Principles of design and how to use them

Design is a crucial element in creating a visually appealing and engaging project. Whether you are a graphic designer, student, creative, or marketer, you need to understand the principles of design, and what is graphic design to create an eye-catching design.

In this blog post, we will discuss the principles of design and how you can use them in your projects. We will delve into each principle and provide practical tips to help you incorporate them into your work. So let’s get started!

What are the principles of design?

Every designer knows that great designs don’t just happen by chance. They are deliberately and thoughtfully created using a set of fundamental principles that guide every aspect of the design process. From the placement of elements to the use of color, shape, and space, the principles of design are the backbone of every design that catches the eye and captivates the soul. 

principles of design

A true design master knows that mastering these design rules requires more than just skill and creativity; it requires a deep understanding of the art and science of design. So if you’re looking to elevate your design game and create designs that speak to the heart, take the time to learn and embrace the principles of design definitions:


Contrast as principles of design

Contrast refers to the difference in the visual properties of two or more elements in a design. It helps to create a focal point and to draw the viewer’s eye to specific parts of the design. To use contrast in your design, consider using different colors, font sizes, textures, or shapes. For instance, using a bold font for the heading and a smaller font for the body text can help create contrast and make the heading stand out.


Balance as principles of design

Balance is the distribution of visual weight in a design. It helps to create visual harmony and stability in a design. To achieve balance in your design, you can use symmetrical or asymmetrical balance.

Symmetrical balance involves dividing the design into equal parts, while asymmetrical balance involves creating balance using different elements that have equal visual weight. For instance, you can balance a large image on one side of the design by offsetting it with smaller text on the opposite side.


Consistency as principles of design

This refers to the coherence and unity of the elements in a design. It helps to create a sense of completeness and wholeness in a design. To achieve consistency, you need to ensure that all the design elements work together and complement each other. You can use the same color palette, font family, or style to create unity in your design.


Proportion as principles of design

Proportion refers to the relationship between the different elements in a design. It helps to create a harmonious and balanced design. To use proportion in your design, you need to consider the size of each element and its relation to the other elements. For instance, you can use a large image and offset it with smaller text or graphics to create proportion.


Hierarchy as principles of design

Referring to the use of visual elements to highlight or emphasize specific parts of a design. Visual hierarchy helps to create the order of information in a design and draws the viewer’s attention to the most important elements.

You can use typography, color, or size to create emphasis in your design. For instance, using a bright color for the call-to-action button can create emphasis and draw the viewer’s attention.


Flow as principles of design

As with any multi elemental creation, there is usually a narrative involved, even in its most simplest form. Posters, websites, even social media posts have a beginning and an end in some way or another. The idea of a lineal design flow is set in place to guide viewers through the design, pinging off various elements to get as much out of the experience as possible.

You can achieve this by using some of the previously mentioned principles, such as Hierarchy and Balance, to shape and mold your overall design, ensuring the audience reads your design in the way it is intended. 

How to use the principles of design

It’s good practice to look at these design principles as a guide on how to keep your designs under control. They are, after all, passed on from the ages yet are still just as relevant, even through massive technological advances such as the digital revolution.

The reason? Because the language has never and will never change, no matter how you dress it up. Design is a form of communication, and such principles will enable you to design and communicate clearly and effectively, creating stunning logos, engaging websites and impactful posters. 

Golden ratio

It’s important to emphasize that there is no right or wrong way to design. Just like evolution, the most successful designs tend to follow a few evolutionary benefits, passed on from generations, that will help them survive in the vast, unforgiving landscape of our modern world.

The theory of the golden ratio is a great way to start. But for genetic mutations to take place, design needs to sometimes drift from the norm, breaking off from the comfort of tested theories and design principles, allowing for new innovations to break through. It’s as if breaking the rules is all part of the game. But how do you do this in a controlled way? 

Breaking the rules

Graphic design may seem like a rigid industry where rules are strictly followed, but breaking those rules in a controlled way can lead to unique and memorable designs. When done properly, rule-breaking can add elements of surprise and spontaneity that can elevate and set your work apart from the rest. 

A knowledgeable designer can make this happen in a way that is still aesthetically pleasing and effective. Rules are essential in developing strong foundations in design, but knowing when and how to break them is a sign of a true professional who brings passion and charisma to their work. 

The key is to always have a purpose behind the decision to break the rules, allowing for a profound and meaningful design. So don’t be afraid to push boundaries and take calculated risks in your work; your designs will thank you for it.

Other principles of design

When it comes to graphic design, there are many principles and design fundamentals to consider in order to create a well-balanced design. However, some of these elements of design are often overlooked or forgotten. These lesser known graphic design principles and practices can make a significant difference in the final outcome of a design. 

Negative Space and grid system

For example, the principle of negative space, which refers to the space around and between the elements of a design, can help create a sense of balance and prevent a design from feeling cluttered. 

Another practice that is often overlooked is the use of a grid system, which serves as a guide for placing elements and ensures consistency in a design. By incorporating these and other lesser known graphic design principles and practices, designers can create compelling and effective designs that stand out.

Understanding the principles of design is crucial in creating visually appealing and engaging designs. By incorporating these principles into your work, you can create a design that is visually harmonious, balanced, and effective in communicating the intended message.

Whether you are designing a website, a brochure, or a social media post, the principles of design can help you create a design that stands out and achieves its objectives. So next time you have a design project, remember to apply these principles to create a design that leaves a lasting impression on your audience.