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by Gordon Harvey

Students often do their best and hardest thinking, and feel the greatest sense of mastery and growth, in their writing. Courses and assignments should be planned with this in mind. Three principles are paramount:

1. Name what you want and imagine students doing it

However free students are to range and explore in a paper, the general kind of paper you’re inviting has common components, operations, and criteria of success, and you should make these explicit. Having satisfied yourself, as you should, that what you’re asking is doable, with dignity, by writers just learning the material, try to anticipate in your prompt or discussions of the assignment the following queries:

  • What is the purpose of this? How am I going beyond what we have done, or applying it in a new area, or practicing a key academic skill or kind of work?
  • To what audience should I imagine myself writing?
  • What is the main task or tasks, in a nutshell? What does that key word (e.g., analyze, significance of, critique, explore, interesting, support) really mean in this context or this field?
  • What will be most challenging in this and what qualities will most distinguish a good paper? Where should I put my energy? (Lists of possible questions for students to answer in a paper are often not sufficiently prioritized to be helpful.)
  • What misconceptions might I have about what I’m to do? (How is this like or unlike other papers I may have written?) Are there too-easy approaches I might take or likely pitfalls? An ambitious goal or standard that I might think I’m expected to meet but am not?
  • What form will evidence take in my paper (e.g., block quotations? paraphrase? graphs or charts?) How should I cite it? Should I use/cite material from lecture or section?
  • Are there some broad options for structure, emphasis, or approach that I’ll likely be choosing among?
  • How should I get started on this? What would be a helpful (or unhelpful) way to take notes, gather data, discover a question or idea? Should I do research? 

2. Take time in class to prepare students to succeed at the paper

Resist the impulse to think of class meetings as time for “content” and of writing as work done outside class. Your students won’t have mastered the art of paper writing (if such a mastery is possible) and won’t know the particular disciplinary expectations or moves relevant to the material at hand. Take time in class to show them: 

  • discuss the assignment in class when you give it, so students can see that you take it seriously, so they can ask questions about it, so they can have it in mind during subsequent class discussions;
  • introduce the analytic vocabulary of your assignment into class discussions, and take opportunities to note relevant moves made in discussion or good paper topics that arise;
  • have students practice key tasks in class discussions, or in informal writing they do in before or after discussions;
  • show examples of writing that illustrates components and criteria of the assignment and that inspires (class readings can sometimes serve as illustrations of a writing principle; so can short excerpts of writing—e.g., a sampling of introductions; and so can bad writing—e.g., a list of problematic thesis statements);
  • the topics of originality and plagiarism (what the temptations might be, how to avoid risks) should at some point be addressed directly. 

3. Build in process

Ideas develop over time, in a process of posing and revising and getting feedback and revising some more. Assignments should allow for this process in the following ways:

  • smaller assignments should prepare for larger ones later;
  • students should do some thinking and writing before they write a draft and get a response to it (even if only a response to a proposal or thesis statement sent by email, or described in class);
  • for larger papers, students should write and get response (using the skills vocabulary of the assignment) to a draft—at least an “oral draft” (condensed for delivery to the class);
  • if possible, meet with students individually about their writing: nothing inspires them more than feeling that you care about their work and development;
  • let students reflect on their own writing, in brief cover letters attached to drafts and revisions (these may also ask students to perform certain checks on what they have written, before submitting);
  • have clear and firm policies about late work that nonetheless allow for exception if students talk to you in advance.
  • Pedagogy Workshops
  • Responding to Student Writing
  • Commenting Efficiently
  • Vocabulary for Discussing Student Writing
  • Guides to Teaching Writing
  • HarvardWrites Instructor Toolkit
  • Additional Resources for Teaching Fellows


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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, what are the 7 principles of design.

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General Education


If you’re taking any of AP Art courses, like 2-D or 3-D studio art, you absolutely have to understand the core principles of design. That’s because the elements and principles of design are a foundational element of great art!

