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Dec 16, 2021   |   by Jaya Mehta

13 Design Principles - Fundamental Values that Help You Achieve Better Results

What do you pay attention to when you see any design? Do you focus on its colour palettes or emphasize the design pattern? But have you ever thought about what goes behind bars? Well, every design consists of some basic elements and follows a journey path to convey some message. The Path of “Principles of Design”: the foundational rules that work beneath the surface to keep the design solid and balanced. Ultimately the goal of each design is to engage with its viewers, and probably you don’t want to risk missing these principles of design to create a masterpiece. 

So, in this article, we will briefly understand the 13 Principles of Design and explain why it’s important for design and users. The main aim is to provide you with practicable suggestions and develop an eye for improving the performance of the design.

What are Principles of Design?

The Principles of Design is the set of concepts that form the foundation of any good product. The main purpose of these factors is to guide the designer team to employ the aspects of design elements in their creation and make the best judgments possible. These principles of design are not limited to image creation but can be utilized while designing UI /UX, web designing, graphic designing or any sort of designing work.

Why are Principles of Design Important?

The Principles of Design consist of varied compositions to make the image appear exotic. When one or more principles are combined in the right proportion, it can garner a positive response from the user. The structure of our designs is determined by how we put objects on the page, which in return influences overall readability and decides how well our design communicates the desired message. These design principles govern the placement and structure.

In short, the foundational theories that make a piece of visual artwork appealing are sketched out in these design principles. And one interesting fact about these principles is that they are not readily noticed yet most important for impressive design.

Okay, too much talking; let’s jump to our main part and discuss the key design principles.

13 Key Elements and Principles of Design 

Balance

Each element in the design holds some weightage, and obviously, we would avoid crowding a particular space with all the elements. Therefore here comes the principle of Balance which is the even distribution of elements throughout the design. But don’t get confused with the fact that you need to use the same size for all elements. No!! That’s not the case. The Principle of Design defines balance in two ways: 

  • Symmetrical Balance – elements are similar on both sides of the design.
  • Asymmetrical Balance– elements are different but still balanced and stable on both sides of the design.
  • Radial Balance– similarity around the central point.

Contrast

Contrast means something opposite in nature. With the help of contrast, designers try to bind two opposite things together in a cohesive manner to draw the crux of the message and add significance to it. Some common examples of contrast are black and white, traditional and modern, lean and bold. No matter what strategy you choose to apply this design principle’s basic aim of emphasizing, the element will remain the same.

Emphasis

Emphasis is one of the most interesting parts of the design; it is the element that grabs the viewer’s attention. The emphasis part totally depends on the artist’s element to make it stand out. Typically they contrast one region with another or use size, texture, lines, pattern, mass or colour to grab the attention.  To create emphasis in your design, ask yourself the most important information you need to present to your audience? Draw an outline and map things together.

Space 

In Design, space is a perilous zone, and professional designers know how to utilize this space. And giving design proper space to breathe can transform it into a masterpiece.

  • Positive Space – The space occupied by the object and important elements. 
  • Negative Space – The space between the objects, commonly referred to as white space. 

Alignment 

I am pretty sure everybody must have heard the word alignment in their lives, but what value does it create in design or art? Let’s understand that. Alignment or arrangement in design principle is a correlative position of objects with one another. It ensures that various elements have a desirable link with one another to create a synchronized appearance. 

Hierarchy

This principle of design play a major role when there are multiple visual elements in a sketch and make sure that there is a need to give extra detail of attention to an important message or element of the design. A designer can accomplish this in myriad forms, for example, by making fonts size larger or using some shape to highlight the important part.

Movement

In design, movement signifies different with its literal meaning of motion. The path viewers take to reach the focal area of design over the piece of art is known as a movement. Elements are composed so that they create a path for the eye to lead from one to the next, and the information is transmitted adequately. Designers generally use curved waves or diagonal to create a motion and appearance.

Pattern

Human nature to detect patterns is well known and using this trick; patterns are created in design to attract attention. The repetition of an object throughout the composition creates patterns. It can be utilised to achieve a sense of harmony, uniformly organise surfaces, or generate contrast.

Repetition 

It resonated with pattern and established consistency which hooks the overall design together and makes it more meaningful. The objective of this design principle is to make the presence of your brand in people’s minds. If you want to make your design predictable, then use this design principle, which aims to strengthen and unify the design. 

Proportion

The number of elements used in proportionate with each other contributes to the proportion factor of design principles. Take it this way when making a penne pasta; the amount of sauce used is proportionate to the amount of penne (pasta) to make the pasta delicious is the importance of proportion. Similarly, in design, elements should be used proportionately to create an appealing look.

Rhythm

What comes to your mind when you see or hear the word Rhythm? Let us see what meaning it hold in design? Rhythm is recognized as a strong, regular repeated pattern or element to create a sense of coordinated movement. It is the same as the music you hear or dance you do. The five different types of rhythm are as follows –  

  • Regular – no variation and follow same spacing system among the elements
  • Random – have no visible pattern
  • Progressive – Changes added with the previous iteration
  • Flowing – curve and bends creating motion look
  • Alternating – set of elements that repeat with some variation

Variety 

The integration of the different facets of design to leverage the viewer’s attention to walk them through the art is regarded as variety. Color, typography, images, forms, and nearly any other design element can all be used to generate variety. But it should be remembered that variety should not be forced into the design; it should create harmony among each other to create a pleasing and aesthetical design.

Unity 

The consonance of what we say compatibility between pieces of art creating a sense of completion is what attributes to unity. Unity also ensures that concepts be delivered clearly and consistently. Compared to designs with poor unity, designs with good unity appear to be more organized, high-quality, and authoritative.

Conclusion

Involving all these elements together help in creating a beautiful design; for example, variety is necessary to keep rhythm lively and exciting. Similarly, emphasis is achieved by following the movement. Repetition of patterns causes synchronized alignments of symbols. Balance and proportion lead to the completeness of the design or art, or what we say a complete unit of design. Apart from this, it is also necessary to keep one eye on the user and create according to them. 

Before you jump out of this page, I have a question for you; what do you think is the common thread that runs through all of these principles? It’s the designer approach to the particular design. Identifying these essential design principles is the first step in establishing a visual sense. Asking questions like what makes your user engage with design? What is the unique element of the design? What is wrong with this particular design? Try to find the answer to these questions, and soon you will sail towards the innovative designs that drive results.