Visual Hierarchy Principles for Attractive Designs

By Din Studio on November 10, 2022

Visual hierarchy is one of the principles designers need to do to organize various elements for great, impressive results. You have to master this principle prior to finding out what is unique in the design. With this process, it is not impossible for you to create any designs you want.


Visual Hierarchy


Several Visual Hierarchy Principles to Consider

To create a design, you firstly need to know the elements to arrange them altogether and to make your work easier. You can even see the etiquette and the aesthetic aspects.

Note that the design will be shown to a lot of people. Your design should be effective, efficient and able to deliver messages instead of just being a good design.

Reaching such a level is not easy. You need broad experience so that applying the visual hierarchy is significant. Here are brief explanations about it which you need to pay attention to.

Size and Scale

The first point to consider is the size and scale which consists of a lot of main information. Being too small will be confusing to understand the meaning and purposes of the design.

Try to notice that the main information in the newspapers or magazines has a large size and scale. Then, small items are added, which will affect the readers’ attitude in the future.

Colors and Contrasts

In the visual hierarchy principles, aside from the size, you need to consider the colors to ensure that the most important information should protrude more than the other elements.

An easy, common example is the film poster of KKN Desa Penari (Community Service Program at Penari [Dancer] Village). By seeing the poster, people will be able to predict the storylines telling about a snake dancer because the dominant color is black while the others are white.

By seeing a dancer in the biggest picture, people can guess the storylines. That is how the visual hierarchy principle works, which is important to understand.


Never ignore short descriptions to get your messages across and let the audience understand what you want, but be careful about determining the bigger and smaller highlights.

Empty Space

Another visual hierarchy principle is the empty space in a picture. Instead of filling the frame full, try to give a little empty space and let the audience focus on the messages delivered.

Note that the purpose is to make them interested in coming to the store or buying the products sold. The products must be clearly shown. Otherwise, their focus may be distracted.


Visual hierarchy requires you to make everything close to each other. With the empty space, the big, prominent color picture makes the eyes focus more on the object.

This closeness will lead the audience to look at one object only despite the other visible objects. The deceiving picture triggers the audience’s curiosity.

Rule of Third

This visual hierarchy is applied in accordance with the photography rules in which you use straight lines to make all information in the picture equal and to let the audience look at the picture comfortably.

Negative Space

This empty space can actually share important information to the audience. Unfortunately, many designers do not present it clearly. In fact, they only provide little clues which can often be missed. 

Is it alright? Yes, it is. The crucial point is the main picture. When its hidden element is found, the audience will be amazed and the carom effect will happen.

Which means they can come back later to look at it again or even ask others to look at it, too. This is the uniqueness of designers, which unfortunately not many designers make use of.


Alignment in the visual hierarchy is crucial as it reflects the company’s logo of which significant elements are centered in the middle.

The alignment is set to meet the desired demand expressing aesthetics in a picture. Every element looks amazing in the middle as the center of attention.

Rule of Odds

The rule of odds in visual hierarchy is intersupporting which means the main picture cannot stand alone. Therefore, additional items are placed around it to let the audience understand the message.

However, the additional elements and pictures should be in odd numbers instead of even ones, which is fine but many audiences find the odd additional numbers interesting and exotic.


This is a repeated style with different techniques for the size adjustments and the color additions. For instance, trees look better in uneven structures and bright and dark colors.

The colors can be adjusted to real life conditions suggesting that bright color is under direct sunlight while dark color is not. This step will show great visual effects with regard to the main structures.


Similarities between one picture and another should be noticed to figure out the main information. The similarity’s consistency should not be changed to be comfortably seen.

Leading Lines

Leading lines is the next visual hierarchy that photographers have always applied to get powerful pictures, not good ones, to impress the audience with the effects directly.

For example, a film poster highlighting a pocong devil (an Indonesian ghost type in dirty white shroud fully covered to its body except the face with bonds above the head, around the stomach in bended arms and below the feet) is shown alongside other pocong devils at a grave from which illustration expresses how creepy the film is.

This is the merit of the leading lines in which both main and supporting objects are in the same line. This way has implicitly made the picture talk.


The last visual hierarchy is the Perspective or point of view. Make sure to let everyone know everything in the picture. Never hide anything because it makes them reluctant to find out the truth.

A simple example is a table poster. What customers want is a strong, firm, wide table to hold a lot of furniture on it. Therefore, the pattern should be an eagle eye, not a face-to-face angle.

In other words, it is portrayed from above. Then, add some types of furniture from the biggest to the smallest possible to hold on the table. This is the answer to what customers want. On the contrary, customers will not be able to see it clearly from a flat angle.

The prominent information about the table is the strength and capability to hold a lot of furniture. Consequently, try to change perspective to never let people see you from an ordinary point of view.


It will be really possible for you to become a great, high-paid designer if you understand and implement all those visual hierarchy principles well because they have already represented what customers want.