Key Principles of Visual Hierarchy in Web Design

What is Visual Hierarchy and why is it important in web design?

Visual Hierarchy is a term used to describe an organization of elements on the web page, by their importance. The main goal is to prioritize visually and to direct your user’s attention to the desired objects. 

Whenever users open your page, they will immediately have several questions that you are expected to answer:

  • Does this page have what I look for?

  • Where is it?

  • How do I get it?

With the help of visual hierarchy you can organize everything on the page to create a sense of order.

You can also promote specific content, encourage your visitors to click on call-to-actions, and improve overall user experience. All of which will undeniably increase your conversions.

How do you create visual hierarchy on the page?

Gestalt principles

Most rules of visual hierarchy in web design come from the Gestalt principles. This psychological theory explains how people perceive design elements. 

The basic idea is that the human eye sees objects altogether before perceiving their separate parts. There are several principles in gestalt theory like closure, similarity, proximity, and more.

The most important take out from Gestalt principles, is that you have to organize your page as a whole, and not in separate pieces.

This does not mean you should not pay attention to details. Just keep in mind that even if you have the most attractive CTA, but your whole page is a mess and does not have a well established visual hierarchy, you probably will not get a lot of clicks and conversions.

Size contrast and Fitts’s law

Visual hierarchy can be easily achieved with contrast, specifically size contrast. Fitts’s law proves that users will interact more with larger objects on the page because they will be on the top of the visual hierarchy.

  • One of the principles of Fitts’s Law is that it is easier to engage with larger objects (specifically clickable range). In other words, it takes less effort and time for a user to click on larger items. This is particularly true for calls-to-action, as you do not want your users to question where they should go.

Vinted is an online marketplace and community that allows its users to sell, buy, and swap secondhand clothing items and accessories. Their lading page uses size contrast to deliver its audience a straightforward question.

Vinted landing page
Vinted landing page with Attention Insight heatmap

As you can see, users’ attention divides between the main visual on the right and the key message on the left. There you can also spot the main CTA. It is hard not to notice the main CTA even if it attracts 2% of initial attention due to the size of the main message. Furthermore, according to Gestalt principles, the CTA is a continuation of the key message which attracts most of the attention. 

By now, you can see that larger objects receive more attention on the page than smaller ones. However, bigger is not always better. By making your CTA button ten times bigger, you will not immediately get more conversions. The sizes of the elements need to correspond with each other and create harmony on your page.

The Golden Ratio and web design

The Golden Ratio is a mathematical ratio that roughly equals to 1.6180. It can be commonly found in nature and used in classical design theory to create balanced compositions.

You can also apply the Golden Ratio to web design. Easily grab attention with more structurally dynamic layouts. The most interesting case is the Twitter layout.

Attention Insight twitter page with golden ration graph
  • Doug Bowman, Twitter’s creative director, commented on the new layout: “To anyone curious about #NewTwitter column proportions, know that we didn’t leave those ratios to chance”.

Following the golden ratio is probably the easiest and most certain way to establish a visual hierarchy on your page.

Hick’s law and white space

One of the principles of Hick’s Law applies to web design. It says that when we increase the number of choices, the time required to make a decision increases as well. In addition to that, the more choices you have, the easier it is to choose nothing. 

Simply put, by understanding Hick’s law, you can arrange your page with enough white space and avoid creating cognitive overload. It will decrease the time your users will have to spend on figuring out your website, direct them straight to your CTA, and therefore increase conversions.

apple landing
apple landing with Attention Insight heatmap that shows visual hierarchy

There is no better example in the market than Apple that has mastered the art of branding and minimalist web design. A brief headline and subhead that convey the brand goals and a sleek product photo is a signature landing page by Apple.


Visual hierarchy is a valuable tool in creating your webpage. It improves user experience, helps to establish clear navigation, and allows certain elements to dominate on your page for your advantage.

You can give your page classical golden ratio proportions, or increase the size of your clickable objects to make them more noticeable. You can have a minimalistic design with lots of white space to make it simple but clear, or use gestalt principles to navigate your visitors. Finally, you can do all of the above. 

No matter what trick you will use to create a visual hierarchy, always remember to keep it well balanced and avoid confusion. You want to guide your users’ attention, and visual hierarchy is here to help you achieve that goal.

How to Create the Best Web Design Visual Hierarchy


Only some people can create attractive web designs. It necessitates experiences as well as modern visuals. The web designer is expected to understand the elements to create the best website possible. You also need to understand the visual hierarchy of web design.

You have to make a good combination of functionality and visual appeal. A good design will enhance the user’s experience while using the website. You must provide an amazing aesthetic that allows the user to interact. However, that is the notion of a web design visual hierarchy.


