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The 8 Principles of Design

6-24-2019 - By August van de Ven

Practice design using the design brief generator:

What are design principles?

When you design something, it generally serves a specific purpose. This means that there are some guidelines you should follow to properly communicate this purpose correctly. You certainly don’t have to follow these rules religiously and each guideline has its own interpretation.

1. Balance

Like many things in life, balance is incredibly important for your designs. People are drawn to things that appear more balanced and it will look more pleasing to the eye. It’s often hard to create something balanced from scratch and you have to work to find that balance in your work by moving, adding or removing certain elements until you’ve created that balance. If you can’t find balance in your design, something will look “off”. When you finally find that balance it will be pleasing to look at.

2. Emphasis

When you are working as a designer, it’s generally your job to get some kind of message across. If you are designing ads or posters, you’ll need to learn how to create emphasis on certain elements of the design to get people to look at the most important parts of an ad or poster. You don’t want people to have to search for something in your design that should be viewed first. Important elements should jump out of your design and the background should stay in the background.

3. Contrast

Similar to emphasis, contrast is used to create a difference between the foreground and background. The important elements and the less important, decorative elements. Make sure that text doesn’t blend in with the background by using the right colors and look if the important parts of your design are visible from a distance and for people that have trouble seeing.

4. Proportion

Proportion relates to the visual size and weight of different elements in your design. Resize and group elements together in a way to get the proportions in perfect balance. Proportion relates to real life as well. Draw inspiration to nature and guidelines like to golden ration to get to perfect proportions.

5. Consistency

You should always try to remain consistent when designing. If you don’t try to stay consistent, your design will look cluttered and people will fail to recognize your brand or the brand you work for. Use a select array of fonts and color to remain consistent this way.

6. Variety

Opposite to consistency you will need to think of variety. Try to find a balance between these two. Your design should be perceived as boring to people but also not be overwhelming. For beginning designers, it can be incredibly hard to achieve the right balance between these two. You want to show off all of your design skills but this often leads to the design looking cluttered and overwhelming. Try to set yourself to a maximum amount of colors and font until you become better at finding this balance without effort.

7. Movement

Every design has a path that the viewer’s eyes follow automatically. This path should stay in line with the message you are trying to convey. Most readers will simply read from left to right, top to bottom. However your design is laid out, if you don’t follow this simple path, it’s bound to cause problems.

8. Unity

Lastly, your design should work well as one piece. It shouldn’t look like multiple things put together but rather one thing made out of specific elements. If you follow the principles described above, it should work out to unity.