Subliminally Directing Visitor Attention Towards Your Page’s Goal

Today we’re going to take a look at a technique which can be used to subliminally direct your visitor’s attention towards the goal of your page. It is a technique that’s not only overlooked by the site’s visitors but often the site owner too.

The Technique

The basic principle is to have one or more graphic elements that subliminally direct your visitor’s attention towards the goal of your page, towards the call to action.

This technique is very commonly used in the world of print advertising but utilized surprisingly little online. It is often manifested by a person (or animal) looking in a certain direction, making the viewer look in that direction too.

This is because people tend to look in the same direction as other people, verified in this study. So in print ads you’ll often find images of people looking directly at the headline or a phone number.

Online you can (and should) obviously do the same. Let’s take a look at MailChimp who is actually doing this.

An Online Example

MailChimp uses their mascot’s eyes to direct the visitor’s attention towards their headline. Notice how MailChimp’s mascot, a chimp, not only looks directly at the page’s headline, but is also walking towards it, immediately making your eyes wander in the same direction:

Chimp directing visitor’s attention towards headline.

To show you how important this is to get right, take a look below where I made the chimp walk and look the other way, away from the page’s headline and call to action:

Chimp distracting visitor from content.

Besides looking odd, this immediately moves focus away from both headline and call to action, towards the chimp itself. When looking away, the chimp becomes a distraction which actually hurts conversion instead of improving it. The chimp is reduced to a useless decoration instead of vehicle for directing the visitor’s attention.

The Conclusion

So when you’re using images of people (or chimps) consider in what direction they are looking as this actually has an immense impact on where your visitors will be looking on your page.

Do you yourself use graphic elements to director your visitor’s attention towards the goal of your page? Or know of anybody else that does?

Authored by Christian Holst on October 20, 2009

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