Induce visual behaviour using Gestalt – the principle of symmetry

Gestalt theories are a tool behavioural experts can use to predict how a user’s visual system will respond in front of a screen.

Today, let’s discover the fifth of a total of seven principles and talk about the law of symmetry.

A set of shapes will be better perceived when the individual elements are symmetrical.

Thanks to this principle, shapes can be grouped around an axis (vertical and/or horizontal). The axis in itself can also be a shape. This allows the brain to better guide the foveal fixations on the screen.

The geometry of a screen starts with the fixation of the priority vertical and horizontal axes. The intersections will allow for the placement of the priority graphical elements.

Gestalt - Ethias vs Axa

The principles of symmetry, closure, good continuation, proximity and similarity enable the natural focus on the appropriate graphical elements of the screen.

Sometimes, when secondary graphical elements compete with the priority elements, the expert will adapt the Gestalt principles in order to diminish the emphasis on these secondary elements.

I’ve used these techniques when I was working on the Ethias site. I have emphasized the attention onto the priority graphical elements (the green and orange zones), thanks to the combined application of the Gestalt principles, whilst diminishing the attention to the non-priority zones.

Gestalt - Symmetry

Gestalt - Symmetry

In the case of Ethias, the green objects are symmetrical to the central element. When you take a closer look, you will see that the central green object is located in the so-called Netway Interface Sweet Spot™.

In the AXA screen, this principle is present but the objects are placed too closely together. As a result the brain will not be able to identify a set of different graphical elements but will perceive just one shape.

That’s why it is important to take into account the effects of the peripheral vision when creating screens. Without doing so, the Gestalt principles will lose their effectiveness.

Have an excellent week!