In this article, we’re going to teach you everything you need to know about the seven principles of design, including:

  • An overview of the principles of design
  • An introduction to key concepts
  • An in-depth look at each of the principles one-by-one
  • Three top tips for incorporating these principles into your own work

Let’s get started!  


What Are the Principles of Design?

If you’ve ever played a sport, then you know that there are some fundamental rules that you have to follow if you want to be successful. For example, if you play soccer, then you know that one of the rules is that you have to kick the ball into the opposing team’s goal in order to score a point! While you don’t have to follow this rule—your team could just kick the ball to one another for 90 minutes—you’ll have a much better chance of winning if you do.

The principles of design are a lot like the rules of a sport. That’s because the principles of design are the rules and principles that artists and designers use to create visual compositions. Artists use these principles to make sure whatever they’re making accurately and effectively delivers their intended message to their audience.

2 Key Concepts: Visual Language and Design

In order to understand the principles of design, you first have to have a handle on two key concepts: visual language and design in general.

Visual language is the idea that we communicate through visual symbols. For example, take a look at the clothes you’re wearing. Do they have a logo on them, like the Nike “swoosh” or the Ralph Lauren “polo pony”? If they do, you’re participating in visual language!

Visual language is the way that designers and artists communicate messages and meaning through their work. They can use things like colors, lines, and shapes to make you feel or think a certain way. And since this is the ultimate goal of design, it’s important to understand how visual language works!

The second key concept is the definition of design itself. You probably hear the term thrown around a lot, whether it’s about the design of the newest Tesla car or the launch of a new designer clothing label.

But when it comes to principles of design, the term “design” has a very specific definition. In this case, design is the process of selecting and organizing elements or components in order to fulfill a specific purpose . This purpose may be functional, aesthetic, or both!  

So when we talk about design in this article, we’re specifically talking about how design elements are used to support the artist’s ultimate goal, whether that’s marketing a product, telling a story, or creating the next great artistic masterpiece.

What Are the Principles of Design Used For?

Artists use the principles of design to make sure that the work they’re creating...well, works. For instance, let’s say a graphic designer is supposed to create a poster for a presidential candidate. It’s going to be really important for the designer to use the principles of design during their design process to ensure the finished poster is visually communicating the right message to potential voters.

The same holds true for fine art, too. Artists paint, sculpt, and create in order to communicate with their viewers. Let’s say an artist is worried about how much Americans consume on a daily basis. That may become the subject of their work, and they’ll pay close attention to how their finished piece speaks to viewers about issues of capitalism. (A good example of how opinions on topics like consumerism and capitalism can be expressed through fine art is the painting “Landscape,” by American painter Mark Tansey .)

On the flip side, these principles are also used to determine whether a piece of art is a success or failure. When a visual composition uses the principles of design well, it will succeed in fulfilling its purpose (whatever that purpose might be). But just because a work is successful doesn’t mean you have to like it. That’s because liking or disliking a visual piece involves your personal taste.

The difference between the principles of design and taste is important. As an artist, it's important to separate your work from taste. This is true for many commercial artists, where their clients’ tastes might not reflect their own. Even fine artists need to be able to do this so that they aren’t conforming their art to others’ tastes.

For a critic, the separation helps them make better judgements. While there’s no real objective way to critique art, the principles of design provide a kind of rubric for assessing whether a piece of art functions.

It might make more sense to think of this in terms of baking. Let’s say you’re judging a cookie baking contest, and when you go to taste one cookie, it’s actually a small, round pizza. The baker argues that you should consider it a cookie: it’s small, flat, round, and baked in an oven. But just because the pizza lines up with the qualifications of a cookie in some ways, it’s missing some other important criteria: it’s not sweet, it’s not cake-like, and it’s certainly not dessert. At the end of the day, a pizza just isn’t a cookie.

