Alignment as a design tool

I was reminded this morning just how important alignment is as a design tool – as a way of making design elements look as though they belong together (and communicate the same message).

I was at Hoyts – watching the endless pre-session ads before being captured by Puss in Boots (one of the joys of this school holidays!). Every time the Hoyts logo appeared on the screen, it bothered me.

The logo is the Hoyts name, with little red boxes on the left, and the URL printed underneath with a little open red square at the end to fill in the space. But the second line (with the URL and red square) appears to be just slightly longer than the first line (with the Hoyts name). On my printed ticket, they also appeared slightly out.

It could just be a hairline difference, and it could even be an illusion created by the open red square. But to my eye it looks just slightly unfinished – just slightly messy. As though the URL was added as an afterthought.

Good alignment – either perfect mathematical alignment or, better still, alignment that works for the eye – is one of those designer finishers that you only notice when it’s out. But it makes all the difference – in terms of making separate design elements part of the one design.