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From the aspect of catching the eye, typography, logos or imagery that are sized larger naturally become a focal point.
From the aspect of catching the eye, typography, logos or imagery that are sized larger naturally become a focal point.

How to create attention-grabbing content using visual hierarchy

What separates the best from the rest when it comes to marketing? SIMON DELL explains the five key principles of visual hierarchy.

Have you ever played one of those games where you have to guess the name of a brand based on the logo, with the twist being that you’re purely looking at the visual design aspect of the brand without any words or text?

So, how’d you go?  Were the visual elements of each image enough for you to ascertain the brand that they belong to?

This is an example of visual hierarchy; the arrangement of graphic design elements with each element having a unique order of importance.

“In today’s digital world we have little time in advertising to make an impact and get our message across. In fact, research has shown that brands have about eight seconds to capture the attention of the audience.”

The weight of each visual element defines its importance in a design’s hierarchy, thereby visually communicating to the audience on what to focus and the order in which to perceive information.

When you’re able to identify McDonalds fries based on the red and yellow fry carton, or any Coca Cola product because on the cherry red can with white ribbon spacing, the owners of these brands are clapping their hands in delight successful the goals of their visual hierarchy have been achieved.

The great thing about visual hierarchy is that it can apply to different facets of marketing - whether it is branding, packaging or content. The most difficult of the three, from an execution standpoint, however, is content.

In today’s digital world brands have little time in advertising to make an impact and get a message across. In fact, research has shown that brands have about eight seconds to capture the attention of the audience. Therefore, implementing a brilliant content structure that is visually appealing is the surest way to grab the attention of your readers! How can you create content where its visual elements will engage with your audience?

By mastering the five key principles of visual hierarchy.

Size matters

When it comes to visually attractive content, bigger is better!

Content sizing is what helps guide the human eye around a landing page, giving readers a clear path to what aspects of your content should to be read first and providing them with an understanding of the message you are trying to deliver.

From the aspect of catching the eye, typography, logos or imagery that are sized larger naturally become a focal point.

Cadbury is one company that uses huge, funky typefaces to not only capture your attention but also direct your eyes towards the bottom of the page where the advertisement’s final message lies.

Colour

Just like that cherry red Ferrari that you see whizzing past you on the highway, bright colours stand out, command attention, and make a lasting impact. Colour also plays a role in the psychology of a buyer by tapping into emotions and compelling people to make a purchase. 

Take Tiffany & Co for example; its advertisements meticulously combine brand identification with images that highlight magnificent gold and silver products on contrasting backgrounds. Be sure to include colour cleverly in your content design principles.

Spacing

Have you ever noticed how hard it is to find your car keys amongst a table full of clutter and other oddities? The same applies for content. Too often we seen content pieces inundated with text-heavy information and visuals that make it impossible to understand what the message is.

That’s why it’s important to give your page layout some breathing by focusing on negative space and space utilisation.

For example, visit the website of healthcare brand Quip. This funky alternative to flossing might look a little strange at first but Quip has cleverly used space to separate the product from its header and subheadings, giving viewers a clear idea of what is on offer.

Alignment

Align your content so that it can be processed effectively. Don’t be afraid to go against the status quo, especially if it aligns with your brand identity.

Consider scanning patterns and reading patterns, in particular Z patterns and F patterns. Always remember the rule of thirds and consider using heat maps when aligning your web design content.

Contrast

The final principle to consider for creating visually attractive content is contrast. Contrast can be an exceptionally fun tool to utilise when incorporating visual hierarchy into your digital marketing content piece.

Things such as fonts, colours, sizes, and textures all solidify the message that you’re trying to get across to your readers.

Remember that in a world where shoppers are only allowing you eight seconds of their time to impress, effectively designing your content piece with the visual hierarchy in mind can drastically improve your chances of being noticed and creating a lasting user experience.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Simon Dell

Contributor • CEO of Cemoh


Simon Dell is co-founder and CEO of Cemoh, a Brisbane-based firm that provides marketing staff on demand. He specialises in digital marketing and brand management. Visit: cemoh.com

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