I’m going to take a different approach to this post and use photography to illustrate some principles of design. Understanding these fundamental concepts will help you grab your visitors attention and direct them to your intended conversion goal. There are multiple ways to catch the attention of your visitors; you can use bold, catchy, funny or controversial copy or beautiful typographic design, you can have a video to allow a multimedia experience, and you can use some fundamental principles of design to guide the eyes of your customers with directional cues. Suggestive Directional Cues: Abstract techniques that guide attention in a more subtle way. Explicit Directional Cues: The use of arrows and real-world indicators familiar to our learned behaviour. Some of these principles can be utilized by using photography directly, and for the rest, the illustrative powers of a photograph should be all you need to understand the concept.
In this example, the muted tones of the meadow drive your eye to the Pronghorn positioned in the corner. The purpose is to use simple spacial positioning to allow your Call To Action (CTA) to stand out from it’s surroundings and give your eye only one thing to focus on.
Landing page tip: Give your CTA or lead gen form some breathing room to allow it to stand out from the rest of your design.
This is a fairly simple concept that applies across the color spectrum, but is most easily viewed in monochrome. Attention is focused on the primary element rising from the lake, and a secondary feature (the bush) due to the contrast with their surroundings.
This is a more subtle example that shows how contrast can be used to highlight one or two key elements of a design. Your eye is drawn to the Tufa formation rising from the lake, and then bounces down to the bush.
Landing page tip: Test using an impactful and contrasting photo as your hero shot, and mirror the palette choice and contrast levels on your CTA to draw a parallel and guide the visitor from the emotional element to the conversion goal. In the first example, the Capuchin is looking at the Banana as if were a hand in a game of cards. Landing page tip: Use photography of people or animals on your landing page and have them stare directly at your CTA with either the angle of their head or their eyes (in a closeup).
There’s a reason why banner blindness has helped click through rates plummet over the last few years. People have become programmed to know where the advertising is positioned on your website, enabling them to switch off (or put on blinders like a racehorse) to concentrate on the content instead. In the photo shown, the person (me) is so out of place in the photo of a desert slot canyon that it makes you question it’s purpose or reality. This is a classic technique used to hijack your visitors eyes and create a tunnel vision effect.


In the first example a strong dark line is created by the river which helps to hold your attention in the center of the frame.
In the second example, a circular arch creates a frame for the feature in the distance, preventing your eye from wandering elsewhere in the photo. The previous examples were all very suggestive and implied an interaction with your visitors. As directional cues, arrows are about as subtle as a punch in the face – which is why they work so well. Landing page tip: Call attention to your most important page elements by using strangely placed and angled arrows. Pathways are representations of real-world wayfinding avenues that trigger our brain into thinking we need to follow them. Please comment if you find any other photos that illustrate either these or any other design principles. And if you have sample landing pages that show them in action please share for everyone to learn from. Your post describing conversion reasoning from a design perspective shows just why a marketing team ought to work directly with their designers. Yeah, working with a designer is critical – and get them involved early in the process. Color theory is an interesting topic with landing pages, especially when you’re already working with an existing brand and color palette.
Agreed, I am testing these techniques out on a landing page of my own, I will let you know the results, hopefully I will an increase in conversions..
I do find though that applying other mediums or real-world examples can aid the learning process. Your feedback is much appreciated, and good inspiration for me to crank out some more posts. The following is a short description of the Dada movement, taken from a review of the Dada show at the Centre Pompidou, Paris during 2004-2005. Voluntarily nihilistic and provocative, the movement started in Zurich during World War I under the aegis of the Romanian poet Tristan Tzara. The photograph in the Foundation's collection showing a group of Dada artists, including Celine Arnault, was reproduced in Dada's Women, a book written by Ruth Hemus and published in 2009 by Yale University Press. Similarly, the most important aspect of your landing page design is to focus the visitor’s attention on that conversion area.
Orange for example is known to generate positive feelings and as such is a great choice for the color of your CTA. This example also illustrates the contrast of color compared to the muted surrounding area.


In this shot, you are not only curious about what could be in the grass, but you are forced to look downwards with the Coyote.
Your attention is first driven to the Elk in the bottom-right corner (this would be your primary headline or Unique Selling Proposition). You can think of it like creating a window on your landing page where your CTA is the view.
If you want to get a bit more instructive and literal, you can try using more explicit directional cues to point and lead the way. The arrow is a directional pointer, the man opposite is then firing you right back to the guy with the arrow using his eyes, and finally the upside-down text acts as an interruption that make you stop and stare (and most likely rotate your head to figure out what it says). Tie a sequence of arrows together to define a path for the visitor to follow, ending at your CTA.
This example shows a long straight road, leading your eye to the large rock formation at the top of the photo. Triangles are the most dynamic of all shapes, and their natural tendency to point make them a special design tool (in the same way that an arrow is a more intricately designed pathway). I’d be curious to hear about any successful AB Testing that has shown an increase in conversions just from changing some colors.
The amount of details, effort and magic that you put into each of your posts is simply unparalleled. This review originally appeared in the International Herald Tribune (Saturday-Sunday, October 8-9, 2005). These images show the cover, title page and the reproduction of the Foundation's photograph.
But if you have a very clean design without much detail or copy, a big black or white button can be dramatic. Roads are so strongly ingrained in our psyche as the path of least resistance that we naturally gravitate towards them as a transport guide. I can totally relate as an avid photographer myself, and aspiring to learn more about conversions.
Using innovative techniques as collages and performances, the artists, such as Arp, Schwitters, Ernst, Picabia, Man Ray, Duchamp and Breton, among many others, expressed themselves through paintings, sculptures, poetry, photography, photomontages and graphic arts. Turn this into a crowd of people looking in a certain direction and we behave like sheep or lemmings, blindly (?) following the implied or perceived importance of the actions of others. The Dada movement, however, was unstable, and Surrealism was born in 1924, attracting many of the former Dada artists.



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