Design composition and visual hierarchy


As a product manager, providing an informed critique of visual design is something one does often. Here are some of the basics that designers keep in mind as they design things. As a product manager, having these terms and concepts handy helps give relatable feedback and helps drive discussions around a common understanding.

Harmony is what every visual form strives to attain. Harmony of elements is the eventual goal of any design exercise, an agreement of aesthetic and thematic elements. And if the right osmosis of aesthetics has happened, if a society or user is ready, the harmony may even be called beauty.

Three Cs of design –

Composition – is how components of a design are combined. Alignment, spaces, placements, visual flow, grouping etc are some of the elements of composition. Composition is the key lever to achieve harmony. One example is to look at how how the visual flow is guiding the eye of the user in such a way that it is easier on the user’s eye.

Components – the elements. color, images, typography, illustrations, icons.

Concept – the message. theme, connotations, style. As in the abstract. Like how does this design make you feel. In some design briefs, product managers fill in the “tone” of the design. More importantly though, defining what users take home from the design. A good example is usage of repetition to help users recognize a pattern, put the user’s brain at ease and help users explore further.

Here is a good infographic covering some fundamental composition techniques –

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p m

is a generalist. very lazily believes specialization is for insects.

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