The exact words you choose on the Web can have a huge impact on behavior. Finding the right combination of words takes testing and a focus on the action.
Dustin Curtis creates user interfaces. He's a creative type. I knew that as soon as I visited his website because he uses a black background. That's very creative. It's amazing how many creative types use the exact same black background to tell the rest of us that they are creative and have a very individual approach to design.
It's hard to read what Dustin writes on this black background; gave me a bit of a headache actually. But that's okay. I had a great overall experience of the page because its black background communicated an important emotional, aesthetic thing to me.
Seriously, it's a bit of a pity Dustin makes it so hard to read his stuff because what he has to say is quite interesting. At the end of his articles, Dustin has a short, humorous bio. In this bio he has tested a variety of ways to request people to follow him on Twitter.
The first one he tested contained the following within his bio: "I'm on Twitter." (with the "Twitter" as the link) That had a conversion rate of 4.7 percent. Then he tried: "Follow me on Twitter." (with the Twitter as the link). This had a conversion rate of 7.3 percent. Next up was: "You should follow me on Twitter" (with "Twitter" as the link). The conversion was 10.1 percent. Next, Dustin tried the following approach (I'm showing you the whole bio).
My name is Dustin Curtis. I make user interfaces and experiences. I am 8,227 days old. You should follow me on twitter here. You can learn more about me in my about article and on my less interesting blog.
In the above approach, "here" was the link. This had a conversion rate of 12.8 percent. This is very interesting stuff and shows the benefits of testing. However, here are a few observations. I've found that the most effective links are written like headings, not part of sentences at all. I've found that putting links in sentences reduces readability and clickability. I've also found that using blue text and underlining the link immediately makes it obvious that it is a link.
The problem is, of course, that it's hard to have blue and underline when you have a black background. Isn't it amazing how many designers hate underline? They think it's ugly, that it takes away from the look of the page.
Have you read any grey books recently? I mean, have you read any books that use grey text or that have black backgrounds? Or, for that matter, have you read any print newspapers or magazines that use grey text? It's well documented that it's harder to read on a screen than in print. So why do designers deliberately create webpages that make reading even harder? Simple, really. Many web designers are more concerned with how the page looks than how it reads and functions.
Strange though it may seem to some, the number one activity on the Web is reading.