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Academy Xi Blog

What is visual hierarchy in UX? 7 key principles

By Academy Xi

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When a user has an enjoyable, straight forward experience engaging with an app or website, it’s likely due to those who created the interface having a comprehensive understanding of visual hierarchy within User Experience Design (UX). Let’s take a closer look.

What is visual hierarchy?

The way design elements are arranged to guide the user’s attention and support them in understanding what is being displayed on the app or website is referred to as the visual hierarchy. Visual hierarchy plays an integral role in user-centred design, with seven key principles often being harnessed to support the structure of information architecture – the flow of the content.

The seven key principles of visual hierarchy are:

  1. Size and scale
  2. Colour and contrast
  3. Alignment and spacing
  4. Typography and font
  5. Imagery and iconography
  6. Layout and composition
  7. Movement and animation

#1 Size and scale

Selecting certain design elements to be more dominant in terms of size or scale compared to other aspects can encourage a user’s gaze to focus on specific areas of a screen display, whether that be a mobile, desktop or any other device. Headings and call-to-action buttons are often more prominent, whereas less emphasis is placed on secondary details, which are more likely to be smaller in size and scale. This design principle is one of the most common ways to establish the visual hierarchy in web design and acts as the visual scaffolding for the information architecture.

#2 Colour and contrast

A clear distinction can be made between elements in user interface design by selecting contrasting colours. Implementing this principle can influence the attention of a user, again guiding them in how to interact with the design. Saturated or bright colours usually stand out more than those that are muted, so it makes sense that the most vital elements within the design are bold and vibrant in colour, to ensure they stand out. 

#3 Alignment and spacing

The overall visual organisation of a design relies heavily on alignment and spacing. When design elements are spaced evenly and aligned in a considered way, a sense of calm and order prevails, which makes scanning information easier for users and enables them to quickly comprehend the details. When the alignment and spacing are consistent throughout a website or app, it supports the overall cohesiveness and professionalism of the design, which is best practice for the user experience.

#4 Typography and font

Selecting the right font styles and sizes can greatly impact how a user’s attention is guided, with typography playing a pivotal role in visual hierarchy. Choosing too many fonts can be baffling for a user, but having contrasting typography within a design can support the ideal order of how details should be consumed. For instance, any important details or headings could be in a larger, bolder font, whereas body text can be in a lighter, smaller font to create clarity. Having headings that stand out can also support easier scanning of content, with each heading and subheading providing an overview if not all information is read in full. 

#5 Imagery and iconography

Imagery and iconography can be highly impactful tools that support visual hierarchy, while also conveying meaning. Icons are incredibly helpful and can act as visual signposts that can support users in navigating their journey through an interface, whereas feature imagery can further articulate the key messages of the website, or the mood of a specific aspect. Using consistent icons and image styles throughout an interface is also important in creating visual cohesion, which positively supports the user experience.

#6 Layout and composition

The general behaviour of users needs to be considered when looking at the placement of design elements within an interface. The layout of elements including call-to-action buttons, menus and priority content sections needs to be deliberate, to reflect user expectations and to maximise their experience. If the overall layout and composition of a design is well structured and contains a logical flow, users will ideally engage with the website or app effortlessly. 

#7 Movement and animation

When done well, animations can be the perfect way to guide the attention of users and boost their user experience. But there are a couple of downsides to integrating movement and animation into your interface design. You can run the risk of overwhelming or distracting users with too much movement and animation and there’s also the reality of some graphics taking longer to download, which can create lag time for the user and interfere with their experience of the interface. When in doubt, keep it simple.

The wrap-up

Integrating the seven key principles of visual hierarchy in UX design clearly has many benefits that promote quality user-centred design. When coupled with other tools and approaches of UX design, including user testing, you can continually refine and improve interfaces to ensure that the user is front and centre of all decision-making and modifications, resulting in the best experience possible. 

Ready for your career in UX/UI Design?

Want to learn more about the hierarchy principles of design? Academy Xi has you covered with flexible course delivery that supports those wanting an introduction, through to upskilling, or a complete career change.

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Interested in exploring the world of Graphic Design?

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Academy Xi Blog

How to use grids in interface designs

By Academy Xi

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Keen to create consistent and engaging interface designs that are easy for users to navigate? Welcome to the world of grid layouts.

What is a grid layout?

