Visual Perceptions of UX - The Discourse #6

Learn the principles of Gestalt psychology in 5 minutes

“Good design is actually a lot harder to notice than poor design, in part because good designs fit our needs so well that the design is invisible, serving us without drawing attention to itself.”

In today’s edition we try to understand what makes good design invisible. Our brains use shortcuts to make sense of the visual world. By knowing principles of visual perception, you’ll have a better eye for design in a few minutes.

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You visually separate the foreground from the background.

What you're reading right now is the simplest example of Figure/Ground. The black text on a white background, or vice versa. 

Where can you see this in UI design? Almost everywhere. There's a clear separation of the background from the foreground for the viewer to focus their attention on the foreground.

The white vase is clearly separated from the black background


You perceive objects that are similar to each other to be a part of the same group. The similarity could be in length, shape, color or other parameters.

Since the input fields and button are of similar size and shape, they are perceived as one group 


You perceive objects that are arranged physically close together as one group.

Taking the same example, you can see that the input fields are arranged close together at an equal distance to indicate the grouping.

You can perceive two distinct groups based on the proximity of objects


You can group a series of elements to be one object by identifying the continuity of the edges. This allows you to distinguish two or more intersecting objects.

In this example, the horizontal line is in continuation and the curved line goes from top to bottom. We tend to see contiguous structures even though the colors try to confuse you. 


You can visualize something which has incomplete segments to be a whole object. Your brain will fill in the gaps. Our minds are experts at this. We perceive patterns rather than complete objects.

You see a complete rectangle here despite the gaps in the object.


As human beings, we try to look for symmetry in objects. We find symmetry extremely pleasant due to evolutionary biology. Most objects in the real world are symmetric and asymmetric objects usually have meant illness or danger.

Even though the square brackets and curly braces are close together, you will still perceive symmetry as being the grouping. 

Congratulations, you've made it to the end! Now you can tell your friends that you understand Gestalt Principles of visual perceptions.

That's it for today. Talk to you soon! Follow me on Twitter @KavirKaycee

— Kavir

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