Visually direct and captivate your visitors

3 June, 2014 by Thijs de Valk – 14 Comments

In the last month I’ve been speaking at a few conferences with a talk I’ve dubbed “The Psychology behind Conversion”. In this talk I’m trying to explain why everyone who maintains a website should be interested in psychology and how it can help them.

Being interested in psychology, especially when applied to the web, is more than just reading Cialdini’s Influence. Don’t get me wrong by the way, that book is awesome. But there are just so much more psychological processes at work than people are probably aware of. One of the most important ones, to my mind, is visual attention. People undoubtedly understand that attention is of importance when it comes to doing, well, anything really. So the same goes for visiting websites. But in my opinion it is not just attention, but visual attention that’s most important for visiting websites.

Visual attention

There are a lot of processes playing their part in this. We are very visual beings, and not being able to see, especially when you’re used to seeing, impairs us more than anything. It literally helps us understand our world. Our sight can even influence our other senses, such as taste.

So it’s of great importance to direct your visitor’s visual attention to those parts of your website you want them to see. To make sure you’re keeping their visual attention. In this post, I will discuss three aspects of visual attention: visual cueing, facial distraction and perceptual incongruence.

Visual cueing

Visual cueing basically means directing your visitors’ gazes. You can do this with colors or textual directions, but the most effective way is shapes. And there’s one shape that’s unparalleled when it comes to visual cueing: the arrow. Now, I use the term ‘arrow’ in a broad term, as it can be an actual arrow, or more of a triangle shape.

On you can find a great explanation on this. Especially this picture makes it very clear:


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