Using Design Tension to Draw Your Readers Attention


Using Design Tension to Draw Your Readers Attention

Symmetry, proper proportions, and centered objects are elements of design that are common to see and therefore often fail to captivate your audience. Next time you’re putting together a print/design project, keep in mind the design tension tips below in order to increase attention and interest.

Use the rule of thirds

Commonly used in art and photography, the rule of thirds is when you visualize your work separated into equal thirds horizontally and vertically. Place important or significant objects onto one of the ‘lines’ that separate a third. This creates tension that remains anchored and appealing.  


Use complimentary colours together (ones that appear across from each other on the colour wheel) to make your project brighter and stand out. Common colour pairings include orange and blue; red and green; and purple and yellow. Play around with different shades of each to find what fits with your design and brand.


Be creative with the size and position of fonts. Try tilting a heading vertically or askew while your paragraph text remains horizontal. This will draw your audience in because it is not a common way to depict text and the reader has to pay closer attention.

Partially conceal objects

This method involves overlapping type and text to create design tension. Think of how magazines often have their front page model partially covering the magazine title. Doing this also gives a 3D quality and sense of movement to the page.

Move things off the page

Don’t feel like you are confined by margins and borders. Place some images and designs slightly off the page or beyond the traditional layout. Just make sure to not obscure any important text.

Try out these tips, keeping in mind to use them sparingly. Avoid using them all on one page, and make sure it does not obstruct the main text you want your audience to read and understand.  When used creatively and effectively design tension is a great way to make your page unique, draw in extra attention, and leave a lasting impression.   

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