Visual Communication is the art of transforming your visitor’s experience by combining words, visuals, and colors to convey one common message. This marriage of elements triggers responses from multiple facets of the human psyche. By combining the basic principles of design directly into and around stimulating content, one can connect with an online visitor on multiple levels. Marty Neumeier asserts that there are seven such levels including perception, sensation, emotion, intellect, identification, reverberation, and spirituality [zotpressInText item=”GM6IMVF4″].

  1. Perception is the initial response of the human mind to visual stimuli. Visual hierarchy, color, lines, images, image placement, font face, font type, font color, white space, and motion can all be used to attract the attention of viewers.
  2. Sensation is the initial ‘gut feeling’ reaction that viewers have as they mentally process their perception of the visuals. This sensation can span from repulsion to curiosity.
  3. Emotion is a complex state of feeling that often influences thought and behavior. Appealing to emotions rather than reason carries an enormous level of persuasive influence.
  4. Intellect is the aspect of the brain stimulated by words, wit, humor and reason. These aspects appeal to both sides of the brain and provide your readers with deeper levels of understanding.
  5. Identification is the satisfaction of an individual’s desire to belong to a group. Everyone has this natural psychological desire which can be satisfied by organizations or movements.
  6. Reverberation is the persistence of a memory. Nostalgic communication often create certain levels of immediate trust, comfort and dependability.
  7. Spirituality includes the moral and artistic aspects of the human psyche. This level of connection is made when every aspect of a design converges in perfect unison to deliver the message.

squirrel“Messages must connect with viewers at many levels… The more the audience views a message that speaks to them on an emotional level, the more likely they are to comprehend and remember the work.” [zotpressInText item=”AFAWQ9TI”]

Design Principles for Bloggers

Successful visual communication guides audiences to the deepest levels of connection with you or your brand. For this reason, understanding and applying the most basic principles of design will help bloggers and webmasters to drastically improve the effectiveness of their content.

There are two primary goals that must be considered throughout the design process: simplistic usability and aesthetic appeal. [zotpressInText item=”N2AHVHBA”]

  • Usability focuses on the pure presentation of information, ease of navigation, and the overall efficiency of browsing and interacting with your content.
  • Aesthetics focuses on the eye candy, the presentation experience, and the cool animations.

In order to be the truly effective, one should create a zen-like balance which accomplishes both. This will cause your visitors not only to enjoy the content they read on your site, but also to enjoy the experience of reading the content on your site.

An Exception to the Rules

“As my calligraphy teacher, Donald Jackson, so eloquently observed, ‘All rules can be broken in the most divinely successful ways.’ This sentiment has been agreed upon by many…yet it leads beginners to think that there really are no hard and fast rules. Nothing could be further from the truth.” [zotpressInText item=”8N7RZ5MD”]

A common response to many design principles is the desire to flout the rules as an expression of independence. Although this often works well for highly experienced designers, this should be avoided. There are always exceptions to any rule, but understanding when to make those exceptions comes only with years of experience and study.

Group Discussion

As I was writing this post, it began ballooning into something much larger than I had anticipated. As a result, I’ve decided to cut it in half and deliver this as the first half and introduction to the subject. The second half should be finalized by Monday. In the second half, I’ll be diving into some more practical concepts including typography on the open web, the psychology of color, and a few thoughts on the use of images. With each of those topics I’ll be including practical strategies that can be deployed by bloggers of all levels to improve the experience that your readers enjoy on your site.

At this point, however, I want to get your feedback so far. Have you heard of the seven levels of connection prior to this article? On what level of connection do you think you most often connect with your readers? On what level of connection do you find yourself being connected with on other blogs?

Nicholas Cardot

About Nicholas Cardot

It's my personal quest to enable every person that I can to unlock that dormant potential concerning their online influence. Also, I'm a geek.


  • Ami says:

    This idea is one of the classics in advertising and message creation. People have been doing this for years and are successful for a while (TV did it widely in the 1970s & 80s). It’s nice to see it adopted to bloggers. Learning what people have done in other fields, especially in advertising can help bloggers in many ways, especially developing a message and getting it to be read and understood. Good start!

    • Thanks, Ami. When I was studying and reading for this article, I came across an interesting quote that really summarizes all of this. Unfortunately, I cam across it after I finished this first segment so everyone will have to wait until part two to get it word for word. But I’ll paraphrase it here: The design should not distract or detract from the content. It should create a conduit that directs people directly to the content with ease and enjoyment. And, of course, the design should be related in some way to the content so that it’s sending the same signals emotionally and on these other levels as what your content is sending. Anyways, thanks for the great comment.

  • write circle then draw a circle. the picture will elicit a response 700x faster. it’s simply because our subconscious mind reacts to pictures and emotions best.

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