An essential element of interface design, grid layouts are structures used to organise content into a series of rows and columns, which creates a sense of order and hierarchy. The grid layout helps designers create balanced and visually appealing work and for consumers, this approach is applied to make designs more intuitive and easier to find what they need, whether it be applied to an online or print layout.

Types of grid layouts

While there are many types of grid layouts used by graphic designers, we’re going to check out the five most commonly used.

#1. Responsive grid layout

Frequently used in web design, this layout adjusts the size and position of elements based on the size of the screen or device, ensuring content looks good on everything from a smartphone to a desktop.

#2. Column grid

Popular in print design with newspapers and magazines, the column grid enables a consistent and readable layout, with content being organised into, you guessed it, columns.

#3. Manuscript grid

Based on the proportions of a page, this grid is often used in book design to create a harmonious and balanced layout.

#4. Modular grid

Elements are organised into modules of equal size to create a structured and organised layout.

#5. Baseline grid

This grid aligns elements to horizontal lines and is generally used in typography to create a consistent vertical rhythm and improve readability of text.

What are the benefits of using layout grids in interaction design?

A powerful tool for all designers, but particularly those working on interface designs, layout grids offer a number of great advantages.

Creates clarity and consistency

A layout grid helps designers create a consistent visual language across their designs, making it easier for users to understand and interact with the interface. A consistent layout also ensures that the design is cohesive and looks professional.

Improves design comprehension

By providing a clear design structure, the grid makes it easier for users to understand the interface and how to navigate through it. This is particularly important for complex interfaces that require a lot of user input.

Supports responsiveness

Crucial in today’s mobile first approach, layout grids can support responsive design creation that adapts to different screens and devices.

Speeds up the design process

Clear structure can allow designers to create more efficiently and consistently, with professional results.

Easier modification and reuse

The grid structure enables swift changes to be made if necessary and for the reuse of elements across other interfaces. This can save time and effort for designers and clients.

Facilitates collaboration

Shared language and structure for design can support collaboration between both designers and developers, which in turn supports the creation of effective, user-friendly interfaces.

5 ways to use grid layouts to improve your UI designs

While there are many ways to use grid layouts to support user-centred interface designs, these are the top five to consider.

#1. Customise grids to meet your needs

It’s important to remember that not all grids will work for every project. Confirm your design needs, keeping in mind the type of content you’re working with, the size of the interface and the research you have on the needs of the user.

#2. Focus on flexibility

Ensure your grid layout choice adapts easily across all devices and screens your interface might be accessed on.

#3. Select the right layout tool or generator

With so many tools and generators available on the market, it’s important to choose one that works for your project and design needs. Double check the tool you select offers customisation options and has a user-friendly interface.

#4. Create visual hierarchy

Use your grid to align elements and create balance between positive and negative space, while ensuring there’s a sense of order and structure in your design.

#5. Establish consistency

Key in UI design, a consistent look and feel can be achieved across your entire interface with the help of grid layouts.

Start your UX UI Design journey

Academy Xi UX UI Design courses give you all the practical skills needed to break into the

industry. You’ll learn to place the user’s needs at the centre of the design process, so you can create smooth and functional products that leave a lasting impression.

 Whether you’re looking to upskill and test the waters of the industry, or launch a completely

new career as a UX UI Designer, we’ve got the perfect course for you:

  • UX UI Design: Elevate (Self-Paced) – For upskillers looking to boost their career prospects with in-demand creative capabilities, whilst enjoying the flexibility of self-paced learning.
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Not sure which is the best course for you? Chat to one of our course advisors and we’ll help you break into one of Australia’s most creative industries.

The best work from home career paths to pursue

Academy Xi Blog

The best work from home career paths to pursue in 2023

By Academy Xi

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The best work from home career paths to pursue

A little old global pandemic accelerated the popularity of working from home and it appears to be a trend that’s here to stay. Read on to discover which careers suit the hybrid and 100% remote set up.

Current and future trends in remote work

Remote working offers flexibility for individuals and companies alike – whether you’re a contractor, full or part-time permanent employee. We’ve scoped out some of the current trends and forecasts.

Hybrid working

As organisations have begun the process of reopening their office spaces, hybrid models have grown in popularity as a stepping stone to eventually returning full time, or for some, the promise of continued location flexibility, with a split between time working from home and at HQ.

