How to Create a Text Hierarchy and Visual Elements to Tell One Story

It’s a way of grouping items in such a way that they appear as if they’re “above,” “below,” or “at the same level.”

Creating something beautiful isn’t the only goal of design. It’s about making something useful. Putting something together that the user can easily consume and understand. Hierarchy plays a huge role in that. Hierarchy, from the Greek word hierarchy or ‘rule of the high priest’, is an arrangement of items or elements in which the items are represented as “above,” “below,” or “on the same level.”

This concept is applied in design by arranging or presenting elements in a way that implies importance. Design elements convey a sense of importance visually by using colors, contrasts, textures, shapes, positions, orientations, and sizes.

A few examples will help you better understand. Here are 15 perfect, red circles. The image draws your attention more to the group of circles than to one particular circle.

Here’s where we add some color. When you see the group of circles, you immediately notice the black circle in the middle left. That was done on purpose. Black makes your mind detect the difference.

Hierarchy: Why Is It Important?

A designer’s tool belt includes many tools, but hierarchy is one of the most important. Hierarchy helps differentiate and prioritize visual elements and content, so the human mind knows what is more important and what should be consumed first.

Design is not just about red circles, as the examples above illustrate. Let’s take a look at an excerpt from the New York Times:

It’s a great piece of content. This is fantastic, in fact. However, something is missing. The article is difficult to read. Aside from the content itself, there is nothing separating the title from the body.

Let’s do some magic now.

That’s it! We simplified the excerpt by using font size and color. The reader will be able to focus on your story when you incorporate visual hierarchy into it. A hierarchy’s top elements are what people’s eyes are drawn to first; these are the elements that stand out the most.

By using hierarchy as a narration tool, you can show the reader how to consume content by holding their hand. The proportions of text headers tend to be larger than those of body text or sub-headers, for example.  This increases the visibility of the text, allowing it to move up the visual hierarchy.

Consider the example above and see how your mind flows. By creating a text hierarchy in this manner, messages can be organized quickly, and readers are enticed to read more in the body.

Hierarchy Display: How To Do It

Your design can be greatly influenced by hierarchy. As a result, your reader can use it to read/scan your information more efficiently. You can improve the readability of your design by directing your audience toward the information they need to digest first.

A lot of people don’t want to spend time trying to understand something; instead, they want quick bite-sized bits of information. Hierarchy is one of the most effective ways to communicate information through design.

In this article, we will explore three ways in which hierarchy can be applied to infographics!

Using typefaces

Overall, a clean and simple design depends on a proper balance of text hierarchy. It is normal for headers to take the highest position in the hierarchy of text and capture the attention of the reader. Usually, they are bold due to the use of a different typeface, or due to styling, and they are larger. A subtitle is usually followed by a brief title introducing each subsequent section.

Through Size

At first glance, larger things tend to catch the eye. It is therefore a good tactic to move up an element in the hierarchy by making it larger.

Immediately after viewing the image, your attention is drawn to the embedded title. When you read an article, you need to start with the headline, which gives the article a sense of importance.

To hook the reader into the rest of the content, it’s crucial to convey the right and relevant message. Thus, make sure the element is meaningful, and relevant, and helps narrate the visual message, besides tweaking its size.

Alignment and whitespace

Keep your infographic neat and easy to consume. Make sure there is enough white space around the headline or blown-up icon you choose to grab your readers’ attention.

It should lead users to the next part of the design (again, visual hierarchy theory applies).

Are you eager to put your newly acquired knowledge into practice? The Adobe Photoshop & Illustrator software and the Canva app allow you to customize your own graphics and marketing projects.

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(Credits: Piktochart, Pexels)