January 28, 2022

The 7 design principles and elements | Make the best design now

It is important to view design elements as moving parts that tell a story. You should become familiar with these design principles and elements before beginning a design project. Make design principles balance. After that, only you will be able to break the rules and create your own unique style.

It is imperative that a designer adheres to the design principles and elements in order to create an attractive and effective composition. The emphasis, Balance and Alignment, Contrast, Repetition, Proportion, Movement, and White Space constitute the principles of universal design.

In contrast to art, design has a purpose. Essentially, this translates into making sure an image has a point of focus, a center of attention. You might be thinking designs were all about creativity.

Just starting out as an entrepreneur or designer, you might be tempted to combine the first five typefaces and colors that catch your eye with the idea of coming up with something original. There is a good chance that your design will be confusing, unfinished, or just plain ugly. You need design principles and elements.

As with any discipline, graphic design adheres to strict rules that make the work balanced and stable. In the absence of those design principles (balance), the work will be weak and ineffective.

1. The Emphasis

Emphasis of a ladybug chilling on a leaf.

Imagine you’re designing a poster for a concert. The first thing my audience should know is: what is the most important piece of information? Which band is it? Where are they playing? How much will it cost? Are there any principles of universal design?

Outline your thoughts mentally. Your design should express the order in which your brain arranged information. Put the band’s name in the center or make it the biggest element on the poster if it is the most essential information. You can also make it the boldest type. Utilize color theory and make your brand name stand out by using strong color combinations.

A composition without a clear idea of what you want to convey will fail, just as you can’t write without an outline or build without a blueprint. Design principles and elements can help you.

2. Principles of universal design: Balance and alignment

Balance and aligment in some rocks of the sea

Every element you add to a page has a weight. For example, color, size, or texture can all contribute to weight. You can’t lump all of your heavy elements in one corner of your composition, just like you wouldn’t put all your furniture in one corner of a room. Your audience will feel as if their eyes are sliding off the page if you don’t have balance.

Through the alignment of equally weighted elements on either side of the centerline, symmetrical design creates design principles, their balance. By contrast, asymmetrical design uses opposite weights (like contrast between a large element and a smaller element) to create a design that is not even, but nonetheless aesthetically pleasing.

The asymmetrical design is pleasing to the eye, even if it is occasionally boring. With design principles and elements, an asymmetrical composition can add a real sense of visual interest and movement to your composition.

3. Contrast

Contrast in a photo of a woman

It is the contrast that makes a design "pop" off the page and sticks in your mind. The contrast helps your design stand out. To work harmoniously together and make your elements readable, your background should be quite different from those of your elements.

Typography requires an understanding of contrast, as it means that the weight and size of your type are balanced. The design principles and balance need to unite. When everything is bold, how will your audience know which information is most important?

If you look at examples of really strong, effective design, you’ll notice that only a few typefaces are used. This is due to the fact that contrast can effectively be created using two strong fonts (or even one strong typeface in different weights). If you add too many fonts, your design will be diluted and confused. You need design principles and elements for doing things like this:

4. Principles of universal design: Repetition

You may soon find that some elements have to be repeated if you restrict yourself to just two typefaces or three colors. Repeating a design can unify and strengthen it. It may appear as if your band poster is incorrect if one thing is in blue italic sans-serif. In this case, three things in blue italic sans-serif form a motif, and you’re back in charge again.

Repetition of flowers, one of the principles of universal design

A printed product can be repeated more than once. Presently, packaging designs heavily incorporate patterned illustrations. Startup companies know one of the first things they need is a strong logo to use on their website, business cards, social media, and more. What is your brand identity? Another way of saying repetition is that needs design principles and elements.

5. Proportion

In terms of design principles and elements, the compositional proportion is how elements in a composition are sized and weighted relative to each other. Rather than approaching your design as a whole, it often helps to break it down into parts.

Proportion in a asian building.

You could place a search box at the side of your website or a box for ticket information at the bottom of your poster to highlight related items. The proportions of your design can only be achieved if they are all well-sized and thoughtfully positioned. You should have no problem discovering proportion once you master alignment, balance, and contrast.

6. Principles of universal design: Movement

Let’s return to our concert poster. How would you communicate the band’s importance on your page, and the venue’s importance on the page, to your audience?

Waves that reproduce movement, important in the design principles and elements

A composition’s movement is designed to guide the eye from one element to another while conveying the information to your audience efficiently. It’s the movement that tells the story of your work: there’s an event, it’s at this place and time, here’s how you can get tickets. While the elements above will help you achieve that goal, it is still impossible to achieve it without proper movement.

In the event that your eye gets caught on anything in your design-an an element that is too big, too bold, slightly off-center, or not a complementary color-go back and adjust it until it is in harmony.

7. White space. Uncommon in design principles and elements?

In all of the other elements, you are responsible for adding content to your design. The only one that deals specifically with what isn’t added is white space (or negative space). 

White space in design part of design principles and elements

In your composition, the white space is just what it sounds like: an empty space around the elements. New designers often find it intimidating. The most effective way to upgrade a composition from mediocre to successful is to give it more room to breathe.

Hierarchy and organization are created by white space, which is not doing anything. We naturally associate white space around an element as being important and luxurious. It is a way of telling our eyes which objects are in one region and which are in another.

Moreover, it can even convey a completely different image or idea from your main design, which rewards your audience for engaging with it. It can be Fun a design with principles and elements.

Using the design principles and elements

Some absolutely mind-blowing designs ignore one or more of these rules while still creating eye-catching and effective designs, necessary for the principles of universal design.

It is important to view design elements as moving parts that tell a story. You should become familiar with these design principles and elements before beginning a design project. Make design principles balance. After that, only you will be able to break the rules and create your own unique style.

Do you think there are any principles of universal design? Did you learn about design principles and elements? Give balance to your mark in designs and read more here:

From a line on a piece of paper to a final product, the story unfolds from the earliest ideas to individual integrity and strong identity.
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