What Is Visual Design?

By Leonor Crossley
Visual design is how a piece is composed to appeal to the human eye.

Visual design is the way a piece of artwork, a room, yard, video game, photo or other artistic subject is composed and appeals to the human eye. The Federal Highway Administration reports that what people see denotes 87 percent of how something is perceived.

Definition

Visual design is not about what a piece is saying literally through words, but it is everything about what a piece is saying visually and emotionally--solely through appearance.

Concepts

Some basic visual design concepts include color, contrast, typography, composition, line, texture, space and shape. Color and use of white space often evoke a certain mood. Lines guide viewers through a composition. Typography—the use of type as a design element—can add visual interest.

Audience

Each composition uses different concepts. The intended audience for a piece can mold its visual design. A piece primarily for the elderly might place more emphasis on type size (typography) and contrast, while a piece geared toward children may make use of vivid colors and textures.

Adaptation

While all elements of visual design use a basis of these concepts, variations depend upon occupation. Web designers, for example, must also consider interactive graphic content, ease of navigation through the site, background imagery and placement of multimedia.

Importance

Successful graphic design relies heavily upon a solid visual concept. Without effective visual design, advertisements, posters, signs, brochures and other print materials are meaningless. It is visual design that grabs people’s attention and encourages them to analyze the piece more carefully.

About the Author

Leonor Crossley has been a graphic designer and writer since 1995, with entertainment and other articles written for "Max Magazine" in Jacksonville, NC, and various websites. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts, cum laude, from Kutztown University in Pennsylvania.