Distributed teams

Remote arrangements enable companies to hire talent from anywhere around the globe and has resulted in distributed teams becoming more commonplace. This setup could include people being based in different states, countries and timezones and can be logistically challenging, but also enable a wider talent pool to be tapped into.

Remote work technologies

Supporting collaboration between workers in remote teams has meant an increase in tech options including video conferencing, project management software and virtual reality tools that enable teams to feel like they’re in the same room together.

Work-life balance

A major benefit of remote working is the ability to achieve a better balance between personal and professional life. We can expect to see more emphasis on flexible working arrangements in the future as more companies embrace the possibility as a permanent fixture.


With the increase of remote working also comes the influx of cybersecurity threats. Companies are needing to step up network security and train remote workers to follow best practices when it comes to online security.

Why remote work is gaining popularity

Remote work is gaining popularity for several reasons, including flexibility of being able to work anywhere with a decent internet connection, increased productivity and cost savings for both employees and companies alike. There are also environmental benefits with a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions associated with less commuting.

Popular remote and hybrid career paths that are hiring like crazy

The following careers are seeing an increase in hiring for positions that are hybrid and fully remote, making them attractive options for many.

Developer/Software Engineer

As more companies move their operations online, the demand for developers and software engineers has increased. These professionals are responsible for building and maintaining websites, software applications, and other digital products. Skills in programming languages such as Python, Java, and JavaScript are in high demand.

UI/UX Designer

User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) Designers are responsible for creating digital products that are easy to use and visually appealing. They design everything from websites to mobile apps and software interfaces. In addition to technical skills, UI/UX designers need strong soft skills, such as collaboration and communication.

Graphic Designer

Creating visual designs for logos, marketing materials and websites is amongst the mix of a designer’s remit, with the demand expected to continue to grow as companies increasingly invest in their digital marketing efforts. 

Copywriter/Content Producer

Any written content that features on online platforms (think websites, social media, apps) is created by copy and content writers or content producers. Solid writing and editing skills are needed, along with knowledge of SEO and content marketing. 

Social Media Manager

Responsible for creating and executing social media strategies for businesses, social media managers create content, manage social accounts, and analyse engagement metrics. They need to have strong communication and analytical skills, as well as a deep understanding of social media platforms and their algorithms.

Online Marketer

Driving traffic and leads to websites and other digital platforms is the main goal of the online marketer. Strategies such as SEM, SEO, email marketing and social media marketing can all be used to target the key audiences. 

Virtual Assistant

Remote administrative support is provided by virtual assistants, or VAs, with tasks such as managing emails, data entry and customer service being offered. Some VAs may also manage social media channels and other digital marketing tasks, depending on their skillset. 

Website Content Uploader

Website content uploaders are responsible for publishing and managing website content. They may upload blog posts, images, and videos, and ensure that content is properly formatted and optimised for search engines.

Keen to explore a career you can do from home?

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Better still, we offer training for careers that you can do remotely. Get the skills that employers are searching for with practical and industry-relevant courses in:

If you have any questions, our experienced team is here to discuss your training options. Speak to a course advisor and take the first steps in your remote working career journey.

What is GitHub

Academy Xi Blog

What is GitHub and how do Software Engineers use it?

By Academy Xi

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What is GitHub

GitHub is a buzzword in the tech space – it’s the name on every coder’s lips. Maybe you’re wondering ‘What even is GitHub and how do developers use it?’. The short answer – in a multitude of ways. Let’s explore them……

What is GitHub and how do developers use it?

If you enter the searchterm “what is GitHub?” on Google, you’ll be served over 615 million responses. Amongst other things, you’ll be told GitHub is a cloud storage site, a version control system, a social networking site for programmers, and a code-sharing site. 

Does GitHub actually do all these things? It certainly does, and so much more. 

Broadly speaking, GitHub is a cloud-based service designed to help developers store, manage and share code while working on development projects. Crucially, GitHub also helps team members collaborate effectively by tracking and controlling changes to their code, known in the industry as ‘version control’. 

What is Git?

Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s cover the basics. Git was first developed in 2005 by tech figurehead Linus Torvalds, who had already famously created the Linux operating system kernel. 

In a nutshell, Git is a DevOps tool used for source code management that helps to efficiently handle coding and development projects of all shapes and sizes. Git is used to track changes in source code, enabling multiple developers to work together on nonlinear projects without any confusion or conflict. As such, Git is the world’s most popular free and open-source version control system 

So, what’s the difference between Git and GitHub? Good question! Git is used to manage multiple versions of source code edits, which are transferred to files in a Git repository. GitHub serves as a location for all repositories, where all files are uploaded and stored. 

