Design is a lot about making an idea look visually pleasing as well as sensible for the user. If you ask different designers about how many elements and principles of design there are, you may receive different answers. Some may say ten; others may only follow six or seven. Due to this, it becomes confusing for novice designers to understand which design principles to follow and what to leave. However, one thing is certain; no designer will ask you to limit the number of design principles you implement. In addition, they will not argue much about which ones to include.
So, in reality, there are around a dozen of principles of design. These are essential for both beginners and seasoned designers. Some may even call these the basic principles of design. But, besides them, there are also some ‘secondary’ principles of design that may hold equal importance as the primary ones for some web designing companies. Though we will briefly discuss this again, let us now dive straight into the primary elements and principles of design.
The design community has not yet agreed upon a definite number of principles of design. The reason why basic principles are called primary ones is that they are the most implemented design principles. With that said, let us have a closer look at these key principles of design.
One of the most important graphic design principles is balance. When we look at a visual, all the elements, be it color, typography, shapes, images, patterns, etc., have a certain weight distributed across. The element that catches our attention the most is the one with the most weight. Therefore, the arrangement of these elements is responsible for the sense of balance viewers feel looking at the overall screen or visual. Balance is typically divided into two broad categories, i.e., symmetrical and asymmetrical balance. The prior aligns the elements having equal weights as per a center line. Asymmetrical balance aligns elements having different weights with respect to a line that is not the center of the overall design.
Now that everyone can edit pictures on their phone, you must be familiar with this element or principle of design. Basically, contrast is responsible for the popping or dulling of a visual. The difference between elements of a graphic, particularly adjacent elements, depends on contrast. So, the design principle can determine how and which elements of a visual will stand out. Moreover, contrast can also help you make your design more accessible. For example, people having visual disabilities may not properly see or understand the content and other elements in a design because of poor use of contrast.
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This UX design principle deals with elements that need to stand out. This could mean the most crucial message that needs to be conveyed through the design. So highlighting or suppressing the impact of elements depends on emphasis. It becomes essential, particularly in designs where primary information is delivered through prints or visuals. On the other hand, when a graphic has to deemphasize an element, it can be added as tiny typography carrying minimal weight in the overall design.
Again, this principle of design majorly impacts the importance of various elements in a visual. It is a deciding factor in how users process the information given in a design. Using headings and titles can set the hierarchy of a website or webpage. The title should be bold, big, or different from other texts and images so that the user can recognize it as an important element of the page. Similarly, subheadings and body text must be arranged with respect to the title to create a hierarchy for the overall design.
Proportion is one of the most straightforward principles of design. It determines the size or space elements consume in a visual concerning each other. It simply signifies that elements consuming larger space or those that are bigger in size are more important than the smaller ones.
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A convenient and interesting principle of design is repetition. It’s an excellent way for the designer to drag user attention to the core idea. In addition, it can unite the entire design by bringing together various elements. The most amazing aspect of using this web design principle is that it can be easily applied. All you have to do is repeat typography, colors, shapes, or other impactful elements of your design. Consistent elements in repetition throughout a design can offer the user a sense of alignment and, in some cases, accentuate navigation.
The spaces left between different elements can create a sense of rhythm for the user. Rhythm is a highly artistic web design principle as it is similar to music notes. Typically, there are five categories of rhythms followed in graphic and UI designs- regular, random, alternating, progressive, and flowing.
Random rhythms have no perceptive space patterns like regular rhythms that use equal spacing between elements to create a rhythmic effect.
Alternating rhythms also use spacing but in a different order or pattern, like music notes. On the other hand, flowy rhythms use curves and turn to depict a flow in the design. Lastly, progressive rhythms carry variations, with each variation carrying something extra from the previous rhythm.
The empty space you see, having nothing, is the white space. Also known as negative space, the no element or effectively white area holds a great deal of relevance. Many new designers may feel the urge to cover every part of the screen. They undervalue the power of this simple web design principle.
Besides giving a neat and clean look and paving the way for minimalism, white space can allow your design to look open and more breathable. In addition, empty spaces help highlight the vivid pixels. Therefore, a designer can highlight text or images by using white space efficiently.
Have you seen how old magazines and newspapers used to clutter content without aligning elements in the design? Though those were old times when people had little knowledge of design, some websites still do not pay attention to how they place elements without creating a sense of harmony among them. Unity means creating a relationship between the elements you use in a design to make them look like parts of a bigger whole. It ensures that the underlying idea of the design is being communicated in a cohesive manner. Using this web design principle will make your website or app development and design look organized, impactful, and of high quality.
This principle of design is all about creating visual interest. You can use this element to break the monotony of design and bring something new for the users. Websites that seem dull or boring can add variety to gain user interest. Designers can use variations in font, colors, shapes, images, and more to use this UX design principle. However, they should aim to reinforce different elements of their design while using variety. If used smartly, variety can shoot two birds together by making the design aesthetically pleasing and optimizing the user experience.
Other than the above-discussed ten principles of design, there are various other elements that can fall into this category. Typography, Gestalt principle, color, grid and alignment, and more are additional principles necessary to create stylish designs. Still, claiming a few as fundamental or basic principles of design is debatable. However, it’s better to learn about the application of each web design principle.
Researching the previous work of designers who have used these principles is a great way to structure them in your designs. It’s possible to create an excellent design without knowing these design principles. But that can rarely happen, out of chance or luck. Thus, it is better to study well-known design principles and practice them to save time and energy.
September 8, 2022
October 31, 2022