How To Design Visual Content

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Humans are highly visual beings and often our judgment is based off what we see rather than what we touch, hear, smell, or taste. For marketers, it is imperative that content is visually appealing so that your audience engages with your material. Fortunately, there is some science behind the art of designing content to captivate audiences. Check out the following suggestions for a outline of how to make your content a visual paradise.

color psychology
Color Psychology screen capture from Nowsourcing

Rule of Thumb: Create Visual Hierarchy

The most appealing visual content makes use of a design principle called visual hierarchy. Take a look at the following image:

The image on the right makes use of visual hierarchy by breaking content into different segments and creating a hierarchy of what readers should look at. When a reader looks at the image on the right, they immediately notice the top headline and the picture that is featured on the right. They can then easily scan the subtitles to get a stronger idea of the overall message. Based off these visual cues, the reader will then decide whether they want to continue reading.

The content on the left does not make use of visual hierarchy and makes it difficult for readers to extract the main message. While the layout in the image on the right is inviting, easy to understand, and highly visual, the image on the left is much more daunting as it requires readers to sift through the entire piece; consequently, most readers will likely leave the page on first glance.

Visual hierarchies create points of interest for readers and therefore make content more visual and inviting. Creating aesthetically pleasing material for your readers should be a primary goal of your content section!

Colour Your Content

In addition to using visual hierarchies to strengthen content design, colours also play an important role in a reader’s interaction with your material. Strong content does not rely on colour but uses colour to enhance design elements. Colour should be used to accentuate and grab your audience’s attention but captivating designs should be effective even when viewed in grayscale. Ultimately, the most important elements of good design are the concept and theme; but once those are established, colour is the next ingredient for making your content pop.

You should use enough colour to create contrast but avoid using too many as this can be overwhelming for your reader. Generally, using a maximum of 5 complementing colours is enough to offer visually appealing content. Also consider planning your colour theme upfront and then be consistent with the colours and shades you use across all your content. This consistency will also create familiarity between your different pieces and can help reinforce your brand.

Here’s a brief explanation of the psychology associated with different colours. Remember that colour is highly subjective so use these as general guidelines.

Warm Colours – red, orange, yellow

  • Colours of fire – radiates warmth
  • Associated with passion, energy, impulsiveness, happiness, coziness, and comfort
  • Draws attention and seen as being inviting and harmonious

Cool Colours – green, blue, violet

  • Colours of water
  • Associated with calm, trust, and professionalism
  • Also associated with sadness and melancholy
  • Can be perceived as a cold colour which may turn people away

Highly Saturated Colours

  • Perceived as dynamic
  • Attracts attention
  • Too many saturated colours can compete and be overwhelming

Dark Colours

  • Darker hues are seen first
  • Should be complemented with lighter colours to balance visual weight

If you haven’t already, consider developing a style and branding guideline that will keep your brand unified and consistent across different mediums and content. Here is an example of a great style and brand guideline by Luvata, a Finnish company that’s a world leader in the copper industry.

Also check out this infographic for more info on colour psychology!

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