Emphasis in Design – Part 3 – Graphic Elements

- September 5, 2008

I once heard a great oil painter say, “Unity with variety makes great pictures.” My first thought was, “How on earth can you have unity with variety? It seems like a contradiction.” From then on, I started really looking at the world around me, I began to see what he was talking about.

For example, in nature, a row of trees look similar, but still have variety in the branches, leaves and sizes. Clouds on a beautiful day will be off-white against a blue sky, but will have variety in sizes, shapes and distances. Consider the human face, we are used to seeing 2 eyes, 1 nose and 1 mouth, but there are differences that make us distinctly unique.

Lets take a closer look at this concept in a graphic example. Below we have 3 content boxes which represent areas which could possibly link to sections of a website. First of all, notice the similarities of these simple and uninspired boxes. We don’t know what to look at first and may not even be compelled to read the text at all. The boxes have the same shape, fonts, colors, and format. Boring.


Below are the new graphics which have been spiced up a bit with variations in color, font sizes and distances, but still have unity of shape, fonts and effects. We clearly know what to look at first, starting with the orange box labeled “1”. This is the main emphasis of the group. Then, we proceed to look at “2” and “3”.


Another thing to keep in mind when using graphic elements is unity with your website. Notice how I didn’t randomly choose orange, teal, and gray as my new box colors, I picked them because they are specific to the MoreVisibility website and will therefore strengthen branding.

Until next time, look at the world around you and be inspired by the beauty and wonder nature has to offer.

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