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How To Use The Golden Ratio In Web Design

Math in Design — Absolutely! For designers it’s a must to understand how to use the Golden Ration in web design.

How To Use The Golden Ratio In Web Design

Image by Rafael Javier from Pixabay

Balance in Web Design: Introducing the Golden Ratio

Designers of all kinds get tasked with creating content that is compositionally balanced, pleasing, and attractive to the human eye. A crucial aspect of being a web or UX designer is developing web pages in such a way that the user’s eyes naturally travel towards key elements of the page, guiding them comfortably to their destination

This aspect of graphic design is something that humans have understood (whether they knew it at the time or not) for thousands of years. Some compositions simply produce a more aesthetically pleasing effect than others. 

However, there is one particular mathematical equation that we apply to composition more often than we realize, and it’s called the golden ratio. 

What is the Golden Ratio?

In mathematical terms, the numbers 1.6180 represent the golden ratio. It was first recognized by ancient Greek mathematicians who observed a pattern in the way nature, humans, and architecture were formed. 

Also referred to as phi or the Golden Mean, this ratio represents any form of design which follows the symmetry of this equation. 

The equation itself is vastly complex, but it’s possible to summarize it in the following way: 

A “golden rectangle”, or rectangle which adheres to the golden ratio, would be a rectangle whose length is 1.6180 times its width. If you were to cut out a perfect square from one side of that rectangle, you would have yet another, smaller golden rectangle. 

The sequence can go on forever, like a spiral (this is where the Fibonacci sequence comes in, but that’s a topic for another day). 

This distinct pattern of symmetry gave birth to the idea that there is an equation for aesthetic beauty or harmony. And that humans can identify this equation on either or both a conscious and subconscious level. 

Examples of the Golden Ratio in Design 

Whether or not you are aware of it, the golden ratio veritably dominates design of all kinds, all over the world. The Egyptian Pyramids of Giza are one example, as is Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and Greece’s ancient Parthenon. 

example of golden ration in nature

Image by deanmarston432 from Pixabay

You see it in nature every time you look at a sunflower, succulent, pinecone or seashell. When it comes to advertising, you can see the divine proportion in familiar logos like Google, Twitter, and Facebook. Be it fine art, nature, architecture, or a widespread social media symbol, the golden ratio is something that has been present throughout history. And it has never failed to appease our senses. 

There is something about the proportions of this ratio that we feel compelled to appreciate, no matter where we seem to find it. 

Why is the Golden Ratio So Appealing to Us?

It is difficult to pinpoint exactly why we find the proportions of the golden ratio to be such an attractive composition. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the golden ratio is deeply familiar to us. We have observed and interacted with it from a young age. 

Buildings, picture books, collected flowers and even some faces—the golden ratio has surrounded us our whole lives. It is a method both nature and designers from every field have used for thousands of years to create things that are mathematically balanced and symmetrical from a structural perspective. 

It seems only natural that we’re inclined to find preference in design that is most aligned with our understanding of efficient composition. 

You wouldn’t want to sit in a wonky chair because your eyes and brain will tell you it is not compositionally balanced—you may break it, or fall off. Our compositional instincts are compelled by that which advertises its own efficiency. 

Balanced design doesn’t just satisfy us, it impresses us too. Outside of nature itself, creating something that follows such a meticulous and “perfect” pattern requires a high level of technique and experience. 

Fortunately for modern day humans, we now have access to tools and software that can do the hard thinking for us. 

Applying the Golden Ratio to Your Web Design 

If you are feeling overwhelmed by the weight of this equation’s history and credentials, don’t fret. Incorporating the golden ratio into your web design is easy with the help of ratio grids and overlays that do the math for you. If you’re using a website mockup tool, all you need to do is place the grid over your template and adjust your layout accordingly. Or if you’re creating a logo, follow the same logic. It’s that simple.

  • Images 

Whether you are working with digital artworks or photographs, incorporating images into your design work is likely a significant part of your job. 

You can improve the composition of the images you use by cropping them into sizes that are compatible with the golden ratio. Or you can put a permanent setting on your image editor that automatically does so for you. You can also easily overlay a Fibonacci spiral onto your images to ensure the best focus placement for your image. 

  • Typography 

One way to showcase the harmony of the golden ratio is to use it when selecting or developing a new typeface for your website. You can use the mathematical structure of this ratio by letting it guide your decisions around the length and width of your typeface, as well as spacing between letters and placement of letters on your web page. 

  • Page Layout 

With an increase of people using mobile devices to browse the internet, responsive site design has become imperative in designing a competent website. 

Using a percentage-based layout when applying your dimensions will result in a more balanced page design that is intuitive and comfortable for users to experience. 

Conclusion

Even if you can’t fully wrap your head around the math behind the golden ratio, history tells us that the composition is something we are naturally drawn to. And when creating a website, your aim is to attract attention and keep it.

The golden ratio may seem complex, but there’s nothing to be afraid of. Introducing the beauty and symmetry of this composition will help you create more balanced designs that users won’t want to look away from. 

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