How do version control systems help developers?

Imagine you’re part of a team of developers working on a web application with multiple features. Your app may have a large, complex code base, involving several projects and developers working on different parts of the software.

This type of scenario is quite common and can easily lead to problems:

😬Imagine someone is working on a new feature and something they change breaks the app. How can you “back up” to the most recent working version of the code?

😬Or, there could be some part of the application that overlaps with the work being done by other developers. How can you ensure there are no inconsistencies or conflicts in the code?

The term Version Control System (VCS) describes a type of software that is designed specifically to help manage the potential pitfalls described above. 

Version control keeps a complete history of the changes to the code, which makes it easy to revert to a working state. This gives you the freedom to experiment, throw away bad ideas, and instantly get back to your last-known “good” state if anything breaks (something always breaks, right?!).

There are a number of benefits that come with using a VCS to manage your work:

✔️Automatically creating a backup of your work

✔️Providing an easy way to undo mistakes and restore a previous version of your work

✔️Documenting changes with a log that clearly describes what’s been changed and why

✔️Keeping file names and hierarchies consistent and organised

✔️Breaking off from the source code to work in multiple “sandboxes” (called branches in Git), allowing developers to experiment without impacting other branches

✔️Merging branch code back into the source, once the developer gets his or her part of the code working properly

✔️Collaborating with others without disturbing each other’s work

The world’s most popular VCS software is Git. As you’ve probably guessed, GitHub is the platform that hosts the Git VCS. 

GitHub’s other features and uses

Although GitHub was primarily developed for its version control capabilities, its functionality has evolved with time. A host of handy new features have been added over the years, enabling programmers to use GitHub for a range of vital day-to-day tasks, including:

  • Improved project management

The ‘GitHub Issues’ feature allows you to manage a development project from end-to-end. You can use it to define tasks, track their progress, and communicate with coworkers. This typically involves a description of the coding task, with additional comments, assignees, labels and milestones.

  • Easy file management

GitHub makes managing your files easy-as-pie. When you edit or save a file, Git effectively takes a series of snapshots of it in its various states. Everything that’s happened to your file along the way is captured, meaning you can access it in any state it’s been in. Impressive, huh?! 

  • Increased safety with additional packages

Although GitHub is cloud-based, it incorporates security features that help keep your code and sensitive data secure across the repositories. Many of these features are available as standard with all GitHub plans, but for those projects that demand even tighter levels of security, additional protection is available with GitHub’s Advanced Security packages.

  • Effective team management

GitHub’s project boards can be used to organise and manage a team, enabling you to pull requests, add notes, allocate tasks to team members and assign due dates. You’re also able to arrange cards into columns that enable your entire team to visualise and track workflows and easily understand how a project is progressing as a whole.

  • Simple code hosting

Once you’ve set up your GitHub account, all your code can be placed in a Git repository. You’ll have options on where you choose to host your code, but the simplest way is to do it directly via GitHub. This gives you the convenience of all your code and documentation being hosted in a single location. Beautifully simple!

  • Social Networking

In its essence, GitHub is all about developers working together to complete team projects. This dynamic naturally extends to social networking. Tech professionals all over the world use GitHub to share code and practical advice, showcase their skills, and pitch project ideas. As well as connecting like-minded professionals, this makes GitHub a perfect place to host a portfolio. It’s great for job networking too! 

  • Improved code writing

GitHub doesn’t just facilitate coding projects, it actually has the potential to improve your code writing. You can plug GitHub Copilot directly into your editor and it will convert natural language prompts into coding suggestions across dozens of languages. Trained by billions of lines of code, Copilot’s suggestions are almost always spot-on and will take your coding to the next level.

Want to become a Software Engineer?

At Academy Xi, we offer a range of Software Engineering courses that are designed and delivered by experienced industry professionals. Our hands-on, practical training will take you from beginner to job-ready in a matter of weeks.

You’ll complete all your projects in GitHub and walk away with a GitHub portfolio showcasing your new coding skills to prospective employers. 

Best of all, our Transform courses come with access to a Career Support Program that helps 97% of graduates land their dream role.

To discuss your transferable skills and course options, speak to a friendly course advisor today and take the first steps toward an exciting new career in tech.

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