The seven principles of design work the same way. Critics can use them as a measuring stick for art. If the goal of art is to communicate a message, then the fundamentals of design give critics a way of checking whether an art piece does so effectively. For critics, the seven principles of design also help ensure they aren’t labeling works as “bad” just because they don’t suit their personal tastes, too.


The 7 Principles of Design: Explained

Now that you’re familiar with the ideas behind the principles of design, let's take a closer look at each of the seven principles. How an artist uses these elements is important to the overall quality and effectiveness of their work.

One quick note: if you Google the principles of design, you’ll find lists that feature five, six, or even eleven principles! That’s because there’s not 100 percent consensus on what the fundamental principles of design are. So to create our list, we picked the principles that appeared the most often across the widest variety of sources.


Principle 1: Contrast

Just like in literature, visual contrast happens when different elements of a piece are noticeably different from one another. When contrasting elements are juxtaposed, or place next to one another, it draws the viewer’s attention.

One of the common ways artists do this is by using contrasting colors close to one another. (These are colors that appear on opposite sides of the color wheel from one another.) But this can also be done through the size or types of objects, too.

Take a look at Leonardo da Vinci’s work, Ginevra de’ Benci , pictured above. Notice the contrast of the woman’s skin against the dark background of the trees. Da Vinci uses contrast to draw your eye to what he considers to be the most important part of the piece—the woman’s face.


Principle 2: Emphasis

Emphasis is important for helping viewers see the most important part of a visual design. Oftentimes, we don’t notice emphasis when it’s done well...but it definitely stands out when it’s done poorly! For example, think about the billboards you see when you drive down the highway. The best ones put the most important information in big, bold letters, or use a related image to capture your attention. But when the type is too small or the images are too cluttered, the advertisement doesn’t work as well.

The movie poster for Jurassic Park is a great example of emphasis. It puts the most important information front-and-center: from a glance, you know that title and opening date of the movie. But the prominent outline of a skeleton also gives you a pretty good idea of what the movie is going to be about. (Spoiler alert: it’s about dinosaurs!)

It’s important to note that emphasis is closely linked to other principles of design. For example, the Jurassic Park poster uses contrast and space to create emphasis. Other posters, like this one for Gravity , use movement, space, and contrast to do the same thing.


Principle 3: Pattern

Pattern happens when an object, image, or symbol is uniformly repeated throughout a visual composition. Anything can be turned into a pattern, though some classic examples include intersecting lines, shapes, and spirals.

Patterns can do many things for a design. It can set the tone for the piece, like if the background features a 70s mod pattern or a repeating image, like an animal. A pattern can also set the stage for other design elements, like contrast or emphasis. In the image above, you can see how the star pattern combines with contrast to reveal a patriotic star, which becomes the emphasis of the advertisement.


Principle 4: Repetition

In design, repetition is used to unify and strengthen a design. Unlike a pattern, where one thing is repeated consistently throughout a design, repetition is the repeated use of certain elements, like color, shape, or font.

When repetition is used correctly, it creates consistency in a design . As a brand, Target Stores are famous for their use of repetition. They use color repetition to help viewers immediately associate an advertisement with their store. A good example of this is the advertisement above, which uses the repetition of colors and shapes (the concentric circles of the Target logo) to reiterate their brand.


Principle 5: Movement

It can seem strange to talk about movement when some visual compositions are still images. But movement as a principle of design is about the movement of a viewer’s eye across a work. Good art leads the viewer from one important element to the next. If a viewer’s eye tends to get stuck in one place, it’s a sign that some of the principles of design aren’t working quite right!

Using movement as a part of your design process has an added benefit: it helps viewers feel connected to what they’re seeing. Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh is an excellent example of movement in action.

In this painting, the swirls of color in the sky carry the viewer’s gaze from left to right, which makes you feel like you’re experiencing the night breeze. But on a mechanical level, Van Gogh’s brush strokes create movement, too. The sweeping lines on the mountains, for example, help[ bring your eye to the village, and following the vertical lines on the plant in the foreground return your gaze back to the sky.  


