Don’t Read This; Contact Us.

I had an inner battle with myself about whether the first article I wrote should be an article “complaining” about design trends (but obviously the side that won was the side that didn’t mind).

Okay back to the real reason you are here – to figure out what the heck that title means. There is a trend in web design with designers using Google’s Material Design with a floating action button, but using it incorrectly. In case you aren’t familiar with what a floating action button is, Google’s guidelines explicitly say “Usage: Only one floating action button is recommended per screen to represent the most common action.”

Herein lies my issue with this trend: this button is supposed to represent the most common action on your site. So following that logic, when you make the floating action button “Contact Us” or “Help” you are alluding to users “Don’t bother using our site, you won’t be able to figure it out, we didn’t do a very good job designing. Go ahead and contact us.”

I don’t know about your product and company goals, but it’s safe to assume that a higher volume of emails or calls isn’t one .

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If you are saying to yourself “That’s all well and good, Sean, but what is a good example of using a floating button?” I have just the thing for you, Google’s Inbox app and website uses this button correctly (not very surprising since it’s their design language, but you asked…)

Goals of email

  1. Write an email to someone (floating button)
  2. Read emails that were sent to you.

Therefore, the floating button is to write an email — not to contact them. This is the main goal they want you to complete while using this product, so they make it as easy as possible to do it.

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copyright of Google. Grabbed from

I understand that being helpful to the user is important, and by no means am I suggesting to remove the contact links on your site. The user should be able to ask you a question — if they have a question.

My point is as designers we need to do a better job explaining what the goal of the page is and make it easy for the user to complete that goal. We need to not lean so heavily on users contacting us if they don’t understand what to do.

Hope you enjoyed this article and I hope it helps someone out there. Don’t forget to recommend this article and post your thoughts about it.

Written by

Native New Yorker — Designing in California

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