Make sense of 1.618

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  • Simple explanation

    Draw a line. Divide it in two parts (not equal), and measure them.

    If you divide the longer part by the smaller part, you get the same result as when you add the longer and the smaller part and you divide the result by the longer part.

    Design an aesthetics

    The mathematical approach is inevitable, but it's sometimes off-putting.

    You can think the golden ratio as the perfect number for aesthetics in design, like the best proportion for harmony and beauty.

    Studies have shown our brains prefer objects and images that use the golden ratio.

    The divine proportion could be 1.618

    The golden ratio is a pretty unique number. The never-ending Fibonacci sequence is often used to approximate it.

    The highest Fibonnaci numbers are pushing towards 1.618 or its inverse 0.618 🦄 (quotient of adjacent numbers).

    Many natural phenomenons seem to follow that mathematical pattern!


    Mathematically speaking, it's an irrational number defined in terms of itself, which might be a bit hard to understand:

    Unlike rational numbers, "irrational" numbers cannot be written as a ratio of two integers.

    The result goes on forever. The most popular irrational number is π, for example.

    1.618 in code

    Using CSS grid, we can apply the golden ration to the page layout:

    <div class="container">
        <div class="item a">A</div>
        <div class="item b">B</div>
        <div class="item c">C</div>
        <div class="item d">D</div>
        <div class="item e">E</div>
        <div class="item f">F</div>
        <div class="item g">G</div>

    See for the CSS.

    It's not uncommon to find similar patterns in stylesheets when you inspect the code.

    Open your mind

    The mathematical approach is more accurate by definition, but it does not mean you must use it all the time.

    While it can significantly improve conversion and design, artists usually break the generic law.

    The brain loves proportion, but it needs originality and uniqueness too.

    Thanks for reading this page! Do you believe now in the golden ratio?