Displays – Technique


(focus and flow) is the point of initial eye contact. It is from this point that all other eye movements emanate and flow. The point of emphasis may be appropriately placed in one of two positions as the viewer faces the display.

It may occur in or very near the optical center of the display. This is halfway from either side and slightly above the bottom half. With this type of emphasis placement, the eye will flow evenly on all sides of the point of emphasis, eventually taking in the entire display.

The point of emphasis may also be placed in the upper left corner of the display area. This type of placement assumes that the eye of the viewer will proceed like the person is reading a page – from upper left to lower right – thereby covering the entire display.

When a display is approached from either side rather than from front and center, it is advisable to place a secondary emphasis point on each wing of the area. The passerby will be halted visually, pausing so that the primary point of emphasis will come into view, and the eye will, once again, proceed throughout the entire display.

Methods of creating emphasis

A point of emphasis may occur through use of one of the following:
A contrast of a visually projecting color, such as a red dot on a neutral background.

A contrasting shape, such as a circular object in a field of horizontal and vertical lines.

A contrasting texture, such as velvet object, on a smooth and dull surface, or a highly reflective metallic item on a background of non-reflective woods.

A particularly large object that, although it is in proportion to the total field, is clearly dominant in terms of its importance in the display area.


is the equality of two things in weight, force and quantity. To balance is to compare as to relative importance, value and weight. Balance should be created in relation to color and mass.

Examples where display components might be different but remain in balance:
Use exact objects in both parts of the display.

Use in the two halves different-sized objects that, by their placement will appear in balance. For example, a small item placed in the foreground will balance a larger item placed in the background.

Balance objects of brighter color with larger objects that have less intensity of color.

Balance smaller objects with larger objects by the frequency with which they appear. For example, one large item can be balanced with two or more smaller items.

To determine balance in a display do the following:

Draw an imaginary line down the center of the display. To achieve formal balance, place objects, weight for weight, on either side of the line. To achieve informal balance, place pictures and props so that more weight occurs on one side than on the other. Usually the side weighing the most will be on the left, since the upper right side is the end of the eyes’ path and often has fewer photos on it.

Place heavier objects and stronger colors closer to the floor or base of the display to avoid top-heaviness.