The Golden Ratio: A Timeliness Principle for Web Designers

In the realm of web design, achieving visual harmony is vital to creating engaging websites that convert. One of the most powerful tools in a designer’s arsenal to attain this balance is the Golden Ratio. But what is it? In this blog, we’ll explore what it is, its history and how designers can practically use it to lay out designs and size page elements to perfection.

What is the Golden Ratio?

The Golden Ratio is simply a mathematical concept, represented by the symbol φ (phi) and approximately equal to 1.618. It seems utterly mysterious how such a number can result in design elegance, but it’s not just a number, it’s a fundamental law of nature.

Spiral Galaxy

History of the Golden Ratio

The Golden Ratio can be traced back to ancient Greece, where it was first recognised by mathematicians like Euclid. Its application in art and architecture is evident in the works of renowned figures such as Phidias, the sculptor of the Parthenon, and in the Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci, who incorporated the Golden Ratio into his paintings and architectural designs - even the Mona Lisa!

Mona Lisa - Golden Ratio

Maths Alert: the golden spiral (shown in the image above) is a logarithmic spiral whose growth factor is equal to the Golden Ratio. In other words, the golden spiral gets wider by a factor of φ for every quarter turn it takes.

Modern Use

In more modern times, the Golden Ratio has been used across a variety of disciplines.

A famous example in the architecture world is The Seagram Building in New York City, known for its simple and elegant design. Its proportions are said to be based on the Golden Ratio, with the height of the building being 1.618 times the width.

Seagram Building - Golden Ratio

In the tech world, the Apple logo is based on the golden rectangle. This means the ratio of the width to the height of the rectangle is equal to the Golden Ratio. Feeling a sense of harmony?

Apple Logo

Practical Applications in Web Design

Layout

Designers can effectively utilise the Golden Ratio to enhance the layout and balance of their creations. By applying the Golden Ratio to determine the proportions of page elements, such as page width, margins, and text blocks, designers can achieve a visually harmonious layout that guides the viewer's eye and creates a sense of coherence. When designing your website, use the following frames to help stimulate your thoughts!

Frame 1 - Golden Ratio
Frame 2 - Golden Ratio
Frame 3 - Golden Ratio

Sizing

The Golden Ratio can also be used to determine the ideal sizing of individual elements on a page, such as headings, buttons, and text. By applying the Golden Ratio to determine the size of these elements relative to each other, designers can create a sense of visual hierarchy and balance, making it easier for the viewer to navigate the page and focus on key information. For example, in our last project we made the desktop elements the following sizes:

  • Heading 1: 60px
  • Heading 2: 37px
  • Heading 3: 23px
  • Paragraph: 14px

For elements like CTAs (call to actions) and other important pieces of content, we decided to break this Golden Ratio rule to make these elements stand out, applying a font of 20px. The science of the unconscious mind is wonderful don’t you think?

Golden Takeaways

  • The Golden Ratio is a mathematical relationship between two quantities that has been proven to capture our attention.
  • The Golden Ratio has been used in art, architecture, and design for centuries - it’s a timeless principle.
  • Designers can use the Golden Ratio to improve the layout of a page by determining the proportions of page elements, such as page width, margins, and text blocks.
  • Designers can also use the Golden Ratio to size elements on a page, such as headings, buttons, and text, to create a sense of visual hierarchy and balance.

By incorporating the Golden Ratio into your designs, you can create visually appealing and balanced websites that are sure to make a lasting impression.

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