Principle 6: Space

In design, space refers to the area around different visual elements. There are two types of space: positive space and negative space.

Positive space is the area that the subject of the composition occupies. If you go back to da Vinci’s portrait above, you’ll see that the woman occupies a lot of the portrait’s positive space. As a designer, you use positive space to display the most important elements of your design.

On the other hand, negative space—which is sometimes called “white space”—is the space around objects! If you look back at the Jurassic Park poster, all of the black surrounding the central image and the other copy is a textbook example of negative space. Negative space can be tricky for designers since it seems empty, but it’s actually helping to create emphasis. It helps viewers quickly discern what’s important while also giving a design “room to breathe.”

Positive and negative space work together to create emphasis and visual appeal. Check out the piece above by graphic designer Jonathan Mak, which he made as a memorial to Steve Jobs after his death. He plays with the negative space of the Apple logo, turning the normal bite mark into the profile of the company’s late founder.


Principle 7: Balance

Now it’s time to talk about the last (but perhaps most important) principle of design: balance.

Every element in a visual composition carries weight. The more an element is emphasized, the heavier it is. A designer’s goal is to balance the weight of each object on the canvas in order to create a feeling of balance for the viewer.

There are two ways to do this: through symmetrical balance and through asymmetrical balance. Symmetrical balance adds objects to both sides of the center of a work to create symmetry. You can think of this as balancing a set of old-timey scales. You have to add the same amount of weight to each side to keep them level!

Asymmetrical balance happens when objects and elements aren’t spread evenly across the composition, but how they’re placed creates a sense of balance anyway. Oftentimes, asymmetrical balance helps create a sense of movement and draws your eye from one element to another.

In the photo above, you can see asymmetrical balance at work. The hand and donut are in the bottom of the image, and there’s no identical image at the top! The balance here comes from the amount of negative space in the photo. By limiting the emphasized image to a small part of the picture, the photo maintains its balance.


The 3 Best Tips for Using the Principles of Design

So how can you use the principles of design in your own work? Here are our three top tips for using principles of design to take your art to the next level.

Tip 1: Embrace Negative Space

Like we mentioned earlier, it’s tempting to fill up every corner of a composition with something. After all, we often think of space as “wasted,” right? But remember: negative space is incredibly important to helping the more important elements of a work shine.

A good way to do this is to follow the advice of Coco Chanel , the famous French fashion designer, who famously said: “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” Take a step back and look at your composition. Is there something you can take off, shrink, or move that will help create more balance and space in your work?

Tip 2: Rethink the Axis of Symmetrical Balance

When it comes to symmetrical balance, we sometimes think about it like a Rorschach test where the balance of an image is either left/right or top/bottom. But in fact, the axis of balance for a visual composition can bisect the image at any angle.

Take a look at the picture above. The line of symmetry is on a diagonal from bottom right to top left. The image is still balanced, but the axis is tilted, which gives the image a lot more visual interest. It also comes across as more modern, too!

Tip 3: Take a Step Back

When you’re working on a composition, you’re normally pretty up close and personal with it. But that can sometimes skew your perspective of the piece as a whole.

That’s why one of the best ways to see if a composition works is to view it from a distance. (This is especially true if your composition is meant to be viewed from a distance, like with a large painting or advertisement.) Backing away from the screen or canvas will blur the elements together and help you get a better sense of whether the contrast, movement, and balance of a piece communicates your message.

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  • How to write an essay outline | Guidelines & examples

How to Write an Essay Outline | Guidelines & Examples

Published on August 14, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on July 23, 2023.

An essay outline is a way of planning the structure of your essay before you start writing. It involves writing quick summary sentences or phrases for every point you will cover in each paragraph , giving you a picture of how your argument will unfold.

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Table of contents

Organizing your material, presentation of the outline, examples of essay outlines, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about essay outlines.

At the stage where you’re writing an essay outline, your ideas are probably still not fully formed. You should know your topic  and have already done some preliminary research to find relevant sources , but now you need to shape your ideas into a structured argument.

