Balance is all about harmony. So, when you see something that looks nice with a sense of consistency and similarity, most likely you observe a perfectly balanced composition. It can be an object in nature, a painting, a building, a photography or even a website.
In this article, we’d like to draw your attention to visual balance in web design. You probably already know what balance is, but visual balance in web design may sound tricky to you. When you were a kid, you learned to ride a bicycle and fell down several times due to a lack of a balance (though your body remembers the importance of balance). However, let’s take a look at this phenomenon from another point of view–i.e. as it relates to web design.
If you want objects on your web page or the entire website to look polished and incredibly elegant, you should make a website symmetrical. This effect is easily achieved by placing similar objects on either side of the center axis. This may be illustrated through images of the same size, grid-based text paragraphs, or a photo with matching text. Here are a couple of examples of website designs that follow this format.
You can easily find many centered layouts around the web, and actually, symmetry is considered to be the most pleasing type of design to the eye. Thus, people are inclined to take a closer look at this type of design without feeling uncomfortable. It’s a typical way of thinking for most of us.
However, when designing symmetrical design, it’s sometimes not so simple to create from scratch. Considering this, it’s good to start out using a flat color scheme and a good amount of white space until you become more experienced creating this type of design.
Because this type of design is more pleasing to the eye, it’s more commonly used in today’s web designs. But web surfers are saturated with clean, perfectly symmetrical views that professional designers work so hard to achieve. So on rare occasions, sophisticated web users crave something different from symmetrical designs, a design that’s a bit more challenging for the eye to process–asymmetrical design.
Asymmetry brings a casual spirit into any design. It is something a little more unnatural to viewers, even though it is commonly used in graphic and web design. Often, you’ll see websites with huge background photos featuring an object that’s off-center from the axis of the composition.
Another great way of utilizing asymmetrical balance in your designs is with disproportional objects above the fold. That can be curved lines, groups of objects of different size, or combinations of text with photos like these websites use.
5. The Enterprise Foundation
(UPDATE: This site is no longer online.) Many viewers find it original and eye-catching when the main object of the design is shifted to the left or right (or top or bottom). Asymmetrical balance requires additional parameters like color and shape, so if you decide to feature it, you should be ready to experiment before launch to avoid confusing site visitors.
Asymmetrical designs, which seem extremely off-balance visually, certainly have their time and place. But this style must be used sparingly, only in select situations where it’s sure to appeal to the site viewer. Remember that an asymmetrical design is an extremely powerful tool that can be used as motivation for viewers to stay on and explore your website.
Whatever type of asymmetrical look you prefer, it’s important to keep the entire design balanced.
This type of balance is probably the most typical for website layouts. Most cultures read from left to right, and it’s rather natural for them to observe similar or equal elements on the left and right sides of web pages.
A horizontally balanced page structure is highly recommended for projects with a conservative audience. If your client is not focused on creativity, then your design should be simple and restrained. Here’s an example of a website with a horizontal balance.
Vertical balance occurs when the top and bottom elements of the design are very similar. A heavy image can be balanced with white space, a light menu, or rich colored elements–anything with clean lines. This remarkably simple solution is great for projects with an image slider placed somewhere in the header. It also works well for typography-based designs like the sites below.
8. Paradox Labs
(UPDATE: This site is no longer online.)
So, What Makes a Design Successful?
Having high user satisfaction is the key to successful design. So in this next section, let’s take a look at some design elements that influence the feeling of balance and user satisfaction in a website.
Be careful when choosing a color palette for your site. Apply a few tones (2-3 will be enough) to stay visually attractive. When mixing too many colors, viewers may interpret it as messy and naturally reject the website.
Take a look at the design below–it’s obvious that there are many more colors than there should be. The colors are aggressive, and regardless of the layout structure, the design can’t be saved.
(UPDATE: This page is no longer online.) The flat design trend began about a year ago, and as a result many websites were quickly redesigned. Now, there are an overabundance of unreadable web pages, with text and backgrounds blending with each other. Unbalanced color schemes destroyed potentially good layouts. So, if you want to avoid this mistake, be sure the colors you’re going to use complement each other. There are many online color tools that you can use for free: Paletton, Copaso, Adobe Kuler, ColorCode, and CheckMyColors to name a few.
White space is a convenient and attractive tool to break up on-page space and to make content more visually appealing. This minimalistic trend has been around for years, so it’s probably around to stay for many more.
When using white space, designers can quickly balance cluttered content sections with lighter elements. It allows the look to be clean and simple while bringing in additional information in the form of text, graphics or videos.
Photos and Images
When a website has too many images, users are hit with a slow load time. When site visitors enter the site with their mobile devices, the site’s input and output traffic is limited. It becomes hard to upload huge photos and videos and people tend to leave their session in frustration.
This doesn’t mean that graphic images and photos aren’t to be used. However, if you use a grid image gallery or a photo slider with a lot of pictures, be sure to optimize the other parts of the web page to maximize its functioning capability and minimize load time. This will ensure your images come through crisp, clear, and quickly rather than as pixelated or worse, broken images.
Size of Objects
The size of the elements in your design will help determine if either a symmetrically or asymmetrically balanced design will work best. Equally large or small objects located above the fold will bring you closer to that visual balance you are striving for. At the same time, if you choose content blocks of different sizes, they create a sort of balanced disproportion that still pleases the eye.
10. Media Bodies
(UPDATE: This site is no longer online.)
When creating a web page’s mockup, everything seems to be simple. But when the layout is filled with colors, images, and shapes, everything is not so easily viewed. Every design element has its own properties and characteristics that can complement or work against each other. To balance the look of the site, you can move design elements closer to or further from the center line (whether it is imaginary or real).
It should be mentioned that when entering a website, we tend to take a closer look at the center of the screen instead of its borders and edges.
12. Sun Resorts
Balance is a basic principle of web design that is easily lost. By utilizing common web design elements, like choosing the right colors, shapes, object size and placement, visual balance can be more easily achieved. All in all, don’t be afraid to do something different as the concept of balance is still very versatile.