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Does anyone know of any data that backs up adding directional arrows to CTAs whether text links or buttons? I always personally felt it was just added noise or bespoke design aesthetic but I'm curious about this.

Here are some examples of buttons with directional arrows I am referring to.

Button with directional arrow

Text link with directional arrow

Button with directional arrow

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It really is a graphical redundancy. I didn't find any data about it, but here I describe my perception in case of justifying its use

I start from the basic meaning of the arrow symbol = next, ahead, go ahead. If a CTA implies the fact of jump, advance or change, the use of the arrow on a text button could be allowed in the following cases, all of them to differentiate them from other CTA buttons:

Contrast

To differentiate actions that will be carried out on the same page or outside:

enter image description here

The image shows that the only arrow in principle redundant is the horizontal one from left to right since the text itself indicates a change or jump. The other arrows implies actions that will be carried out on the same page .

enter image description here

Form Stepper

  • Beyond the direction of advance shown by the arrow, it's also a visual way of indicating the form is not yet complete, for contrast, the user will know / see that they have not reached the end yet.

FORM NEXT BUTTON

  • In the case of forms, the arrow makes more sense when there's the possibility of going back to the previous step:

BACK_NEXT BUTTONS

Subliminal Action

When the text doesn't make any direct reference to the action, although it does imply a next step:

enter image description here

Menu Arrows

In menu items the arrow has a double meaning: the uncollapse action to show the hidden content.

enter image description here

Real Meaning

In a text/icon CTA buttons group when the arrow icon corresponds to its real definition

enter image description here

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    Well said—I do agree with everything you said and that's basically how I always saw this as well. However, I do see arrows added to (sometimes) all links and buttons regardless of the context. As in my example screenshots above, I think speak to the latter. You're probably right on all of your points but I'm still curious if just adding these arrows to any buttons or links adds value other than our professional assumptions. Thanks for the reply though— it's certainly an appropriate response on all points presented.
    – rohicks
    Jun 14, 2021 at 16:35

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