Z-Pattern

Chris Badura
3 min readJan 3, 2024

A good designer understands how users browse and process information online. They also recognize that website content is typically scanned rather than read in detail, with many elements being skipped. People scan content in various ways, analyzing the overall layout and focusing on individual elements that interest them. By understanding how content is scanned, designers can make better design decisions and place the most important elements on the page in a way that catches users’ attention.

What are patterns and what are their types? I have already written about it in the article titled “Patterns — in general.” Today, I would like to introduce you to one of them, namely (as you can guess from the title) the Z-pattern. Designing a webpage in accordance with this pattern is one of the fundamental ways designers can engage users and draw attention to the most important elements of the page.

Why Z?

Following the path of the letter “Z,” we can see that it is the natural path the user’s eye takes when reading. This pattern starts from the left side to the right, then moves from top to bottom, forming the shape of the letter “Z.” It means that while reading, people draw an invisible horizontal line from the left to the right corner, and then, to return to the left corner, their gaze moves diagonally before shifting from the left side to the right again.

In which projects should the Z-pattern be used?

Creating a website using the Z-pattern helps designers establish a visual hierarchy that users are likely to follow. Therefore, this pattern is an excellent layout option for landing pages and advertising pages. Why? Because this pattern should contain minimal content but very clear messages that capture users’ attention and urge them to take action.

Designing according to the Z-pattern

Firstly, you need to ensure that the upper horizontal line (the top line of the Z) contains the elements that your audience should focus on first. On the diagonal line, place information related to the main call to action (CTA). The last line should contain the most prominent and compelling elements that encourage action. By creating landing pages based on the Z-pattern layout, we can increase conversions as we have partial control over how the user’s eyes move and which elements capture their attention.

One Z doesn’t end it all

Sometimes, the Z-pattern doesn’t end with just a single “Z” — it can be extended, creating a series of “Z’s.” This scheme is also known as Zig-Zag. This way, a series of patterns is formed instead of a single large pattern. It resembles traditional reading style as the reader continues moving to the right, then slightly downward and back to the left before starting the next horizontal rightward movement.

The Golden Triangle Pattern

This is another pattern derived from the Z-pattern. If we take the first horizontal and the first diagonal movement and then close the shape, we obtain a triangle with its right-angle at the upper-left corner. When we have a triangular area positioned at the top of the page, it designates the most visible area. According to this pattern, the most important information should be placed inside this triangle.

Lastly, I must add that your task as a designer is to understand your audience and future users. Your goal is not only to design beautiful and impressive interfaces (although you can fulfill those requirements as well), but primarily to make them effective. Also, remember to conduct research — here, eye-tracking solutions can help us. Eye-tracking allows you to create a heatmap and visualize users’ focus. This way, you can check if you have successfully applied an effective pattern and if your users are indeed focusing their gaze on the elements that mattered most to you.

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Chris Badura

UXUI Expert, Coach, Founder of AkademiaUXUI, Editor-in-chief Product Design Magazine, UXUI Books Author, Blogger chrisbadura.com