What are the Gestalt principles?

gestalt principles
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In UI UX design, Gestalt principles are essential concepts that shape how we perceive and interact with digital products. This concept is a psychological principle that explains how our brains organize visual information.

By understanding and applying Gestalt principles in UI UX design, you can significantly improve the usability and aesthetics of digital interfaces. In this article, we’ll delve into the Gestalt principles, why they are essential, how to use them in UI and UX design services., and where you can apply them for maximum impact.

What are the Gestalt principles

The Gestalt principles

The 1920s was a time of great scientific discovery for psychologists, philosophers, and scientists alike. German researchers Max Wertheimer (1889-1943), Kurt Koffka(1896-), and Wolfgang Kohler studied human perception to understand better how our mind makes sense of what seems like chaotic surroundings – an endeavor that has been ongoing ever since!

The human brain is wired to group objects and make sense of the world around them. This tendency, called” Gestalt” principles by Wertheimer Kohler Koffka (1957), can be seen in how we recognize patterns without paying attention or even knowing why specific images stick with us–they do!

UI and UX designers have long been practitioners of the gestalt principles. The ideas behind these practices are constantly being studied, debated, and adopted by new generations to create innovative work across all fields.

Achieving balance in designs is essential for creating cohesive experiences that don’t lead you off track when navigating an app or website. For example, making sure your color schemes aren’t too bright/pastel, so they compete with one another but complement each other nicely, can help set expectations about what content might be coming up next.

Why are Gestalt Principles Important?

Gestalt principles are essential in UI/UX design for several compelling reasons:

  1. Visual Hierarchy: Applying these principles allows designers to establish clear visual hierarchies, helping users understand the importance and relationships between different elements on the screen.
  2. User Engagement: By leveraging Gestalt principles, designers can create more engaging and aesthetically pleasing interfaces, leading to longer user engagement and a positive user experience.
  3. Efficiency: Proper use of Gestalt principles improves the efficiency of visual communication. Users can quickly interpret and navigate the interface, reducing cognitive load and potential frustration.
  4. Consistency: Gestalt principles encourage consistency in design, making it easier for users to understand and navigate different parts of the product.


Why designers should care about the Gestalt principles

UI design can be broken down into two categories: visual and user experience. The former deals with what you see, while the latter focuses on how a person interacts with your website or application mentally and through their behavior patterns in different environments (i.e., desktop vs. mobile).

Many people confuse these terms because they often overlap; however, one key difference between them will help quickly tell which type we’re talking about here. Visual Design refers specifically to anything related directly to visuals, such as color schemes etcetera whereas Usability.

  1. With the proper guidance, you can use these design elements to make your content stand out. For example, visual hierarchy is essential for ensuring that users are reading what’s on screen rather than getting lost in background shading or gradients – which might be too distracting!
  2. The power of design can be harnessed to influence our visual perception, which allows designers and marketers to not only direct attention but also get people to take action.
  3. The gestalt principles are a set of rules to follow when designing products. They rely heavily on how customers interact with your product and can lead you in the right direction if appropriately used, helping make beautiful designs that please people as well as intuitive ones!

Use Gestalt Principles in UI UX Design

How to Use Gestalt Principles in UIUX Design:

  1. Layout and Composition: Arrange elements based on proximity and similarity to group-related items. This is particularly important for creating intuitive navigation menus and organizing content.
  2. Visual Hierarchy: Utilize size, color, and contrast to establish a clear visual hierarchy. This helps guide users’ attention to the most essential elements.
  3. Highlighting and Feedback: Use closure and continuation to create a sense of interaction and provide feedback when users perform actions, such as hovering over buttons or clicking links.
  4. Whitespace: Leverage whitespace (negative space) to separate and emphasize different interface sections. This aids in maintaining a clear figure-ground relationship.
  5. Consistency in Design Patterns: Apply Gestalt principles consistently across the entire product to create a cohesive and user-friendly experience.


Gestalt web design principles

Gestalt theory plays an effective role in visual design. On the other hand, basic principles are considered for this theory and these theories usually overlap. Our current decision is to explain using the most important principles of experience design.

1-Gestalt principle of proximity

This is due to proximity, or how we perceive relatedness. Proximity means objects that are close together appear more similar than those at varying distances from each other; for example, on the Google News site below the text “Headlines” stands out as being very much a part of this card’s content even though it doesn’t enclose everything inside its borders!

With Mook, a free Webflow template by Tim Noah of Designhill fame. Here he uses proximity and common regions to clarify that “Our work” is related in some way to the unit named “Strategy.” The same goes for the body copy below, which also includes an image next door – all three pieces form one piece together as if they were explicitly meant for each other!

2-Gestalt principle of closure

When we see a complex arrangement, our eyes search for that one recognizable pattern. We do this to make sense of the chaos around us and bring some form or organization into it via reification:

simplifying what’s missing by filling in pieces so you can understand more about an object from its outline instead of looking at intricate parts without any context whatsoever.

As you can see in this design for OneFund by Mike Erickson, aka Locomotive (not to mention the vast majority of minimal logo designs), we aren’t given all the information needed from one image. I

nstead, we must extrapolate what’s missing using shadows. Otherwise, it would just be a few random blocks with no recognizable features.

3-Gestalt principle of similarity

When the yellow background appears on this web page icon, it makes a connection between two different posts. The fact that they both have an outlined star and share some other qualities, like having similar colors or shapes, can be seen through their differences, too, though- there’s no way you’d mistake these for being related unless something else drew your attention first!

