Boost Your Conversions by Using Directional Cues

March 3, 2016

Share This:

The way that companies market their online products or services has completely changed over the last couple of years as companies have dropped the “branding only” state of mind, adopting a more performance based marketing structure. ‘Leads’, ‘conversions’ and ‘downloads’ are only a few of the buzz words that are being thrown around these days, as companies try lots of different marketing tactics to achieve their goals and not just get their company’s name out there.

KPI Indicator

While some performance oriented veterans have a slight advantage, already knowing how to implement conversion techniques, correct UX and the use of emotional triggers to achieve performance, most companies are still playing a game of catch up, trying to understand what marketing tools and optimisation techniques they should be using to stay competitive and keep up in this new performance driven world.

Nice designs and Slogans have become a thing of the past and are now being replaced by persuasive designs and direct marketing techniques to encourage users to take action and complete goals – anything to boost conversions. One of the tactics that are being used to motivate users to take action is called directional cues.

In this short article, I’ll explain what directional cues are, give a few examples on how brands use them and what you can achieve by using them.

What are Directional Cue?

Before I explain how they’re used, lets go offline for a sec to understand what they really are. Ever been to Ikea and seen footprints on the floor showing you the way around? Furthermore, if you think about it, you can’t really walk around freely, you have to go on their path, through all their different departments to get to the end, to the cashiers. The way that the store is structured and the visual elements that they use to direct you on your journey are known as directional cues.


They use these directional cues to get you to go through their entire showcase hoping that you will purchase more products than what you originally came to buy. Sure, Ikea could have structured the store in a different way allowing you to walk around freely in any path you choose, but they know that if they lead the way, there will be more of a chance you’ll pick something else up or stop to look at something you didn’t really intend to buy. They motivate you to look at everything in their store, improving their chances of conversion, which in their case is getting you to purchase more products.

So the same goes for online products. Most of your users are probably landing on your Website or landing pages and then trying to figure out what’s the next step. What should they do and what should they look at?

Why leave that decision up to them?

By using direction cues, you can induce your visitors to scroll, fill out forms, click on buttons or simply scroll down to the bottom of a page to read more information. Sure, directional cues aren’t the holy grail to all your conversion problems, you’re still going to need persuasive copy, killer design and a correct page structure, but by adding directional cues you can influence your user’s attention, focusing it on what you want him to do or where you want him to to go.

There lots of different types of directional cues you can incorporate into your landing page designs. Here I’ve rounded up the more popular ones:

  • Arrows
  • Pointing/staring
  • Lines
  • Asymmetrical layout
  • Color


Our first directional cue is more obvious than some of the others as it literally directs your attention to the objective of the page. On this following page the company uses arrows to direct the users’ attention to sign up and receive the Book.

UX Directional cue arrow

When using arrows it’s best to contrast them with the rest of the page to make them more visible. Also try to use one or two arrows max, otherwise you are just going to be confusing your users, guiding them in different directions.

Another common way companies are using arrows is by placing them at the bottom of the screen, slightly above the fold, indicating to the user that there is more information below.

KINHR do this very elegantly with their arrow pointing downwards

KinHR arrow

Pointing or Staring

Pointing or staring is another cool way of getting your users to notice something. While most use pointing directional cues to lead the user to sign up or download, some companies use it in a different way, pointing to something important on the page. Something that may increase the company’s brand awareness or level of trust.  

In the example below, Jimdo strategically placed their background image in a way so that the guy in the background is looking down at the text and the button.

Jimdo Staring


Lines are a less obvious one. You’ll really need a good designer who knows his stuff to implement linear directional cues on a page and for them to work. Your lines might guide your users through different information or allow the user to understand the navigation of a page. Some companies use lines in their promotional videos helping their users to stay focused on a specific part of the screen as things change. Teamtreehouse.com also do this quite well when trying to explain how their product works. On their page you can see that they use lines to show the reading process.

ux directional cue lines

Asymmetrical layout

This is a common one that is used by many hosting services or companies that sell different packages. If you are offering different packages but know that your ROI comes from one specific package, then you might want to design the page in a asymmetrical way, so that the profitable package you want your users to purchase stands out.

Digital Ocean’s design is clean and elegant incorporating the asymmetrical approach. As you can see their preferred package stands out from the rest in color and in layout.

Directional cues


This is an easy one and you are probably already implementing it in your current pages. Most companies use the color directional cue on their call-to-action buttons, like Skype does. Their main goal is for viewers to download their program and start using it. The first thing you notice on the page is the large green download button. It hits you as you enter the page.

Direction Cue Color

Final Thoughts

Directional cues are a great way to boost your conversions and are one of the tactics we use to get users to take action on a page. Just remember that when implementing them, don’t abuse them otherwise they will have the opposite effect causing your users to leave.

If you want to combine out-of-the-box conversion rate optimisation with development – Contact us for free consultation

Web Development Banner 2

Share This: