There has been a lot of talk in the industry recently about the technical aspects of a 'fast' website. This is well-founded: page loading speed is incredibly important. But I'd argue that a page design that has good visual rhythm is equally important, especially if your page is long with lots of copy and graphics.
Like a great song that gets you singing along on your way to work, your page design should strive for rhythmic success. The way in which a visitor scans the page as they scroll through it determines if they'll remember any of it, or in the worst case, read it in the first place.
Having visual cues designed into the flow of the page will help. Applying basic design principles – for example, balance, contrast, spacing, proximity and repetition – can all help the visitor identify what's important and focus on it. Having good typography, particularly proper leading and headline-to-body type ratios is also a factor in giving your page design a good visual rhythm.
Face it: people are not going to spend a ton of time poring over your impeccably designed page. They're going to tear over it for the one thing they've come to your site for. If they're viewing your page on a mobile device, it's even worse. To continue with the song metaphor, the best way to ensure that the content sticks with the visitor is to build in a good 'hook'.
Paying attention to visual rhythm should ensure that your design has all the hooks you need.
Words: Gene Crawford
Gene's mission is to work tirelessly at providing inspiration and insight for developers. This article originally appeared in net magazine issue 248.