During an internal creative review meeting for a hospice website this week, I heard something that I never thought I would hear: “That call-to-action is too strong.” You could almost hear the wheels start spinning in everyone’s mind.
After discussing the call-to-action further, we realized that the problem wasn’t the CTA itself, but an unbalanced execution.
Half of the room thought that the website was not emotionally branded enough and the CTA was too much, too soon. They believed it needed to be about the connection first and foremost. The other half of the room agreed that the emotional branding was very important, but that the usability of the site needed to come first.
They’re both right. We just needed to strike a better balance.
People make decisions based on both emotional responses and rational thought processes. Usability governs “Can they do it?” Emotion governs “Will they do it?” You need both to create a successful website.
Our brains are far more integrated than we give them credit for. They can evaluate rationally and emotionally at the same time. So the argument that emotional branding needs to yield to usability and vice versa ignores this necessary bond. For example, you may think buying a vacuum cleaner is a rational purchase, but deciding which brand to buy can be highly emotional. To spend $500 on a Dyson Animal, you better have some really sensible reasons. But when it comes to the final decision, people will ask themselves, “Of these that I can afford, which do I feel best about?” This is a person emotionalizing a rational decision. When looking at hospice, it’s an intensely emotional decision. “Who do I trust with the end of my Mother’s life?” But people will rationalize this emotional decision by looking at how easy it is to find the information about the types of services they’re looking for.
That’s why you need a careful balance of each, especially when designing websites for delicate subjects like hospice services and cancer treatment. A website that appeals to both sides of the brain, embracing a realistic balance, pulls brands from the fringes to a more resonant place, where people see them as addressing both emotional and rational needs.
How do you ensure balance when designing sensitive websites? If you have any input, let’s discuss in the comments.