Print: Section 2.5

Write Actionable Content

2.5 Provide specific action steps.

Give users the tools they need to get started. Users are looking for action steps, especially things they can do immediately.28,38,39,40,41 It’s not enough to tell users what to do. You also need to tell them how to do it.

Break behavior into small steps.

Breaking behaviors into small, manageable steps gives users choices about which steps feel realistic and doable. When possible, lead with steps users can take right away.

Figure 2.4

This page has specific action steps—they’re concrete and manageable.

Screen shot of 'Watch Your Weight' topic


Breaking behaviors into small steps improves users’ self-efficacy.28,38,39,40,41

Try this

Next time you’re creating messages, incorporate personal stories of people who have made a healthy behavior change to strengthen your messaging. Storytelling can go a lot further than statistics when it comes to improving your reader’s self-efficacy. Even adding a single quotation from someone your reader can relate to can make a big difference.

Create interactive content.

As part of your action steps, engage users with interactive content like menu planners, printable checklists, and questions to ask a doctor (learn more in section 5).


“This is good information because a lot of times, I take information to the doctor and ask questions about diet issues, what to avoid, and medications.”

Explain the “why” of the action step.

Tell users the reason behind what you’re asking them to do. This will help them understand why it’s important that they take the step.


Keep a food diary. Knowing what you eat now will help you figure out what you want to change.