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What is Visual Weight?

What is Visual Weight?

Design Process
7 min read

Imagine being able to steer user experiences into the emotions and sensations you intend. What if we told you that this power is well within your reach? Equipped with tried-and-true design principles, you wield a potent instrument.

As a design agency, Arounda has experienced firsthand the significance of employing this foundation. Across our array of projects, we've witnessed the profound role that integrating the visual weight principle plays. We've been able to track user behavior in response to various triggers. 

In this article, we'll delve into the concept of visual weight and why it is paramount in graphic design and UI/UX.

Visual Weight Concept in Design

Visual weight is a design principle where some aspects of an image or composition appear more significant or noticeable. It's evident through factors like size, color, and contrast. This concept creates balance, hierarchy, and emphasis in design, directing viewer attention and enhancing the overall visual experience.

Visual Weight Importance

Visual weight is a foundational element that guides how viewers perceive and interact with visual compositions. Let's delve into why it's so crucial in design:

Perception and Interpretation

Visual weight guides our brain's understanding of visual information. While our eyes receive light, the brain transforms it into meaningful images. You control attention, information flow, and narrative guidance by allocating different visual weights to elements.

Psychological Impact

Visual weight influences how we perceive designs. Heavier elements attract more attention, becoming focal points that convey significance. Adjusting visual weight evokes emotions and shapes the audience's connection with your design.

Balance and Harmony

Much like our innate physical stability, our visual perception yearns for balance. Observers naturally seek this balance within visuals. The correct position of the visual weight ensures this stability. Establishing visual harmony through deliberate weight usage allows viewers to engage effortlessly, free from feeling overwhelmed.

Guiding Attention and Establishing Hierarchy

Visual weight is a tool for directing the viewer's attention and creating hierarchical structures. Viewers engage with essential aspects by assigning more weight to focal points or crucial content, facilitating effective communication. 

Different weight levels set for elements create a clear structure, conveying relationships that aid viewer comprehension. It enhances engagement by leading them through the information's importance and sequence.

Unifying Composition

Balancing visual weight unifies a design. Effective weight distribution merges diverse elements, crafting a cohesive visual experience. This unity enhances professionalism and elevates design impact.

Core Visual Weight Elements 

Delving into design intricacies includes understanding the factors of visual weight for captivating compositions. Designers can manipulate elements with low and high visual weight through color and size, guiding the viewer's focus and creating dynamic compositions. Let's explore the key factors shaping your designs' hierarchy, emphasis, and balance.


Color, pivotal in visual weight, encompasses saturation, brightness, darkness, and hue, guided by the color wheel. Increased saturation grabs attention, while brightness and darkness modulate weight, especially against backgrounds. 

Darker colors stand out on lighter backgrounds. Simpler colors and smaller elements hold less weight, while complex colors and larger elements yield more impact. Simplicity aids understanding, while complexity engages. 

Specific colors possess varying visual weights, from heaviest to lightest:

  • Red tends to be the most attention-grabbing color, carrying a weight that draws the eye and establishes a focal point.
  • Blue maintains a significant visual weight, though it might not be as attention-grabbing as red.
  • Green has a balanced weight that is noticeable but not overpowering.
  • Orange has a noticeable presence but is less dominant.
  • Yellow is lighter in visual weight, often blending well with backgrounds or other elements.


Contrast spotlights specific features over others. Elements with greater contrast against their background naturally command attention, outshining those with subtle distinctions. Contrast is a linchpin for upholding visual hierarchy and ensuring easy readability.

Lightness and Darkness

Darker hues possess greater visual significance compared to lighter shades. Balancing designs relies on the interaction between light and dark elements. The rationale behind our perception of darker colors as weightier remains uncertain. But usually, people prefer placing darker shades at the image's base for a more natural feel. This instinct mirrors the physical world, where gravity naturally draws heavier objects downward, reinforcing that lower positions imply greater weight.


Size echoes physical weight in the real world. A larger object holds more weight, taking up more space. To achieve a visual weight balance based on size, designers can counteract a larger design element by incorporating multiple smaller ones. 

Alternatively, give the more minor element a more prominent color or contrast. In cases where an object demands primary attention within the design, increasing its size is compelling. 

Density and Proportion

Objects with greater density or compactness carry more weight than those that are less dense and spread out. Translating this notion into graphical depictions involves minimizing the whitespace between objects. 

It's essential to recognize that while excessive whitespace among a group of things might lend a lighter visual weight to the area, ample whitespace surrounding an object still captures attention due to its contrasting environment.


The principle of complexity in visual weight suggests that intricate elements hold more visual significance than simpler ones. Our minds spend more time processing detailed patterns, textures, and shapes, causing them to attract attention and occupy a larger part of the visual focus. 

Designers use complexity to guide attention, create focal points, and enhance visual interest, but it's essential to balance complexity with clarity to avoid confusion.

What is an example of visual weight?

Imagine a 404 error page users see when they encounter a non-existent page. The goal here is to effectively communicate the error while maintaining engagement and guiding users back on track.

The error message stands out in a larger, bold font, contrasting the background. A light-hearted phrase acknowledges the error without causing frustration. A prominent search bar below the illustration invites users to take action. The larger search bar with a subtle shadow makes it a key interactive element.

In the lower section, slightly smaller font links to popular site sections offer an alternative path for exploration. A playful illustration at the page's center captures attention and blinks, enhancing interaction and engagement.

Visual weight is applied strategically to guide user attention and interaction. A higher visual weight is assigned to the engaging illustration and search bar, capturing users' focus and motivating them to take action. At the same time, the navigation links offer an alternative route to relevant content. The combination of visual elements creates a well-balanced and user-friendly 404 error page that aligns with the website's branding and tone.


Design isn't just about aesthetics; it's a powerful tool to captivate your audience's minds and hearts. To resonate with your audience, it must adhere to fundamental principles. One of them is visual weight. 

By assigning it to specific elements, you manipulate users' attention, guide them toward desired actions, and leave them with the emotions that matter to you. 

At Arounda, we've honed the skill of applying this principle in all our projects. Design foundations are integral to our approach, yielding exceptional results. Our design projects solidify our expertise.

Contact us to collaborate with a team of professionals who can unlock design's potential for your business.


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7 min read
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FAQ on UI/UX design services

What is an example of visual weight?

On an e-commerce website's homepage, a large banner showcasing a special sale would carry significant visual weight. Its size, contrasting colors, and bold typography grab users' attention when they land on the page. A call-to-action button on a mobile app's screen might be more visible, brightly colored, and positioned prominently, encouraging users to take action. In a messaging app, a new, unread message is visually weightier through a bold font, a distinct color, and an animation, encouraging users to engage promptly.

What is visual weight?

Visual weight in design refers to the emphasis or importance a particular element carries within a composition. Size, color, placement, and contrast determine it. Elements with heavier visual weight tend to stand out more and grab the viewer's attention, while elements with lighter weight recede into the background. By understanding and balancing visual weight, designers can create compositions that effectively guide the viewer's eye and communicate hierarchy and meaning.

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