When designing anything, from a brochure or magazine to a web page it is important to think about the visual hierarchy of the piece. This means thinking about placement, size and color of each component; where everything will be placed, how big and bright each piece of information will be and what should stand out or what should be subtle. In most cases you have content, words and images all competing for space, needing to be organized and incorporated in the layout. It is the job of a designer to negotiate all these pieces and determine where they should be placed to achieve the overall purpose of the piece. This is where hierarchy of design comes into play, meaning the organization and prioritization of all the content as a way to communicate the desired message to the audience.

Conscious decisions need to be made with regard to design as the placement of each piece will strategically influence how the user interacts with the material. It’s important to think about how you want your audience to interact with the piece, where do you want your audience to look first? Is there a call to action you want to draw attention to? What key message do you want to convey? Essentially, hierarchy of design means determining what you want the reader to focus on first, what do you want to catch their eye and then how do you want to guide them through the rest of the piece.

A designer has many tools to alter how a marketing piece or web page is structured and displayed to the audience. Color, typography and spacing can all be used to organize and prioritize content. A title in a bright color or bold font will stand out and grab the reader’s attention over the rest of the article that is in a smaller, plain font. Using these design elements to draw the reader’s attention to the key points will set the viewer on a path. They will know where to start reading and will be lead through the piece, whether it be a print ad, article or website page. If you give importance to too many things, then it will all lose its meaning so they key is to selectively choose the main points and keep them as the central focus. Design elements that you want to draw attention to should be bigger and elements you want to de-emphasize should be smaller. Use color strategically as too much color with lose its meaning or create a chaotic looking product.

Keep in mind the hierarchy of design and organize content in an optimal way to ensure you deliver your desired message to your target audience. Balance and moderation are key to keeping everything cohesive, legible, and accessible.