Gutenberg Diagram — Why you should know it and use it

About Gutenberg Diagram

In the daily chores of life, we all tend to follow a certain pattern to complete our designated works or commitments. Be it in our professional field or personal space, a proper system or manner is of utmost importance because, without an organized plan of action, life would turn disoriented and go haywire. Similarly, even in our reading activity, more so our eyes have a pattern of their own which moves as per the lines and helps in gathering information. The very general pattern in which our eyes move while looking at evenly distributed information or text-heavy content in the pages of a novel or a newspaper is known as the Gutenberg Diagram. 

Patterns like Gutenberg Diagram provide advice on where to place all the important information, special news bulletins, articles so that they catch the attention of the readers while reading in the western manner of reading from left to right and top to bottom. This rule of Gutenberg is used for the purpose of expressing the user behavior which is also termed as the ‘reading gravity. There are several other layout patterns that take advantage of the way people scan through designs or documents.

The layouts of a page or any reading script are divided into four sections, which are-

  1. Primary Optical Area that is located at the top-left corner

The top left portion is where the user’s primary focus lies. The eyes will automatically focus on that part whether the user is searching for something, reading or just scanning the page.

  • Strong Fallow Area that is located at the top-right corner

The next stage of the reading gravity is to move to the top right part of the page. It is more or less a follow-up from the left portion but less vital but if there is something important or any call to action then the user might pause and act upon it.

  • Weak Fallow Area that is located in the bottom-left corner

The bottom left part of a page is considered as the blind section of the Gutenberg Diagram. That portion is readable but the user usually does not notice or give much importance to all the contents in this portion, whatever may it be.

  • Terminal Area that is located in the bottom-right corner

Usually, there occurs a break in the process of reading and scanning the page when the reader while reading reaches at the bottom right corner of the page because the user is needed to take an action at that point. The ‘terminal area’ is considered to be the perfect spot to insert call-to-action such as links, forms, videos, and so on.

Apart from the Gutenberg Diagram, there are two other designs or patterns which are most commonly used during the reader’s reading gravity or scanning of a page or document. They are:

  1. The Z-Pattern Layout

The z-pattern layout as the name suggests is the shape of the letter ‘Z’. Readers start from the top-left part of a page, moving horizontally to the top-right part and then slantwise to the bottom-left part of the content before finishing the process with another parallel movement to the bottom-right. Although under the same category, the z-pattern layout is often termed as a reverse-s-pattern, indicating more of a curved path in contrast to the hard textured path. The actual difference between the Gutenberg diagram and the z-pattern is – according to the latter, readers will pass through the two fallow areas whereas with the Gutenberg a designer or reader would place the most vital and wanted information along the pattern’s path. This z-pattern design layout is well suited for any kind of simple design with a few key elements as well as any design having that storytelling aspect.

  1. The F-Pattern Layout 

It is very often that the f-pattern layout is often mentioned on the web as of course as the name suggests, it surely follows the shape of the letter ‘F’. In the f-pattern design layout, eyes of the readers start from the top-left corner, moving in a straight line to the top-right corner and then again move downwards to the left corner and make another horizontal movement to the right edge but this second reading pattern does not usually extend like the first one and stops at a little less distance. In most cases, the eyes make less sweeping movements to the right part and remain stuck onto the left edge and keep moving down, as per the layout. Therefore, this design layout puts forward certain instructions such as:

  • Information that is vital or valuable, must be placed across the top portion of the design where it will be paid attention to and read carefully.
  • Information that is less valuable or of less importance, is supposed to be placed along the left part of the design layout. They can be placed in bullet points as well, where slight parallel eye movement is required to absorb and grasp all the information.
  • On digital platforms, there are hardly any people who read news or articles, all they do is scan them thoroughly. 

The f-pattern layout is mainly applied to the online mode, web pages instead of only text-heavy designs. While applying the f-pattern layout, it should be kept in mind the way the page must be designed along the left side in order to pull in interested people. However, if a person is scanning the page and is intrigued to find out more about the news, then they will read the whole page irrespective of the design, so information can still be put outside the f-pattern layout.

Significance of Gutenberg Diagram in Web Design

The Gutenberg Diagram or Rule is basically the method of knowing the user behavior which is known as ‘reading gravity’, It is for the purpose of understanding the western habit of reading left-to-right, top-to-bottom, how different cultures visual navigate a composition, and how to optimize a layout as the outcome.

Several times it happens in a way that we automatically move our eyes from the top left portion of the page to the bottom right since we are trained to read in that manner. Knowing the user behavior and eye movement gravity, designs can really have a much more effective and proper layout since information ranking and optical prominence are essential parts of such designs.

The Gutenberg Diagram helps a big-time by making the designers understand the concept and layout by working with the diagram. The designers become advantageous as it also in a way helps them to increase the effectiveness of the web designs. By putting the logo in the top left corner of the screens, probably enhance the efficacy of web convention more since the users are going to see the logos first, and also it helps in branding the website.


Since it is already known that the bottom left and top right quadrants are going to receive the minimum visual attention, less important elements can be put in those areas so that even if the users do not sweep over that part, they do not miss out on important news. Usually, web conventions put secondary navigation links in that area, such as client logins, RSS feeds, and so on. This is where the perfect usage of the Gutenberg diagram comes in the scenario as such secondary navigation is not as vital as the primary navigation. However, users searching for it can find and use it when required.


While designing the page the designer might consider placing more important visuals into the part of the diagram, as the layout goes. So when they get an opportunity to improve their designs and increase the potency, crucial information and contents are put on the right side of the layout rather than the left-aligned method. They place important write-ups in a right-aligned manner, that is, they swipe contents with an image from left to right and vice-versa to put greater prominence on one another.

Significance of Gutenberg Diagram in digital marketing

The Gutenberg Diagram is a process that has been proved a long time back on the basis of its successful website designs. It is considered to be the backbone of many web pages, from registration pages on Facebook to pages of many online publications with detailed contents. 

The Gutenberg Diagram is of great help in the field of digital marketing as well. It helps the marketers to understand the reading patterns of the users who visit their websites, scan through them and accordingly place the vital information in the portions where they will be effective and paid attention to. The Gutenberg Diagram layout is applied to users who have a really genuine interest in the contents of the page. For example – if a user is looking at a diagram image on a page after reading the above headings, then that is an inverted Gutenberg Diagram whereas if the person is looking for any product on the primary pattern or on the product listing pages, then that will be the mainstream Gutenberg Diagram. But if the user is trying to decipher or find out any information and a search engine comes up with numerous articles, then the F-shaped pattern comes in the scenario, when visiting those pages trying to find fast and solid references.

Conclusion The Gutenberg Diagram brings in an element of sophistication and simplification to the website or web page designs. If the concept of the visual emphasis and weight is grasped properly then how a user looks at a design can be changed in a momentous way. However, this whole idea of the Gutenberg diagram layout is that the marketers shall use the design for their own advantage and use their habitual way of looking at any other design to solidify the layout and its composition. In the era of web visits through smartphones over desktop visits, the designs of those websites or pages must now be energetic and vibrant. Therefore, the Gutenberg Diagram concludes to consider how contents are viewed through cell phones. Having said that, this particular design layout has a place and scope in providing a proficient framework and effectiveness to website designing in the upcoming years.

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

Leave a Comment

Copyright @ Techwala 2019 All rights reserved

Open chat
How can we help you?