The right words are important when it comes to promoting your brand. But without smart visual treatment, the potential impact of those words can be lost and your message hindered. Conversely, when brilliant copy is showcased in visually strategic ways, your message can soar to new heights. The key (at least a very important one) is establishing visual hierarchy.
Visual hierarchy is the use of visual cues, such as color, typeface, size, and positioning, to convey the relative importance of information in a design. Like punctuation or syntax, hierarchy provides order and helps readers prioritize and comprehend information more quickly and accurately, and ultimately enhances communication. By giving different pieces of information different visual weight and by strategically organizing how you group and position your information, you can elevate and reinforce key points and make your messages more effective, efficient, and engaging.
Related: Join our live design workshop to learn how to design for social media like a pro! Sign up here!
In this post, we’re exploring some of the strategies for establishing visual hierarchy in order to give your message a boost. Click on any of the graphics included in this article to employ the strategies right away and scroll down to learn how to easily adjust color, font, shope, and more with Spark Post‘s new multi-style text editing.
1. Use color to make key info pop.
Creating contrast is at the heart of establishing visual hierarchy. Elements that look the most different from their surroundings demand attention first; therefore, your most important information should be strongly differentiated. This intrigue effect can be created using a number of variables, but one of the most effective (and fun) ways to create contrast is with color. Consider the following example:
The use of color to communicate similarity or continuity is just as important as its use in creating contrast. Take, for instance, this marvel of an advertisement for Bifröst Bridge:
2. Let text size do the the heavy lifting.
Size is another tool in creating contrast and visual weight. Contrasting sizes help convey scale and relative importance. Let’s look at another example:
3. Employ typeface in strategic ways.
The impact of the right (or wrong) font cannot be overestimated. Like color, typography conveys mood and tone, sometimes more powerfully than the copy it delivers. When considering how to utilize it to establish hierarchy, you should think about the desired tone of your words. Some of your copy may be intended as more humorous; some more serious. Know where you have room for expressive flourishes with your typeface, and where you’d like your font to be more neutral. From there, you can explore which typefaces work best together.
4. Add backing shapes to create focal points.
Shape is another important tool in creating visual weight. Adding shapes to your messages can help establish focal points, or signal categories of importance. For example, the are four main levels of information in the menu example below. The first tier in the hierarchy is the restaurant name “Wild Sparks Kitchen” (sounds good!), conveyed by font size and the border that is unique to it. Then we have the price info with the white background, which is also unique. In the tertiary tier, we have the category names “salads,” “pizzettas,” etc. And fourth, the individual dishes.
5. Consider positioning and don’t be afraid to think outside the box.
When we talk about positioning in design, we are talking about where you choose to place your various elements (copy, imagery, shapes) in your frame, and to what effect. These choices encompass alignment and spacing as well as areas, such as top, bottom, center, left right, etc.
It may seem intuitive that more important information should live at the top of a page; this is because we are used to reading top-down, and left-to-right. And it’s true that employing that classic arrangement can be effective and instantly understandable to the reader. But as we’ve seen with the examples above, visual hierarchy is not necessarily so literal (or vertical). The most important question to consider is how your positioning works (or doesn’t work) to establish your most important information as your focal point. In the example below, this is done by positioning your copy so that is acting out the action it describes. Hierarchy is also at work in the color of the text; although the orange on white is not as high contrast as the black on white, its difference makes it an outlier, which alerts readers of its importance.
How to Establish Visual Hierarchy with Spark Post
Giving parts of your message more visual weight is easier than ever with Spark Post’s new multi-style text editing, which allows you to adjust the style of key parts of your message with just a few taps.
Employ these design strategies and Spark’s multi-style text editing in your next design—don’t forget to share them with #adobespark. We love to re-share great design!
Header Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash