Principle of Similarity in the Gestalt Theory

Discover how the Gestalt Perspective on Similarity can help graphic and web designers create images that impact viewers. The Laws of Perception, founded on Gestalt Theory, enable us to improve screen design so that the presentation is more comprehensible and conducive to learning.
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    Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2020 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

    This article examines how designers might use the Principle of Similarity of the Gestalt Theory to achieve compositional balance. In graphic design, the Principle of Similarity allows us to build visually cohesive pieces. Understanding the application of Gestalt principles is crucial for all graphic designers. They help us organise the space in which we develop our graphics and clear the path for visitors to read, comprehend, and be impacted by communication.

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    Gestalt Principles of Perception

    A perspective on the importance of Gestalt Theory to graphic design

    The principle of Similarity in the Gestalt Theory

    “THE WHOLE IS OTHER THAN THE SUM OF THE PARTS” (Gestalt Psychologist, Kurt Koffka)

    It is vital to establish that all Gestalt Principles (similarity, continuation, closure, closeness, figure/ground, symmetry & order (also known as prägnanz)) interact together. One principle cannot be used to remove the others. They complement one another. This does not imply that you must include them all in your drawing. But some principles, or all the necessary principles, must be present to transform the visuals you make into flawless communication tools.

    In a website page, the principles of Similarity and Proximity, for instance, could provide ideal guidelines for designing form fields, checkboxes, and buttons. When our eyes see the images, the proximity of the objects or shapes indicates that they belong to the same group. At the same time, the repeating patterns’ similarity reinforces their significance and conveys their message to the visitors.

    Our content creation services are communicated using the principles of proximity and similarity to tie together elements making it clear to the visitors which items are alike (for instance, buttons with the same shape and colour stand out to the visitor’s perception and transmit their importance.

    The goal is to efficiently route visitors to the information they want without requiring them to disassemble their brains. The illustrations on top indicate which type of service is described in the rectangle, and the titles share the same colour and font size to distinguish the service supplied and its brief explanation readily. All items adhere to the same method based on the intuitive ways visitors would naturally employ. 

    “Items that are similar tend to be grouped together.”

    Computer vision

    Software developers routinely employ similarity principles all the time to provide visitors with a form of computer vision in which they will have the ability to see everything, and all instructions are clearly defined on each page.

    There are always examples of similarity in our daily lives. When we visit the supermarket, we see rows and shelves of merchandise. They are categorised in the store layout with product placement and other practical and psychological techniques to provide a complete view of the shopper’s experience. The clear generalisation of distinct things motivates clients and serves as a call to action based on their needs or desires.

    The technique through which we organise our websites must be consistent. In interfaces, advertising, and all other websites, the arrangement of individual elements enables visitors to locate a clear, holistic page structure in a user-friendly manner.

    The connection between spaces and cognitive perception

    Our minds are hardwired to transform a complex of dots and individual pieces into something more straightforward, like “one whole thing” that has patterns recognised by our minds and has meaning.

    How the Principle of Similarity works

    Similar articles tend to be grouped together.

    According to Gestalt Psychology, our minds tend to see similar-appearing items as constituting a single entity. Objects with visually comparable shapes, hues, outlines, and dimensions are classified accordingly.

    The psychology and usability of the encrypted visual signals must be accurate for viewers to receive and decode information successfully.

    As stated above, the Similarity Principle influences other Gestalt principles. This example illustrates how Similarity Principle also relates to the Principle of Continuity. You see the triangles and squares as belonging to their separate forms, but you also perceive continuity of line for the triangles and squares. In contrast, in reality, the item is composed of four intersecting lines.

    Given an option, the Gestalt Theory affirms that our brain would select and focus on the simplest and most stable shape.

    A crucial fundamental for graphic designers

    Therefore, if you want your audience to notice anything in your design, you must first identify it. Your audience should first notice your design when they see your design.

    A designer must influence the audience’s eyes (and minds) to draw their attention to the elements that convey the message.

    Designing an ecommerce store involves grouping things together, employing an acceptable style, and enhancing visual communication to capture the audience’s attention.

    Examine the repeating pattern used by Polaroid on its website. You rapidly notice the products and their descriptions and feel pleased because you can comprehend the message and make decisions based on your preferences. Similarity and Proximity facilitate the rapid and seamless scanning of data.

    The power of similarity in web design

    Similarity can be demonstrated in numerous ways, including position, colour, layout, etc. However, adding a contrasting object to the same composition will grab attention without detracting from the shape’s overall symmetry and aesthetic appeal.

    Myer’s online site uses this principle to draw attention to its fashion clearance, which stands out among similar product categories.

    Consistent text fields in clearly aligned category boxes can be utilised to create the perception of resemblance even if the products sold are dissimilar.

    Harvey Norman clearly displays the health, fitness, and beauty products they sell, even though they do not physically resemble one another. The perception of similarity is conveyed by the consistent text fields they employ, and the message is identified by the genre, layout, and theme that are consistent throughout the page.

    Links

    Links allow for substantial interactions between web pages and applications. They must be distinguishable from other elements and readily identifiable depending on the context. However, they must also be similar and have a standard function.

    The hyperlinks in the current post are highlighted in light blue. If you desire additional information regarding the text, you will be directed to the links (no affiliation). This is a well-known procedure followed throughout the entire post and is typical of all online blogs.

    Content

    For the visitor to navigate a website, our pages must display content relationships. The site is structured using content hierarchies, which entail the strategic arrangement of content to organise the information provided by the website. Our eyes perceive visual information more than data blocks. How we see information is influenced by characteristics that affect how we order content hierarchy and actively get involved with a website’s message.

    The Menu of Moss51 Art & Design employs Proximity and Similarity to indicate that the secondary pages of Graphic Design Services belong to the same main page. They have a relationship—a closer relationship to Graphic Design Services than to the other pages.

    This is a simple example, but it graphically emphasises the content hierarchy, clarifies what links to what, and expedites the visitors’ ability to locate the information they seek.

    Organisation

    The organisation is required not just for the website’s content but also for other features. It helps us comprehend which elements are related to one another and the nature of their interaction.

    In this example, we can see that the elements are placed in horizontal rows since the colours are the distinguishing characteristics, and the shapes are uniform. The use of colour denotes the composition’s relationship and establishes its compositional structure.

    A graphic design fundamental to follow

    The concepts we’ve explored today may appear to be pretty elementary, and that’s because they are. They appear simple because they are a component of our thinking. But when we design, we may overlook them and their vital viewpoint on our audience. They must be prominently displayed in the website’s layout to convey the intended message.

    As a graphic and web designer, you must learn how to apply those principles to establish your individual conceptual depths in both types of design. It expands our perception of what is possible.

    Are you ready to create Something Spectacular?

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    I hope you enjoyed reading this article. Did you find the information on this post useful? Leave your comments below. 

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    Cidinha Moss

    Cidinha Moss

    Cidinha Moss is the founder of Moss51 Art & Design, an SEO Content Writing and Web design studio. She is a content writer and web builder with a background in languages, education, and entrepreneurship with years of writing, teaching, and providing effective text, images, and web designs to her clients. You can find her on Facebook or LinkedIn.

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