4-Gestalt principle of continuity

This is because lines and curves help us understand relationships too. As you can see in the screenshot above, it’s evident that the dots on this rough ring are closely related to each other — at least more so than they would be if there were no continuity between them or their relationship with one another wasn’t clear from just looking at where these elements sit relative within this overall design space.”

The human brain is a complicated organ, but the good news is? You have control over how much information flows into your mind. By understanding visual perception principles and exploiting people’s natural tendencies when they visit websites, you can create an experience that feels seamless for both users AND designers alike!

Gestalt principles are a great way to elevate any design and help it feel more natural. They can be used in just about every type of situation, no matter how complicated or chaotic they might seem at first glance – even if you’re working with an interface with many different pieces trying their best not to get in each other’s way!

Gestalt principle of Figure

5-Gestalt principle of Figure/Ground

The figure-ground principle is a cool way for you to take advantage of your brain’s processing skills. You’ve probably seen this in memes on social media or as part of logos (like FedEx), but what exactly does it mean? Well, let me show ya! 

The term “figure” refers not only to people imagery such as portraits where there’s an emphasis placed upon them – which would make sense if we’re talking art history 101–but also things like landscapes that have flat surfaces with little detail; these can serve much simpler functions than figures do…though sometimes they may share similar attributes too.

For example, when you look at a picture of your family in the typical Western world we see them as separate individuals with their own sets of facial features. However, if they were all huddled together on one side or another then it would be harder for our eyes to distinguish who was who because everything seemed similar looking so close up!

It turns out that this works similarly within images – objects considered “foreground” will typically stand out from background clutter while those behind serve only ornamental purposes (like providing cover).

6-Gestalt principles in UI design

Negative space has always been a staple of good design. Leaving white around elements in our designs is probably the first thing that comes to mind, but then there are those where you can see an arrow hidden between E and X just waiting for its moment at center stage!

Applying the principles of psychology will help you create more successful designs. This story is about how to use human-centric design, a technique which humans are at its center and every part grows from their needs or desires; this means we should focus on what they care most about when designing our products for them! In addition, learning some theory behind these concepts too, there’s no room left to imagine someone else looking back and wondering why they didn’t know.


Grouping similar elements together can be an effective way of organizing the design. The human mind loves groupings, and will often find patterns where none exist if given sufficient time to savor their finding!

This is especially true when the similarity between items in each grouping offers clues about how they relate–such as color schemes or shapes that form calming/ Majestic figures on paper.

One of the best ways to stand out from your competition is by using different buttons, graphics, or other elements on each page. This will help draw attention and make it easier for people who are browsing through sites with similar offerings to understand which one they want!

In UI design, using similarity makes it clear to your visitors which items are alike. For example, in a features list using repetitive design elements (such as an icon accompanied by 3-4 lines of text), the similarity principle would make it easy to scan through them. In contrast, changing the design elements for features you want to highlight makes them stand out and gives them more importance in the visitor’s perception.


The law of continuity posits that human eyes will follow the smoothest path when viewing lines, regardless if they were originally drawn in a straight line or not.

This means you can use this to your advantage and guide visitors around on pages with important information by making sure it’s positioned accordingly for them!

Since the eye naturally follows a line, placing items in a series in a line will naturally draw the eye from one item to the next. Horizontal sliders are one such example, as are related product listings on sites like Amazon.

9-Symmetry and Order

The law of symmetry and order can be referred to as prägnanz, the German word for “good figure.” It says that your brain will perceive an image in as simple a manner as possible–and if you’re trying not only to catch its attention but also make it understand what emotion or feeling you want to communicate with this piece then keep things tidy!

For example, A monochrome version Olympic logo is made up of overlapping circles rather than curved lines which makes sense because we see more shapes these days so there is less explanation on how everything fits together from the left top right bottom front back.

10-Common Fate

Common fate or Schismatrix as it’s sometimes known has been added to the gestalt theory. This principle enables us in UX design with our understanding of people and their grouping behavior when they come into contact with one another- whether that means moving towards each other (i e cohesive) or away from common directions like toward something blue!

Movements and actions of individual elements within a flock or school create the illusion that they are acting as one. This is a very useful technique for designers who want to create the illusion of movement in their designs. 

Where to use Gestalt Principles?

Gestalt principles can be applied to various aspects of UI/UX design:

  1. Layout Design: Use proximity, similarity, and figure-ground relationships to create organized and visually appealing layouts.
  2. Navigation: Apply proximity and similarity to create intuitive navigation menus and buttons.
  3. Iconography: Use similarity to create consistent icons, ensuring they are easily recognizable and coherent.
  4. Visual Hierarchy: Leverage size, color, and contrast to establish a clear visual hierarchy, guiding users to the essential elements.
  5. Forms and Inputs: Use proximity and alignment to create user-friendly forms, ensuring that related fields are grouped logically.

Gestalt principles in UI design


The Gestalt principles, rooted in Gestalt psychology, propose that we perceive elements as whole forms rather than isolated parts. This theory suggests that our minds naturally organize visual elements into meaningful groups, patterns, and structures.

By understanding Gestalt principles and combining them into your UI UX design process, you can create visually pleasing, highly intuitive, efficient, and user-centered interfaces. The Gestalt principles are a powerful tool in the designer’s toolkit, enabling you to enhance the user experience and create memorable digital products.


What does Gestalt mean?

Gestalt is used in modern German to mean how a thing has been “placed” or “put together.” There is no exact match in English. “Form” and “shape” are the typical translations.

What are the Gestalt Principles of web design?

Ultimately, Gestalt design follows the concept that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. We will cover five fundamental Gestalt principles that can be applied in web design – proximity, similarity, continuation, symmetry, and closure.

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