Visual Communication — Part 8

The Laws of Visual Gravity

John CounselBy John Counsel — The Marketing Doctor

Once you’ve grabbed your visitor’s attention with your headline, the layout and typography take over the task of guiding them through your page with optimum ease and impact.

But only if you comply with the Laws of Visual Gravity.

In Western cultures, people read from the top left to the bottom right of a page. The same principle should apply to eye travel through your web pages.

The eye naturally falls in the Primary Optical Area (POA) and leaves the page at the lower right – the Terminal Area (TA).

In this Gutenburg diagram (left), crosses (X) indicate “dead” corners, while the wavy lines represent directions that the visitor’s eye will resist due to lifelong conditioning.

A good layout always has a clear focal point that attracts the eye of the visitor. Ideally, this should be your headline/page heading or a photo showing the benefits to be enjoyed or your message in practical use.

Or that catches the visitor’s curiosity in some legitimate way. There’s no point trying to trick visitors into reading your message without real reason. You risk creating hostility toward you and your product or service or ideas.

The optimum number of visual elements in a page is five (5). These elements can be things like the headline, photos or diagrams, your body text, your logo, etc. Make absolutely certain that these elements support each other – not fight each other for the visitor’s attention.

Layouts that comply with the Laws of Visual Gravity scored 73% in comprehension tests. In this sample layout of a brochure, the Laws of Visual Gravity apply, with the headline in the Primary Optical Area and the logo, name and address in the Terminal Area. Photos are located in the “dead” corners, where the eye tends not to read.

Turn the layout upside down and you see the exact opposite… and you invert the comprehension score, which tested at only 37%!

Check your web page layouts to ensure that they comply with these simple, common sense guidelines. And remember… “rules are made for the guidance of the wise, and the blind obedience of fools.” You can bend them from time to time, but break them and you risk driving your visitors away.

Next… Choose Your Type Faces with Care!  

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