Understanding the Basics of Design Principles

Design is an essential part of any project, whether it's a website, a poster, or a product. To create a successful design, it's important to understand the basic principles of design. Alignment, repetition, contrast, and hierarchy are all key elements that can help create visually appealing and functional designs. Alignment is one of the most basic but most important principles of design.

It allows our eyes to see the order in a design, which is quite comforting for the reader. Aligning the elements together so that each element has a visual connection to something else on the page tightens a layout and eliminates the cluttered and cluttered effect that occurs when you place the elements randomly. For example, in this menu design for a family coffee shop from Motyw Studio, the rate aligns to the left, while all prices are aligned to the right. Alignment extends across multiple pages of the menu so that images, headers, and information are always aligned.

This creates a visual connection between the elements, simplifies the design and ensures that the viewer always knows where to find the information they are looking for. Repetition is another important principle of design. By repeating elements of a design, you immediately create a familiarity or identity. Repetition is an important factor in the unity of multi-page documents.

When looking at a post, it should be immediately obvious that p, 5 and p, 10 belong to the same publication, whether because of the grid, font style, font size, color, spatial relationships, etc. Repetition can also be used to create graphical elements such as patterns as long as it doesn't become overwhelming; be aware of contrast. For example, in this example of visual identity design for Fort Point Beer by Manual, repetition is vitally important in creating brand recognition. The company is trying to create a strong sense of recognition and the repetition of the pattern and style of illustration at different points of contact with the consumer creates great consistency and brand awareness.

Contrast is another key principle of design. It provides the reader with a guide on where to look first; what is the most important point? What stands out the most? In contrast to work, it must be loud and obvious. Our eyes like contrast; don't make differences look like a mistake. To make an impact, the differences must be obvious and extreme.

For example, in this example from Notebook II by Imprimerie du Marais, the contrast between the deep blue on the outer packaging and the bright orange touch on the inside is intriguing and entices the viewer to open the box. Once they do, a greater contrast is revealed between the minimalist exterior and the heavily patterned contents. Both add a sense of pleasure when unpacking the item. Hierarchy is another important principle of design. It creates a visual organization for a design and gives the reader an idea of where to start and end their reading.

Each element that is part of the design can be given a priority ranking so that designers can make decisions about position, size, contrast, color etc. For example in this poster by Vasjen Katro, contrast in color makes certain elements stand out creating strong focus points. Finally balance is another key principle of design. Balance is achieved by arranging elements symmetrically or asymmetrically to create an impression of equality in weight or importance. Scale also affects how you balance something; sometimes small items can attract attention just as effectively as something big. By understanding these basic principles of design - alignment, repetition, contrast and hierarchy - designers can create visually appealing and functional designs that make sense to users.

Gloria Foulke
Gloria Foulke

Wannabe twitter lover. Freelance social media maven. Friendly twitter nerd. Hipster-friendly zombie advocate. Avid zombie practitioner. Amateur baconaholic.