Design is an art and science that requires creativity, imagination, and attention to detail. And it is essential to understand its principles to make your projects aesthetically pleasing and functional. There are seven principles of design that every creative professional should master: balance, contrast, emphasis, rhythm, proportion, unity, and movement. In this article, we will delve into each principle and learn how to apply them to create stunning designs, and you can find more about each of them in the detailed guide available on The Designest.
Principle 1: Balance
Balance is one of the most important principles of design. It refers to the distribution of visual weight inside the composition. There are three types of balance: symmetrical, asymmetrical, and radial. Symmetrical balance is when a design is mirrored on both sides. Asymmetrical balance is when a design is balanced, but not mirrored. Radial balance is when a design is balanced around a central point.
To achieve balance, designers use different elements such as color, size, and shape. For instance, a designer can balance a large image with small text or balance a bright color with a neutral color.
Principle 2: Contrast
Contrast is the difference between two elements. It creates visual interest and can be used to draw attention to specific parts of a design. There are several types of contrast, including color contrast, size contrast, and texture contrast.
This is a great way to make a design stand out. For example, a bright color used against a dark background creates contrast and highlights the selected features, like pieces of text, images, or elements of the layout.
Principle 3: Emphasis
Emphasis is also used to highlight a specific part of a design — which is quite evident! It can be achieved by using color, size, shape, or contrast. Emphasis helps set a focal point in a design and guide the viewer’s eye. This principle is often applied to bring attention to a call-to-action button or a headline. To do so, a designer can use a larger font size, animation, or implement other principles, like contrast or proportion.
Principle 4: Rhythm
Rhythm refers to the repetition of design elements in a design. It creates a sense of movement and unity and serves to guide the viewer’s eye. You can make your composition rhythmic through the repetition of color, shape, pattern, or primary elements, like texts, headlines, and images.
Principle 5: Proportion
Proportion shows the relationship between design elements and creates a sense of harmony and balance. Proportion can be used to set a focal point in a composition or to achieve a sense of depth. For instance, a designer can add a larger image or make a non-conventional layout, so the broken (in a positive sense) proportion grabs the eye.
Principle 6: Unity
Unity brings cohesion to the design elements and creates a sense of harmony and balance, much like the proportion principle. Unity can be achieved through the use of shape or texture. Another way to unify the design is to use a consistent color palette or a repeating set of fonts.
Principle 7: Movement
Movement refers to the way a viewer’s eye moves through a design. It serves to create a sense of flow and influence the user’s behavior within a website page or layout. You can achieve movement by taking advantage of visual cues such as lines or shapes.
Apart from the seven principles of design, there is another element that plays a significant role in creating flawless designs, and that is white space. White space is the area that is left empty. It is also known as negative space.
White space is essential because it helps to create a sense of balance and harmony. It provides visual breathing room and allows the design elements to stand out. You can also resort to the white space for a sense of elegance and sophistication. For example, designers add white space around a large image. Or they might leave an area empty to draw attention to a specific design element.
- The principles of design have been around for centuries and were first described by Leonardo da Vinci in his book, “A Treatise on Painting.”
- The use of negative space or white space in design was popularized by Swiss graphic designer, Josef Müller-Brockmann, in the 1950s and 1960s.
- According to a study conducted by Adobe, 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the layout or content is unattractive.
- The use of contrast in design is important for accessibility as it helps people with visual impairments to distinguish between different elements in a design.
- The principles of design can be applied to various forms of design, including graphic design, web design, product design, and interior design.
- The use of rhythm can create a sense of movement and can be used to create a visual hierarchy, guiding the viewer’s eye through a design.
- The use of unity in design can create a sense of consistency and can be used to create a strong brand identity.