Understanding the Types of Attractive Web Design Visual Hierarchy


First, you need to understand the principles of B2B web design. This kind of web design can persuade people to buy products or use services. So you have to know the target and what kind of visuals they like.


Learn about the skim technique.


Almost all readers or prospective buyers have the habit of speed-reading information. They dislike reading the same article on the website repeatedly. That is why you have to create simple information on the website. Only provide important information and convey it in a language that people can easily understand.


Users are increasingly interested in an attractive web interface.


Every good web design provides an engaging, interactive experience for visitors. Interesting interactions will leave a positive impression on the minds of visitors. This impression is given by visitors just a few seconds after they come to the website. The biggest problem is making the website have a high loading speed. Almost all interactive websites are large in size, so programmers or developers must work hard to make them as light as possible in order to reduce loading times. 


Why Is Visual Hierarchy Web Design Necessary?


Everyone has a different educational background, so not everyone understands how to be a good graphic designer. But you don’t have to give up anything to create an attractive website for your business. At least you can learn about the importance of visual hierarchy web design and how to make it.

You can tell the difference between amazing and absurd web design. Your awesome website can persuade users so that they want to buy your product. It’s not easy to get other people interested in using our products, and there are thousands of similar websites on the internet. However, it is something worth trying.


Understanding Visual Hierarchy As A Modern Design


Most modern web designs have a tendency to use bright images. It considers the size and scale of any images and text. For example, you create the headlines by using the biggest text and an image with good quality. You should have an attractive and interactive element, especially the call to the action part. Bring some supporting content with a smaller size.

You can use bold colors rather than soft ones so that it will stand out more. I applied the bold color to the important text and images. This is a very effective way to persuade readers. You can also use bold or bright colors to make buttons to check out the product.

The last thing about visual hierarchy web design is that you can use leading lines to improve your interactive design. You can add linear elements that guide the user toward the purpose.


You Should Be Aware of the Different Types of Website Information Hierarchy


The internet cannot be separated from a website. Users may obtain precious information from websites. But the number of websites spread across the internet is in the millions. Web owners must be good at designing their sites to be as attractive as possible. The attractive web makes it easier to persuade users to read again and again.

 The users can boost the traffic so that web owners will get lots of ads too. To create an appealing website, you must first understand the website’s information hierarchy. You can leverage this knowledge to get users the information they need. You shouldn’t make users feel like it’s a waste of time to open your website. Time is money for everyone.


The Types of Website Information Hierarchy


 We will immediately discuss the core part of the term “website information hierarchy.” You can read the types of website information hierarchy listed below.


  1. Hierarchical website structure


 This type of information is easily accessible on the internet. Users can get information because it’s in the simplest form. There are home pages, popular pages, subpages, etc. Internal linking is also available. Users may have experienced similar to reading a book from one chapter to the next. The website owner only needs to fill in each page based on the information the user needs.


  1. Linear Website Information Hierarchy


Not all types of websites can use a linear website information hierarchy. Only websites that provide certain businesses can apply because the number of pages is small. The structure of a linear structure can be described in Pages 1, 2, and 3, among others. The number of linearly structured web pages seldom reaches more than ten pages.


What is Web Design Visual Hierarchy? Follow These Tips


Web developers or business people must know about the visual hierarchy in web design. Websites that have an excellent visual hierarchy have an easy tendency to attract the attention of potential buyers. You have to indulge the user’s eye so that they are interested in buying the product or using the service.

It is hard and requires a lot of creativity to create an attractive web design that is different from the others. You have to consider all elements on the website. Regardless, you can follow the F-pattern for the top content of a website. A study confirms that people read information on the internet using the F-pattern.


The Other Elements to Attract Users


Do you want to know the answer to what is web design visual hierarchy? You understand the F-pattern for the content. Anyway, you may include a good interactive image in the content. It’s called a hero image. A good image can be the hero of a high-traffic website. You should apply a clear image to support the web display. Just learn about the high quality of the picture, such as high contrast, soft color, etc.

Apart from using a high-quality image, you can also pay attention to other elements, such as size, whitespace, texture, color, and style. We know that the 1990s era is known as the era of web design chaos. You can see unmatched colors on those websites. Anyway, unmatched colors, sizes, etc., can have a bad effect on the user. They tend to close the website more quickly due to not being able to stand seeing websites that are not looking good.

So from now on, you can learn about web design that has the potential to attract many users. Simply search the internet, and you will be able to quickly find interesting interactive websites. Learn about the size of the writing, the type of writing, and what elements make the website interesting. That’s all to answer how and what is web design visual hierarchy.

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