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Dominate the Field – Get Creative With Visuals To Stand Out and Drive Clicks

Story Highlights
  • Creatives can think strategically like footballers
  • As creatives, understand that the key to winning customers is to think of them as defenders

“Design is the art of planning, and it is the art of making things possible” – Paula Scher.

Attention is a precious resource.

People don’t spend much time on websites and videos, they say. Visitors don’t pay attention to everything. In most cases, surfers rush in to find what they need. Rather than filtering through every icon, shade, and color. In turn, your visuals will be a waste of time and energy for them.

We only have a finite amount of attention. And as science tells us, it’s like a searchlight zooming in on very little content. With our vision becoming blurry and reaching the boundary or cut-off point’ seen here:

Latest Flashlight GIFs | Gfycat

(Source: Gyfcat)

In the grand scheme of things, our observation is insignificant.

I find it fascinating how our designs can make us focus on only one character while ignoring the background. See what I mean below:

While we’re multitasking on the phone or computer, we try to pay attention. But observing everything isn’t possible – who has the time?

We tune out everything else, no matter how alert we are. Honestly, I’m really into people bragging about beating Mother Nature…let’s see what happens:

What about this masterpiece? It’s only a couple of minutes of your time and totally worth it.

Psychologists conduct experiments to get your attention, while footballers make it absolutely fun scoring.

But when a designer does it…?

How To Score Points By Persuading Like a Real Baller

“A lot of football success is in the mind. You must believe you are the best and then make sure that you are.” – Source

Football, a sport, involves kicking balls. Creativity, a bit different in the game. But consider the attributes of the best footballers – could any relate to what goes into creativity?
Let’s go:
  • Attempt to identify and mirror the creative needs of the potential customer or their audience.
  • Guide the customer’s audience to something engaging enough to shift their attention away from the indirect message.

Aren’t the leading graphic designers and 2D illustrators tackling all of this?

Football’s psychological aspects make it surprising that creativity and football don’t mix.

Like creative professionals, footballers understand what people expect from them. We make assumptions and strategies that ballers take advantage of. While those with creative flair pretend to combat such assumptions and strategies.

Take The Mentalist Football Awareness Test – As the audience jumps to conclusions about the number of passes made by the players in white. The players then show the transition of the balls between them at the perfect moment:

Like a top-notch creative expert, these ballers anticipate their audience’s minds and seize the moment.

So, you relax. Who wouldn’t? When you think you got it, only to learn they were correct – an interesting lesson. Putting trust in footballers is easier than trusting yourself.

That’s convincing.

What if there was a way to score like a champ? Here are some convincing football strategies. These creative tactics are the real way to win big; show what you’ve got. It’s time to score like a pro.

1.  Just Focus and Dribble

In football, dribbling means controlling the ball and dominating the field. Expert players use this skill to hold onto the ball and prevent defenders from getting it. To succeed, ballers must focus.

Amazingly, the same applies to creatives. Just like dribbling, you want to keep your customers focused and engaged. Human brains work quickly, just like defenders.

Remember, we can’t focus on everything at once. So putting the creative piece front and center is key. Because despite staring at a piece of creativity, some people just don’t get it.

As an example, people perform three or four tasks in a short space of 20 minutes at work. That alone says why it’s hard to grab their attention. So that’s why getting their focus is key.

Our 8 second attention span and the future of news media | VentureBeat

When playing against their opponents, footballers use the same strategy. The goal is to trick the audience and opponents into thinking certain elements are relevant. After that, they score.

This video shows a gorilla attacking a banana in the middle while others exchange balls. Yet completely unnoticed. There was even a dancing chicken. It’s all so sneaky, you don’t even see it.

The banana was in control the whole time. But by just standing there, the audience thought he wasn’t worth attention. Our focus was on keeping track of the passes.

It’s pretty much the same for creatives. Here, we guide their attention, not mislead them. Focus is what we do, not tricks. Instead of distracting, we bring awareness.

If Only We Had the Same Level of Control Over the Audience As the Ballers Do.

Is there a reason we can’t?

Researchers explain how visual design affects attention management. Rensink’s example shows how our brains process images dynamically and strategically.

5 Triadic architecture. Visual perception is carried out by three... |  Download Scientific Diagram

Most people focus on one part of the design. In this way, creatives know where to put the focal point, so viewers aren’t distracted. Let the viewer’s eyes focus on a call to action (CTA) instead of wandering.

