7 Principles of Design: Definitions and Types

Design is different from art in that it has to have a purpose. Visually, this functionality is interpreted by ensuring that an image has a focus, a focus point. Balance is the way in which the elements within a composition are arranged symmetrically, asymmetrically or radially to create the impression of equality in weight or importance. Scale affects how you balance something, as the phrase “the bigger, the better” is not always the case in design.

Sometimes small items can attract attention just as effectively as something big. It's the message you're trying to convey with design. Contrast, or the arrangement of opposing elements, is also important. Red and yellow are not far enough from each other on the color wheel to be distinguishable enough to the naked eye, so the colors conflict with each other and the result is literally a headache.

Patterns are created through the repetition of specific visual elements, such as a single unit or multitude of shapes. Patterns can be used to create balance, organize surfaces consistently, or create contrast. Movement is the way the eye moves along the composition, drawing attention from one aspect to another. This can be achieved through the use of repeating or alternating elements or patterns.

The frequency with which something repeats itself and the intensity of its contrast creates rhythm. Unity is how all these elements work together; it's the way in which the elements are arranged so that the image looks as a whole and, in general, creates a visually compelling composition. Designers express things in a more detailed and impactful way. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were a total of 67,500 web designers in the United States and the expected percentage increase for 2029 is 4 percent, which is much higher compared to several other professions.

Redundancy is also important; it's the repeated use of specific components, such as tone, shape, or style of text. When used correctly, repetition creates design consistency. The 7 design principles can be used together to create attractive and effective visual designs, although you don't need to combine them all to achieve “good design”. Proportion is an important principle; it's the visual size and weight of a composition of objects or elements that helps designers approach design.

Design elements can consist of anything, including typography, graphics, colors, contrast, weight, position, size and space. Visual hierarchy refers to the design or presentation of elements in a way that implies importance; it's one more principle that draws attention from spectators. Emphasis can also be used to reduce impact of certain information; it's typically achieved by making an area stand out by contrasting it with other areas. Holding reduces or attenuates other parts of a composition to draw attention to a focal object.

Pattern is important too; it's either a thing repeated continuously along a plan or different elements repeated in the same way during design. Minimalism exposes essence of design by reducing all non-essential patterns, features and concepts; in web design it avoids possible distractions and eliminates parts in their most basic forms. Contrast occurs when different elements of a piece are noticeably different from each other; when contrasting elements are juxtaposed or placed side by side it catches eye of viewer.

Dorothy Bauer
Dorothy Bauer

Extreme creator. Award-winning music geek. Award-winning twitter buff. Extreme coffee enthusiast. Subtly charming tv maven.

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