Best Practices for Visual Hierarchy in Web Design: Guiding Users' Attention

Subscribe to my newsletter
By subscribing you agree to with our Privacy Policy.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Share
LinkedIn Sharing
X Sharing
Facebook Sharing

Your website competes with millions of others for precious user attention, you'll need a secret weapon to stand out. Welcome to the world of visual hierarchy! Imagine your web page as a beautifully organised buffet; your goal is to make your users want the best bits first, and then savour the rest. Here are a few tips to help you improve the structure of your website!

Prioritise Your Content

Think of your website as a storybook. What's the first thing you want your readers (or in this case, users) to see? That's your headline. It's the catchy title on the book's cover that makes people want to open it. Make it bold, captivating, and easy to spot. Remember, users usually read in an 'F' or 'Z' pattern on a webpage. Place your most important content, like a killer headline, near the top and left, and let it be the star of the show.

An example of a primary button and a tertiary button
A bit 'on the nose' but an example nonetheless. Use primary buttons for your key user task.

Size Matters

Yes, in web design, size does matter. Larger elements naturally draw attention. Your primary call-to-action (CTA), like a "Buy Now" button or a "Sign Up" link, should be big, beautiful, and impossible to ignore.

But don't go overboard – balance is key. Create a size hierarchy so that your CTA stands out, but other important elements like headings and subheadings are clearly visible too.

Play with Colours

Colours are like the spices in your web design kitchen. Strategic use of colour can lead the user's eye where you want it to go. Use contrasting colors for your CTA buttons or important information, and softer hues for secondary elements. For example, if your website's theme is mostly monochrome, a splash of vibrant colour can work wonders.

An example image showing hierarchy from H1 to H6 font sizes
Typographic hierarchy example

The Importance of Typography

Fonts are not just letters; they are personalities. Select fonts that align with your brand and create a consistent hierarchy using different font sizes, styles, and weights. The headline might be bold and daring, while body text should be easy on the eyes. And remember, never use too many fonts – it's like trying to speak ten languages at once.

White Space is Your Friend

In a visually cluttered world, white space is a true friend. It gives your content room to breathe and helps guide the user's eye. Surround important elements with generous white space to make them pop. It's like framing a masterpiece. Don't be afraid to give important elements on your site lots of breathing room!

Visual Cues

Think of visual cues as little signposts on your webpage. Use arrows, images, or lines to direct users' attention toward specific elements. It's like guiding someone through a maze with a trail of breadcrumbs.

Responsive Design

It's easy to forget how varied the internet is! It's essential to ensure that your visual hierarchy works on all screen sizes. What looks fantastic on a desktop might be a mess on a smartphone. Test your design on various devices to make sure it looks great everywhere. It's worth double-checking those big headings that look fantastic on desktop, those may not be so appealing on mobile if they break the site!

User Testing

User testing is your secret weapon in the quest for the perfect visual hierarchy. Get real people to visit your site and provide feedback. They'll reveal what works and what doesn't, helping you fine-tune your design.

Stay Consistent

Consistency is the glue that holds your visual hierarchy together. Keep your design elements, such as buttons and headings, consistent throughout your site. Users shouldn't have to relearn your website's language as they navigate.

An example website section with too much text
Don't overdo it! Keep your text to a minimum on pages that aren't key! Less is more.

Less is More

Sometimes, the best way to guide attention is by simplifying your design. Fewer elements, cleverly arranged, can be more effective in catching the user's eye. Don't overwhelm your users with too much information; leave some room for curiosity.

Remember, web design is an evolving art, and there's always room for improvement. Be open to experimenting, and don't be afraid to take inspiration from websites you admire. Keep these best practices in mind, and you'll be well on your way to creating web experiences that dazzle and delight your users. If you need a hand with your website, don't be afraid to get in touch!

Testimonials

"You’re SO knowledgable (even more so than the actual Shopify employees!), and you had a fix for absolutely everything I raised with you! You also recognised my stress and urgency with the issues our site was experiencing and worked on the issues right away. I appreciate everything you’ve done for me, and I look forward to working with you in future."

Ruby Price

Founder, Dough.je

"Tom has done an amazing job on our new site. Super creative, quick and amazing service, couldn’t recommend enough if you’re looking for a web designer"

Lyndsey Soar

Business Manager, Amicus Limited

"Thank you Tom Declat for a fabulous new website. I really appreciate how responsive, supportive and helpful you were, and I am delighted with the finished product!"

Penny Henderson

Founder, Active Chiropractic

“Working with Tom has been an outstanding experience. From day 1, he quickly grasped our vision, understanding every brief and assignment exactly as envisioned. The quality of his work is spotless, the style and creativity applied in his work really shows in the end results”

Ben Symonds

Founder, The Summit

"You’re SO knowledgable (even more so than the actual Shopify employees!), and you had a fix for absolutely everything I raised with you! You also recognised my stress and urgency with the issues our site was experiencing and worked on the issues right away. I appreciate everything you’ve done for me, and I look forward to working with you in future."

Ruby Price

Founder, Dough.je

"Tom has done an amazing job on our new site. Super creative, quick and amazing service, couldn’t recommend enough if you’re looking for a web designer"

Lyndsey Soar

Business Manager, Amicus Limited

"Thank you Tom Declat for a fabulous new website. I really appreciate how responsive, supportive and helpful you were, and I am delighted with the finished product!"

Penny Henderson

Founder, Active Chiropractic

“Working with Tom has been an outstanding experience. From day 1, he quickly grasped our vision, understanding every brief and assignment exactly as envisioned. The quality of his work is spotless, the style and creativity applied in his work really shows in the end results”

Ben Symonds

Founder, The Summit

Have a project in mind?

Send some details about your project to contact@tomdeclat.com

I can help designing a website, designing a new product, improving an existing part of your product, building a strong design system, building websites in Webflow.