Now that’s attention management.

To draw attention, designers can use footballers and a chicken run over by a gorilla concept. By doing that, they hide what you should see.

A superb viewing experience depends on attention management. A good example is Unbounce’s CTA on its website. By positioning this model next to the free trial button, he focuses on it, and the 28% conversion rate symbol:

Big grabber.


This visual not only captured users’ attention but also communicated the key message. This leads me to…

Unbounce’s CTA was effective as it gave direction and created urgency. Footballers do this too by showing speed and agility, forcing their opponents to act quickly or lose forever.

2. Direction and Kicking Up a Sense of Urgency

Y’know the Scissor Kick? It’s all about direction and purpose.

This football trick involves kicking with the legs and doing a snapping movement that forms a pair of scissors. International Olympic Committee illustrates this below:

Since it requires precise timing, the baller has to act now or else it will be too late. The same thing with creative pros – we have to expect to take action. That works most of the time. Otherwise, we lose our viewers’ brains.

Creative professionals can use this concept to:

  • Make a timely piece that sticks, without them knowing it’s for them
  • Utilize graphic design elements, like typography, colors, and more, to keep the message consistent
  • Maintain the same visual across all platforms with a similar pattern

3. The Step-Over

Footballers use this trick called ‘the step-over.’ The goalie thinks they’re moving one way, but they go the other way instead. It’s a sweet move that throws off the opponent and gives them a chance to score.

Take a page from their playbook by mirroring the tricks of the mind. There’s only one option for their opponents: follow through with their plan and see what happens. Here’s how you can pull off this strategy as creative professionals:

  • Don’t think this player trick only applies to certain types of designs: Make your colors pop. There’s a lot there. Colors evoke emotions and grab viewers’ attention. If you appeal to their feelings, you can easily get your point across and get them to take action.
  • It matters where you put your graphics on a platform: Targeted content. Create content that gets people to act. Creating a design that drives people to your conversion page is your job as a designer. With targeted content, you’ll get them to buy your stuff.

4. The Scorpion Kick

The Scorpion kick is the fourth and final football trick.

Surely this sounds painful. Aaaaand you may be right. Now it’s time for goalkeepers to take the field. The coolest part is that goalies don’t use their hands for this trick.

Instead, the goalkeeper kicks at the ball in an absurdly scorpion-like manner. To kick the ball toward the goalie, the hands go on the ground to lunge the back heels forward as the body throws onward.

Scorpion kicks give customers a chance to participate in the creative process. Observing isn’t enough anymore. Now they’re a team player because you’ve gained their trust.

But it’s just getting started. This is your chance to show you can keep them.

Understanding your customers’ feelings is key to customer retention says Cleverly. Knowing what your customers like and dislike about your creative work helps. By doing this, you can refine their creative content and better meet their audience’s needs.

As Radu says, “to retain customers effectively, it’s key to have a deep understanding of who your customer is. This means that you might need to do extensive research on your audience.”

I think it’s a good balance between showing appreciation and going the extra mile. Mediocrity is already a sign of poor service. Especially for subscriptions, this means lost sales.

Using Omniconvert’s suggestion, this persuasion tactic encourages you to:

  • Surprise your customers with upcoming events
  • Make automation your best friend by reaching out to them regularly
  • Share tutorials and how-to-do videos as educational resources

But putting aside retention theories, it’s amazing how much I’ve learned from footballers. And that free will is an effective strategy. Trusting the baller’s actions and following him.

No longer resisting, but allowing them to lead. Even better, believing the designer’s work is brilliant makes your score higher.

Remember when I said studying your opponent can mean building anticipation that surprises them? It’s ironic. To respond to that, you gotta strategize.

So when you’re trying to convince, and win the goalie (potential customer), make sure your designs are spectacular.

You’ll stay in business for a long time if you learn how to manage attention.

You’re done.

BTW, if you think football tricks will convince your customers, come back. You’ll score, but retaining the trophy is another story.

Get ready for a lot of tournaments ahead.

Racquel Porter

Racquel is a 2D animator and illustrator with over 8 years of experience and enjoys research and academia. There have been requests for her to work on some short 2D animation series, like Bird Girl. Join the community and check out her awesome blogs.

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