Primary Action

Primary Action: Designing Effective Calls to Action in UX Design

The primary action in UX design refers to the main action that users are encouraged to take on a given interface, such as submitting a form, completing a purchase, or saving settings. Designing effective primary actions is crucial for guiding users towards desired outcomes and ensuring a seamless user experience.

What is a Primary Action?

A primary action is the most important action on a screen or interface that aligns with the user’s goal and the product’s objective. It is typically represented by a prominent button or interactive element that stands out from other elements on the page. The primary action should be easily identifiable and straightforward to encourage user engagement and completion of key tasks.

Importance of Primary Actions in UX Design

  1. User Guidance: Clear primary actions guide users towards completing their tasks efficiently, reducing confusion and improving the overall user experience.
  2. Task Completion: Highlighting the primary action helps ensure that users can easily identify and complete the most critical tasks on a page or interface.
  3. Conversion Optimization: In contexts such as e-commerce or lead generation, well-designed primary actions can significantly enhance conversion rates by making it easy for users to take the next step.
  4. Visual Hierarchy: Primary actions contribute to the visual hierarchy of a design, helping users understand the importance and flow of different elements on a page.
  5. Usability: Effective primary actions enhance usability by providing clear, actionable steps for users to follow, reducing friction and improving satisfaction.

Key Principles for Designing Primary Actions

  1. Visibility: The primary action should be prominently placed and easily visible on the screen. Use contrasting colors, larger sizes, and clear labels to make it stand out.
  2. Clarity: Use clear and concise text that accurately describes the action. Avoid vague terms like “Click Here” and instead use specific labels like “Submit,” “Buy Now,” or “Save Changes.”
  3. Consistency: Maintain consistency in the design and placement of primary actions throughout the interface. This helps users recognize and understand the action quickly.
  4. Affordance: Design primary action buttons to look clickable. Use visual cues such as shadows, borders, and hover effects to indicate interactivity.
  5. Placement: Position the primary action in a logical and easily accessible location, typically at the end of a user workflow or in the area where the action is most relevant.

Best Practices for Implementing Primary Actions

  1. One Primary Action per Screen: Limit each screen or interface to one primary action to avoid overwhelming users and to provide a clear focus for their next step.
  2. Secondary Actions: Clearly differentiate primary actions from secondary actions. Use a less prominent design for secondary actions to maintain the visual hierarchy.
  3. Feedback: Provide immediate feedback when the primary action is taken. Use visual, auditory, or haptic feedback to confirm that the action was successful.
  4. Accessibility: Ensure that primary actions are accessible to all users, including those with disabilities. Use sufficient color contrast, larger touch targets, and keyboard navigability.
  5. Testing and Iteration: Conduct usability testing to gather feedback on the effectiveness of primary actions. Iterate based on user feedback to improve clarity and usability.

Tools for Designing and Testing Primary Actions

  1. Design Software: Tools like Adobe XD, Figma, and Sketch allow designers to create and prototype primary actions within their interfaces.
  2. User Testing Platforms: Platforms like UserTesting, Lookback, and Maze enable designers to test primary actions with real users and gather feedback.
  3. Analytics Tools: Tools like Google Analytics and Hotjar can track user interactions with primary actions, providing data on how effectively users are engaging with them.
  4. Accessibility Checkers: Tools like Axe, WAVE, and Lighthouse help ensure that primary actions meet accessibility standards.
  5. A/B Testing Tools: Platforms like Optimizely and VWO allow designers to perform A/B testing on different primary action designs to determine which performs best.

Real-World Examples

  1. Amazon: The “Buy Now” and “Add to Cart” buttons on Amazon product pages are clearly designed primary actions, using prominent colors and placement to encourage purchasing.
  2. Netflix: The “Sign Up Now” button on Netflix’s homepage is a clear primary action designed to drive user subscriptions, with prominent placement and contrast.
  3. Airbnb: The “Search” button on Airbnb’s homepage is a primary action that guides users to explore listings, using a distinct color and clear label.
  4. Slack: The “Get Started” button on Slack’s homepage encourages users to begin the sign-up process, standing out with a bold design and straightforward text.
  5. Dropbox: The “Sign up for free” button on Dropbox’s homepage is a primary action aimed at driving user registrations, featuring a prominent color and clear call-to-action.


Designing effective primary actions is essential for guiding users towards desired outcomes and enhancing the overall user experience. By focusing on visibility, clarity, consistency, affordance, and strategic placement, designers can create primary actions that drive engagement and task completion. Implementing best practices and leveraging the right tools ensures that primary actions are intuitive, accessible, and effective in achieving product goals.

Ondrej Zoricak
Ondrej Zoricak