How Shapes Affect User Engagement and Brand Image


Creating a visually appealing and user-friendly website is crucial in the ever-evolving world of web design. While many designers focus on colour schemes, typography, and imagery, the importance of shapes in web design is often overlooked.

Shapes, whether sharp-edged or curved, play a significant role in shaping (pun intended) user perceptions and behaviours. This blog explores how different geometries influence user engagement and brand image, highlighting why shape matters in web design.

The Psychological Impact of Shapes

Shapes can evoke various emotional responses and perceptions. The psychological impact of different geometries is well-documented in design theory. Sharp, angular shapes often convey a sense of professionalism, stability, and efficiency. In contrast, curved shapes are associated with friendliness, approachability, and creativity. But the world of shapes extends beyond these two categories, with each form offering unique contributions to a website’s overall feel and functionality.

Sharp Corners: Precision and Professionalism

Sharp corners and straight lines are often used to convey precision and professionalism. Websites for corporate businesses, financial institutions, and technology firms frequently utilise these shapes to project a sense of reliability and order. Sharp-edged designs can make a website appear more structured and efficient, appealing to users who prioritise clarity and straightforwardness.

However, while sharp corners can convey authority and stability, they can also come across as rigid or unapproachable if not balanced with other design elements. It’s essential to strike the right balance to avoid alienating users who might perceive the site as too cold or impersonal.

Curved Shapes: Warmth and Approachability

Curved shapes, on the other hand, are perceived as more welcoming and approachable. They evoke a sense of ease and friendliness, making them ideal for websites that aim to create a warm and inviting atmosphere. Brands that want to connect with their audience on a personal level, such as those in the health and wellness industry, often use curved designs to make their sites more engaging.

Curves can also suggest movement and dynamism, adding a sense of flow and continuity to a website. This can enhance the user experience by guiding the eye naturally through the content, creating a more intuitive navigation path.

Triangles: Direction and Action

Triangles are powerful shapes in web design due to their ability to convey direction and action. They can be used to draw attention to specific areas or elements on a page, acting as arrows or pointers. This directional quality makes triangles ideal for call-to-action buttons, navigation indicators, and infographics. They introduce a sense of movement and urgency, encouraging users to interact with the site more dynamically.

Circles: Unity and Focus

Circles, with their continuous, unbroken lines, symbolise unity, wholeness, and infinity. They naturally draw the eye to their centre, making them effective for highlighting key features or focal points. Circles are often used for buttons, icons, and logos to create a sense of completeness and inclusivity. Their smooth, rounded form also adds a touch of softness and approachability to a design, balancing out more angular elements.

Rectangles and Squares: Stability and Structure

Rectangles and squares are the foundation of most web layouts. They signify stability, trust, and professionalism, making them ideal for structuring content and ensuring readability. Their straightforward shape facilitates the organisation of information, helping users navigate the site with ease. While they are essential for creating a clear and orderly layout, it’s important to combine them with other shapes to prevent the design from becoming too monotonous or rigid.

Organic Shapes: Spontaneity and Creativity

Organic shapes mimic the irregular, flowing forms found in nature. They add a sense of spontaneity and creativity, breaking the rigidity of grid layouts and introducing a more dynamic and engaging aesthetic. These shapes are particularly effective in creating a unique and memorable brand identity, appealing to users who appreciate originality and innovation. By incorporating organic shapes, designers can infuse a website with a sense of life and movement, making it more captivating and enjoyable to explore.

Case Studies: Sharp vs. Curved

Sharp Geometries on BBC News

Consider the website of a prominent institution, such as BBC News. The use of sharp corners, straight lines, and a grid-based layout immediately conveys a sense of order and professionalism. The navigation is straightforward, and the overall design reinforces the brand’s reliability and authority. Users visiting such a site are likely to feel confident in BBC News’ ability to provide the latest important and factual information.

BBC News homepage.

Curved Geometries on Cooper Events

Contrast this with the website for an antique fair organiser, Cooper Events. Cooper Events’ strategic use of rounded shapes on their website conveys approachability and warmth, aligning with their brand values of community and positive engagement. This design choice, paired with photos of smiling individuals, creates an inviting online presence that resonates well with their audience, encouraging deeper interaction and fostering a sense of connection.

News page for antique fair organiser, Cooper Events.

The Role of Geometries in User Engagement

User engagement is a critical metric for any website, influencing everything from time spent on the site to conversion rates. The geometries used in web design can significantly affect how users interact with a website.

Enhancing User Experience with Curves

Curved shapes can enhance user experience by creating a more natural and intuitive flow. They can guide users through the site seamlessly, reducing friction and making navigation more enjoyable. For example, rounded buttons are often perceived as more clickable and inviting, encouraging users to take action.

Encouraging Interaction with Sharp Edges

Sharp edges can also play a role in user engagement, particularly in contexts where precision and clarity are paramount. For instance, in a data-driven application, sharp lines and corners can help delineate information clearly, making it easier for users to understand complex data sets. The key is to use sharp geometries to enhance clarity without sacrificing approachability.

Balancing Shapes for Optimal Design

While it’s essential to consider the psychological impact of shapes, the best web designs often balance sharp and curved geometries to create a harmonious user experience. This balance ensures that a website is both engaging and professional, appealing to a broader audience.

Integrating Shapes Harmoniously

A well-designed website might use sharp corners for structural elements such as headers and navigation bars, providing clarity and order. At the same time, it can incorporate curves in buttons, icons, and imagery to soften the overall aesthetic and enhance approachability. Additionally, incorporating triangles for directional cues, circles for focal points, and organic shapes for creativity can create a dynamic and engaging user experience that leverages the strengths of all these geometries.

Testing and Iteration

As with any design element, it’s crucial to test different geometries to see how they affect user engagement and perception. A/B testing can be an effective way to determine which shapes resonate best with your audience. By iterating based on user feedback, designers can fine-tune their approach to create the most effective design.


In conclusion, the geometries used in web design have a profound impact on user engagement and brand image. Sharp corners can convey professionalism and precision, while curved shapes can create a sense of warmth and approachability. Triangles add direction and action, circles suggest unity and focus, rectangles and squares provide stability and structure, and organic shapes introduce spontaneity and creativity.

By understanding the psychological effects of different shapes and integrating them thoughtfully, designers can craft websites that not only look appealing but also engage users effectively. Balancing these geometries is key to creating a cohesive and dynamic user experience. As web design continues to evolve, the subtle power of shapes will remain a critical tool in the designer’s arsenal, shaping how users perceive and interact with digital spaces. So, next time you embark on a web design project, remember: shape matters.

Posted on 9th Jul 2024