“Our focus of attention is highly influenced by visual cues”
A visual cue is a signal which your brain extracts from what you see. It indicates the state of some property around you that you are interested in perceiving.
Now, only 1% of what you see actually enters through your eyes (the rest is -surprisingly correct – made up by your brain). You can only see really well with your ‘fovea’: an area in the exact center of your retina that is the size of your thumbnail on an arm-length distance).
It is therefore important to direct your customers’ fovea-attention, for example, by using visual cues in the periphery of their vision. These cues can be obvious (e.g. an arrow), but also very subtle (e.g. text in the form of an arrow).
Especially on websites, visual cues have proven extremely effective.
Two clarifying stories
The reason why the moon appears huge on the horizon is simply that our bubble of perception does not stretch out 380,000 kilometers. It runs out of space. So what we do is we compare the buildings within our perceptual bubble, and we make a decision. We make a decision it’s that big, even though it’s not that big.
Or imagine you’re at an airport trying to make it to your gate. Arrows make it easy for you -and others- where to look and where to go. Now imagine that all these arrows disappear… In an airport visual cues are elementary. They turn places into passages, direct crowds, and urge you to ‘move on’.
Just like they can do in your online dialogue…