In a nutshell, visual cues are elements of a design that communicate its purpose and method of use. Common cues have developed over time out of repetitive use, natural association with other cues, and common sense (or the minds natural processes).
These cues are vital to the success of a product. If a person is confused by the cues he/she is left to read pages of instructions. If the cues are wrong he/she will feel betrayed and put-off. If they are obvious, descriptive, and accurate the individual will enjoy their natural like experience.
Have you ever entered a public building and pushed on a door, then realize after your face smacks the glass you were suppose to pull? Usually, you feel kind of dumb and look around to make sure no one noticed, but most likely this could have been a result of poor cues. This happened to me recently, going into Office Max. The first set of doors had a large flat area, perfect for pushing, yet it was meant to pull. The second set had the exact same handle, yet it was a push. Sure, I could have read the large print which described the appropriate action, but my point still stands. Better visual cues = better customer experience.
I’m interested in your experiences, what have you done to design better descriptive cues?