Visual hierarchy has a huge impact on the user’s experience. It doesn’t just affect the first impression of the product, but also how users make sense of it and enjoy its benefits. Most designers are fairly familiar with the need to organize visual stimuli, or risk tired, confused and overwhelmed users.
What is visual hierarchy?
Having a visual hierarchy to the components of your design serves more than one purpose. It helps the user understand how important one element is in relation to another, or where the user should start reading. It helps with understanding the product, and is crucial for good UX – users need to understand what each element is, and that includes its importance within the design.
With a good visual hierarchy to the design, you can expect users to have an easier time digesting information. Instead of having a screen with many identical components, users will have focal points and an order in which to notice and process things.
Visual hierarchy design is all about giving elements a certain hierarchy using several visual cues. The designer can use these visuals in order to create a flow to the screen, so the eye of the user can follow that flow towards the most important parts of the screen.
Visual hierarchy tools
1.Size and scale
The first and most commonly used way to convey importance is size. This is the easiest way to encourage users to start reading at a certain point, as we tend to read the bigger font first and then move on. The important thing to remember when playing with size is scale – the relationship between sizes of different components.
In a nutshell, bright colors stand out from muted colors. This may seem obvious, but the important takeaway is its application: you can exploit this to draw your user’s attention where you want. Additionally, certain colors can help set the mood of the entire site (blues are tranquil, reds are aggressive, etc.).
It’s interesting to use different typefaces in order to add contrast. Many designers tend to select one serif and one sans serif typeface for the same page, so that there is a palpable difference between the font. Here is the trick, however: even with big differences, the font should follow the same shape.
Another way to add contrast to the typography is the weight. The weight of the typeface can immediately create contrast and establish hierarchy. Pairing thin and heavy, bold typography is a quick way to create a visual hierarchy.
One of the most important tricks in making something pretty is the absolute absence of something pretty. Cluttering too many attractive images together is a quick way to ruin them all. It’s important that your web interface has breathing room and that you space everything out. Reducing the amount of “visual noise” will make the points you want to keep even stronger.
Since people naturally tend to perceive the proximity of UI components as groups, designers often use proximity as a tool to divide the website page contents. Hence, in your design, you are also suggested to closely place logically related UI components in the same place for better readability and clearer layouts.
Repetition helps in creating a unity which boosts understanding and recognition. Style repetition provides consistency across the website which leads to a unified web design. Repetition of some elements like fonts, colors, shapes or sizes throughout the entire composition clearly defines the visual hierarchy of any design. At times repetition is used to give elements a new meaning altogether. Like when you see blue underlined text stand out on a page you instantly recognize the font as a hyperlink. Repeating this style in a design tells your audience where to click for more info.
Visual hierarchy is something that all users will depend on to make sense of what they see. Designers everywhere are constantly finding new ways to play with the visual elements at their disposal for products in order to convey a specific message to users. When it comes to visual design, it’s all about putting creativity to work, and keeping usability in mind.