October 3, 2022


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Principles of Visual Hierarchy

Design has existed since the beginning of time. From the ancient stone era to the newer generation of electronic gadgets we use today. Since the design is being used as a purpose to communicate with each other. That’s why design should be improved to increase the user experience. In this article we will learn about visual hierarchy and how we can use it for improving our products and optimize our designs.

What Is Visual Hierarchy ?

Visual hierarchy is a visual design principle that is used to highlight the importance of each content in the design. It also establishes each element in its rightful place and helps the most important one to stand out. Visual hierarchy controls the delivery of the experience. If you have a hard time figuring out where to look on a page, it’s more than likely that its layout is missing a clear visual hierarchy.

Why We Need Visual Hierarchy?

When a human eye encounters any design, it follows certain patterns to read and a specific direction to preview the design. And here the hierarchy plays its role and makes sure that every element or content follows the correct order. For to be specific the human eye scans the content in the following patterns- from left to right or from top to bottom, or in Z and F pattern.

Design is all about communication. This can drastically change the amount of effort that is needed to engage with the product and content. Each of these things has a structure for organization based on its importance.

Principles Of Visual Hierarchy:

A powerful visual hierarchy leads users to serve its purpose. So for that, we need to first understand the Principles of Visual Hierarchy.

  • Size and scale
  • Color and tint
  • Alignment
  • Proximity
  • Whitespace
  • Texture and Style

Take a look at this and make sure you grasp each idea.

Size and Scale. As we know the largest elements grab attention first, therefore the most important feature/element must be scaled up compared to other elements. For example, if a football and a cricket ball are placed 50 meters from you then the football is more visible, there are also different fonts of different weights and styles which if used properly can enhance design to the next level. From the image given below. We can understand it more clearly.

In the picture given above, the “Katowice Street Art Festival” is one of the most important element for the event to be noticed by the people around. And that’s why it scales bigger compare to other corresponding information for increasing its importance.

Color and tint. Colors are also one of the most important assets in the field of graphic design. The human eye reacts faster to colors than other elements. Brighter colors stand out more than the muted colors. The lighters colors appear more distant than the richer and darker ones, so they appear lower on the hierarchy.

So by the use of proper colors, we can raise the standards raise really high.

Alignment. There must be a sense of order in connecting all the elements in the design. When we see something in proper order it looks more pleasing and more related to the given content. A stiff composition may look stagnant and aesthetically unattractive until one element stands out from the visual grid, i.e., from a feeling of order. Misalignment, sometimes known as “breaking the grid,” is a way to add visual weight to a graphic element. 

Proximity. Proximity is one of the most important principles of clustering and can master competing visual cues such as color or form similarity. The practice of placing related elements close together and separating unrelated elements can be seen almost everywhere in design. Here is one example which perfectly explains proximity.

Whitespace or Negative space. When we talk about whitespace, White space or negative space is an empty space between and around elements of a page. White space is a great tool to balance design elements and better organize content to improve the visual communication experience. Whitespace also gives an area to the element to breathe and stand out of them all. Also, it makes the design look appropriate and clean.

So in the first image, there is more use of whitespace. That’s why it is easy to concentrate your eye on the text. But the text in the second picture looks more shaggy and not properly readable.

Texture and style. Here the texture comes in the game. The use of texture in design creates visual interest and focal point in the composition and also creates contrast within a design composition to help visually balance a design composition. Texture also introduces depth & realism in our design

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This article was written by Navin Bhagat of SKNCOE, for ZeroGravity and edited by Nia Gajbhiye, Editor of ZeroGravity.

The flyer is designed by Navin Bhagat for ZeroGravity.