Using Symmetry in Design Can Enhance User Experience. Balance is important in “all walks of life”. For instance, the right balances of features help make a human face attractive. On the other hand, maintaining balance in work and our personal life contributes to living a happier and productive life. Balance is also a desirable characteristic of a design composition. A balanced design not just looks aesthetically pleasing but also gives better control over the design structure.
Proper balance in design helps in improving the quality of visual communication and in making the viewer’s eye focus on places – we want them to show in a design.
Wondering how you can create a sense of balance in your web designs? You can do so by using symmetry in your design. In this post, we’ll talk about symmetry: its significance, types and a few tips on maintaining it in the right way.
Symmetry and its types?
It is a fundamental design principle that shows the balance between two or more opposing sides. Symmetry refers to the arrangement of well-proportioned and balanced elements in a design.
Though there are several types of symmetry, but the most significant ones are bilateral (or reflection), radial (or rotational) and translational symmetry. Each of the three types of symmetry can be used to improve visual stability in a design. Let us now take a look at each of the types one by one:
1. Reflection Symmetry
The most common type of symmetry is the Reflection symmetry (also known as bilateral or line symmetry). It results in producing “mirror” effect, of an object having two sides.
The best example of reflection symmetry we can think of is a butterfly, simply because one-half of a butterfly is a mirror image of the other half.
This is an image of a butterfly; now let us fold one side of the butterfly as shown below:
In the above image, you can see that the right and left halves mirror around a vertical central axis, which represents the two matching sides of the butterfly.
Apart from the vertical direction, reflection symmetry can take on a diagonal direction or anything in between.
In web designs, reflection symmetry can be used to group rows of related elements, helping website users to locate similar elements from the website in an easy and pleasant way, which greatly enhances the user experience.
2. Rotational Symmetry
Rotational symmetry (also referred to as radial symmetry) is when an object is rotated around a center point. In this type of symmetry, an object is turned in equidistant increments, however, it looks exactly the same the way it did in its original position. A few examples of rotational symmetry used in web designs are signs, design patterns, letters, etc.
When you rotate a shape in a circular movement (i.e. 360°), you can create rotational symmetries of order 1, order 2, order 3 and order 4.
In web design, rotational symmetry can be used to represent motion or speed. In addition, it also portrays dynamic action.
3. Translational Symmetry
Translational symmetry is when an object is moved (forward or backward) in different areas of space but maintain its exact orientation. As shown in the example below, we’ve moved squares several times from background to the foreground, and the squares appears to increase in size as we come closer to them, which creates a sense of motion and movement.
In this example, the squares are moved at equal intervals. However, it is not necessary to relocate the objects at equal intervals, but they only need to be placed proportionally.
Tips on Using Symmetry in Design
# Tip 1 – Use Line Symmetry for Portfolio or Photography Websites – As we had discussed above, line (or reflection) symmetry is good for grouping similar elements. Since portfolio and photography sites mainly focus on displaying images or artwork of same order and size, using line symmetry helps in your design will make your work look aesthetically pleasing to visitors’ eye.
# Tip 2 – Use Rotational Symmetry to Portray Motion and Action – Rotational symmetry can help simulate movement and action in an otherwise flat or static design. And thus, guide website users to progress in performing any specific task or make a further movement.
# Tip 3 – Use Translational Symmetry for Creating a Design Layout – Placing pieces of content (like text or images) of almost same size and spreading them across the website design while maintaining enough space is a great way to help identify what they want to locate in any particular web page. This can be achieved through translational symmetry that often uses grid layout systems, so as to structure a page layout to maintain balance and proportion.
Symmetry is a powerful design tool that helps in creating a design having properly balanced elements that make the design look visually appealing to visitors’ eye. Put it simply, using symmetry in designs makes them more organized and easy to understand, which results in enhancing user’s experience.
This post is brought to you by Samuel Dawson, working as front-end developer for Designs2HTML Ltd. a leading PSD to Mobile conversion company and he shares concrete information, the latest trend & tips on front-end development technologies.