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12 Essential Visual Hierarchy Principles Even Non-Designers Should Know [Infographic]

By Marcella Jalbert

12 Essential Visual Hierarchy Principles Even Non-Designers Should Know [Infographic]

One of the most common things I hear from clients again and again is “Well, I’m not a designer, so I don’t know.”

To which I reply, “You may not be trained as a designer but you have an opinion on design whether you like it or not.”

One of the things that has always fascinated me about design, is that it is literally everywhere, all the time.

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Most people don’t stop to think about who designed something or why it was designed the way that it was because they seem so simple. However, in all honesty, that is how good design is supposed to feel.

Good design should be a seamless, smooth, natural experience.

Without even knowing it, you are immersed in a world of design every day. It is actually impossible that you don’t have an opinion on it.

Whether you are able to articulate your feelings in design terms or articulate them at all is a different story.

The good news? Though it may be a little daunting learning some design terms is easy and will help you communicate what’s up in that beautiful, big brain of yours. I promise.

Learning some of these terms will not only help you communicate with your designer, but will also help you understand some of the choices your designer makes as well.

This post from Visme does a great job of summing up some principles of visual hierarchy which I can assure you will be valuable in discussing the design of your website.

Not only is their infographic a quick reference guide of design terms, but they’ve also included an 8-minute video (which I’ll embed below) that helps break down some of these terms in easy to understand examples.



The infographic below will give you a visual example of all 12 but here are a few standouts that I find are most important for “non-designers” to understand:

Size and Scale: By using shapes and images of varying size and contrast, we can guide our user’s eye to be able to digest content easier, experience a page in a particular order, and find  important elements like a “Get a Free Demo”call-to-action. Larger objects will hold more visual weight and important, while smaller objects become secondary and less important.  

Color and Contrast: This principle actually serves a very similar purpose to size and scale. It helps us to draw out the more important items and a page and dictate what is of secondary information.

One trick I almost always implement on my sites is to create a color-coded user journey. This means selecting one specific color (typically in the yellow, orange, or red families since science tells us these colors create urgency) to be tied to all things bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU). This could mean a button, link, header, or image that I want to draw my user to and have them take action one.

The other colors you use should contrast your BOFU color so it always draws the users eye. (Don’t know how to contrast colors? Christine will help you brush up on you color theory here.)

Typographic Hierarchy: The idea of typographic hierarchy is to create levels of importance through your content through the use of font weights, sizes, and colors. The simplest demonstration of font hierarchy is good old-fashioned bolding. The reason we bold things in our writing is to make them stand out more or create more emphasis.

Same goes for type handling when we increase font sizes or font weight it is to increase the importance of that content.

Leading Lines: These can be used in subtle or ways like a background pattern with angles lines urging the user down the page, or more direct ways like and arrow pointed at a CTA. Either is an efficient tactic that should not be overlooked.

To see visual examples of these principles (and more) check out the full infographic and video from Visme below.


Created using Visme. An easy-to-use Infographic Maker.

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Web Design
Published on March 16, 2019

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