Are All Your Ducks in a Row?

related elements to create a focal point of interest. Meaning, what is the first thing you want your viewers to see? This is important because we want the readers to be cued as to what to read first, second, third and so on. A design with too many elements will distract and detract from your message.

Let’s take business cards for example. We want to aim for three levels of text. The first being the most prominent bit of information (such as your name), the second being critical navigation of importance (such as your career title) and lastly comes everything else (such as contact information, website url, etc.). Now that you have more of an image in you mind about where I am going with the importance of this topic, let’s dig in! Here is a short list of the top six most important elements to creating visual hierarchy:

  1. Scale:
    Size is an effective tool for guiding your viewer’s eye to a specific element. A larger object tends to attract more attention than a smaller one due to their size. Our minds associate size with importance. With that being said, the largest elements of each design should be the most important element and the smallest should be the least important, just as we discussed with the business card example above.

  2. Colour:
    Colour is just like size. It is another visual organizational tool used to draw attention to a certain portion or element of your design. Colour can sway thinking, change actions and even cause reaction. It can irritate or soothe, raise your blood pressure of even suppress your appetite. Our minds tend to be more attracted to bold and contrasting bursts of colour. For more detail on why colour is so important when you’re wanting to make an impact with your viewer’s, please see one of my archived posts “Does Colour Really Matter?” here …

  3. Space:
    All space is space in which we create. Yet “negative space” (the space surrounding an object) is more magical. People tend to think they will get more “bang for their buck” if they use up every single last bit of space within their design. This is never the case. This emptiness of space is just as important as the object it’s encompassing. The negative space helps to define the boundaries and brings balance to the design. Also, the proximity used to separate certain elements is the quickest way to relate or distinguish elements within groups or association.

  4. Contrast:
    Our attention is grabbed by dramatic shifts in size and colour. Our minds get signalled that something is different. In good design, you want to make a specific element of importance stand out and draw attention to the viewer’s eye. Emphasis can be achieved by placing elements on your design in positions where the eye is naturally drawn or by using other principles such as repetition, movement or contrast (changing colours from bright yellow to royal blue or going bold with a plain styled font).

  5. Alignment:
    Creating order between your elements of design is often created through alignment. This guides your viewer’s eye around your design by allowing them to subconsciously follow lines. In this case, think of your design as a page, poster or even the way columns and grids are used within a website. There is subconscious order to every placement.

  6. Balance:
    Everything has a visual weight to it. It is human nature for people to like balance for the stability and structure that it provides. If you are not able to accomplish a sense of balance within your design then the viewer won’t know where to look and what you are trying to communicate. This then causes confusion and in most cases the viewer will move on. And that is the last thing you want to happen. So above all, ensure you have balance (different elements are equal or in correct proportion) within your design.


If after reading this you are still uncertain if you are doing things right or what to do in cases where you want to be your own design guru, feel free to reach out and touch base. I’d love to hear from you.

Lastly, for this Monday of the September long weekend … I want to like to leave you with a quote. To make your mind wander about what you just read. To dig deep into the importance of the topic. So, with that being said, enjoy today’s quote from Zahid Sardar, Design Editor of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Good design has to tell a story. It has to stop people, and it has to make them wonder. Good design is a conversation.

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Picture of Crystal Kordalchuk

Crystal Kordalchuk

Crystal is an artist, a writer, an organizer, a dreamer, a doer, and down-right proud of it NERD!.

Struck with a love for #AllThings creative at a very young age, Crystal dreamed of a life fueled by her passion for creating and bringing the stories and images in her mind into reality.

As she worked toward her dreams, she earned a diploma as a Computer Applications Specialist then another in Graphic Design and from there began to develop her extensive background in multimedia and the arts. She began her worked in the magazine industry as a layout designer and had a succession of design jobs thereafter. It was her role as a graphic/web designer that gave her the first real glimpse of her future. Soon she began a side job as a freelance designer while keeping one foot in the corporate world. A spark was lit! She turned her freelance gig into a full-time business combining design work with her other passion: creating organization from virtual chaos.

Crystal is one of the most organized individuals on the planet. She is by all means a Zen master of her crafts. She excels at helping others become “untangled” and provides her clients with tools to run their businesses smoothly while she takes care of the details behind the scenes. Thus Virtually Untangled was born. A successful business where her work as a top notch creative in graphic and web — with a twist of virtual assistant — married into one amazing place where clients can come with their virtual messes and become magically untangled. Crystal can always make sense of even the most unorganized chaos and offers a virtual detox of order and peace, so her clients can get busy doing the work that they love the most.

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