The bottom line: A generic call-to-action button can mean a potential loss of business.

The Conclusions

Although “Get Started” buttons may lead to more clicks, they don’t lead to real results. Because these buttons are too generic and ambiguous, the Nielsen Norman Group—and we at DisplayGround—recommend not using them in website homepage designs.

A better strategy is to state clearly what users should expect when clicking on a button (for example, replacing “Get Started” with “Take Our Style Quiz” or “Buy Your Copy Now”).

Make it easy for all users, whether new or returning, to find exactly what they’re looking for and avoid sending them down rabbit holes.

As industry leaders, DisplayGround stays on the cutting edge by keeping up with the latest research so that we can help our clients design the most effective, results-generating website possible.

Schedule your free strategy session today and let’s explore the results you could be seeing from your company’s site.

Source: Harley, Aurora and Kim Flaherty. “’Get Started’ Stops Users,” Nielsen Norman Group. August 20, 2017.