I am wondering if it is okay to place an arrow as a button. So traditional button includes: Text, Background Image, Border and Hover Effect. Is it a good idea to use an arrow without text, border or background color as a button?

If not, why and why is it a bad idea to do so?

  • 1
    There actually is an example right here, to the left of the above question text. On this site they are in grey circles, but on many other stackexchange sites they are not.
    – Philipp
    Oct 18, 2018 at 14:05
  • 1
    Thanks for your contribution to UXSE. It seems like arrows as buttons are already quite common, so is your question relating to a specific use case of arrows as buttons? If so, can you provide more detail or an example for what you had in mind? Thanks.
    – Michael Lai
    Oct 18, 2018 at 15:45

2 Answers 2


Agree with Ken. Users derive an icon's meaning based on context. Arrow grouped with pagination elements means "Next or Previous page". Arrow on header of a table means "Sort". Arrow by a comment post means "Upvote or Downvote".

Be careful where you are placing the arrow and make sure how it is used follows the behavior used on other websites.

Users derive meaning through past experiences: Arrow in a carousel always means next / prev slide, since they have used it like that on all other websites for the past 20 years. If you change that behavior and the click results in for example, loading the next page, you will get a lot of confused users.

If your arrow is used in an unconventional manner due to specific product needs, clearly label it to decrease friction between what the user expects the arrow to do vs what it actually does.


It depends.

If your arrow buttons are where people would expect "next" and "previous" buttons to be (e.g., on the left and right edges of a slider panel), then they'll probably work.

Without that context, users will be less likely to understand what the arrows mean.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.