How to utilize dominance to create a focal point in your layout

In the ever-evolving world of web design, the quest to capture and retain users’ attention is a constant challenge.

With countless websites vying for attention, it is crucial to create a visual hierarchy that guides users and directs their focus to key elements.

One powerful technique for achieving this is through the use of dominance, which involves strategically emphasizing specific elements to create a focal point on a web page.

Understanding dominance

Dominance, in the context of design, refers to different degrees of emphasis in your design elements, and the visual prominence or significance of an element on a web page. It involves making certain elements stand out, while others recede into the background. By establishing a clear hierarchy of importance, designers can effectively guide users’ attention and communicate the intended message.

In the absence of dominance

When layouts lack dominance, they tend to compete for attention, causing confusion for the viewer.

For example, if two red circles of equal size are present in a design, it becomes uncertain which one should be looked at first. Your audience may focus the different circles or continuously switch between them. However, if one circle is clearly dominant, it directs the user’s gaze to that specific element.

In the absence of a dominant element, viewers have to invest effort in finding their own entry point into the design. This can be a challenging task, and if it requires too much cognitive effort, users may opt to move on to another website.

Remember, the principle of “Don’t make me think” suggests that it should be easy for users to navigate and understand your design.

How to create dominance in your layouts

Establishing dominance can greatly enhance the impact of your visual compositions. While it is generally true that elements with greater visual weight tend to be more dominant, there are exceptions to this rule.

Sometimes, the dominant element is the one that exerts the most control over its immediate surroundings. For example, an object surrounded by whitespace can easily assert dominance within its local environment.

Overall, it holds true that elements with more visual weight possess greater dominance:

  • Size: Larger elements naturally carry more weight, making them more dominant.
  • Color: Although the reasons are not fully understood, certain colors are perceived as heavier than others. Red tends to have the heaviest visual weight, while yellow appears lighter.
  • Density: Packing more elements into a given space increases the weight and dominance of that particular area.
  • Value: Darker objects have more visual weight and consequently command greater dominance compared to lighter objects.
  • Whitespace: Positive space, or whitespace, holds more weight than negative space. Utilizing whitespace strategically can enhance the dominance of elements within your design.
The 3 Sage core pillars of values and conduct

Simplicity, Sincerity, and Success

Learn more about the design and branding services I offer