Creating categories

Look over any information, quotes and ideas you’ve noted down from your research and consider the central point you want to make in the essay—this will be the basis of your thesis statement . Once you have an idea of your overall argument, you can begin to organize your material in a way that serves that argument.

Try to arrange your material into categories related to different aspects of your argument. If you’re writing about a literary text, you might group your ideas into themes; in a history essay, it might be several key trends or turning points from the period you’re discussing.

Three main themes or subjects is a common structure for essays. Depending on the length of the essay, you could split the themes into three body paragraphs, or three longer sections with several paragraphs covering each theme.

As you create the outline, look critically at your categories and points: Are any of them irrelevant or redundant? Make sure every topic you cover is clearly related to your thesis statement.

Order of information

When you have your material organized into several categories, consider what order they should appear in.

Your essay will always begin and end with an introduction and conclusion , but the organization of the body is up to you.

Consider these questions to order your material:

  • Is there an obvious starting point for your argument?
  • Is there one subject that provides an easy transition into another?
  • Do some points need to be set up by discussing other points first?

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Within each paragraph, you’ll discuss a single idea related to your overall topic or argument, using several points of evidence or analysis to do so.

In your outline, you present these points as a few short numbered sentences or phrases.They can be split into sub-points when more detail is needed.

The template below shows how you might structure an outline for a five-paragraph essay.

  • Thesis statement
  • First piece of evidence
  • Second piece of evidence
  • Summary/synthesis
  • Importance of topic
  • Strong closing statement

You can choose whether to write your outline in full sentences or short phrases. Be consistent in your choice; don’t randomly write some points as full sentences and others as short phrases.

Examples of outlines for different types of essays are presented below: an argumentative, expository, and literary analysis essay.

Argumentative essay outline

This outline is for a short argumentative essay evaluating the internet’s impact on education. It uses short phrases to summarize each point.

Its body is split into three paragraphs, each presenting arguments about a different aspect of the internet’s effects on education.

  • Importance of the internet
  • Concerns about internet use
  • Thesis statement: Internet use a net positive
  • Data exploring this effect
  • Analysis indicating it is overstated
  • Students’ reading levels over time
  • Why this data is questionable
  • Video media
  • Interactive media
  • Speed and simplicity of online research
  • Questions about reliability (transitioning into next topic)
  • Evidence indicating its ubiquity
  • Claims that it discourages engagement with academic writing
  • Evidence that Wikipedia warns students not to cite it
  • Argument that it introduces students to citation
  • Summary of key points
  • Value of digital education for students
  • Need for optimism to embrace advantages of the internet

Expository essay outline

This is the outline for an expository essay describing how the invention of the printing press affected life and politics in Europe.

The paragraphs are still summarized in short phrases here, but individual points are described with full sentences.

  • Claim that the printing press marks the end of the Middle Ages.
  • Provide background on the low levels of literacy before the printing press.
  • Present the thesis statement: The invention of the printing press increased circulation of information in Europe, paving the way for the Reformation.
  • Discuss the very high levels of illiteracy in medieval Europe.
  • Describe how literacy and thus knowledge and education were mainly the domain of religious and political elites.
  • Indicate how this discouraged political and religious change.
  • Describe the invention of the printing press in 1440 by Johannes Gutenberg.
  • Show the implications of the new technology for book production.
  • Describe the rapid spread of the technology and the printing of the Gutenberg Bible.
  • Link to the Reformation.
  • Discuss the trend for translating the Bible into vernacular languages during the years following the printing press’s invention.
  • Describe Luther’s own translation of the Bible during the Reformation.
  • Sketch out the large-scale effects the Reformation would have on religion and politics.
  • Summarize the history described.
  • Stress the significance of the printing press to the events of this period.

Literary analysis essay outline

The literary analysis essay outlined below discusses the role of theater in Jane Austen’s novel Mansfield Park .

The body of the essay is divided into three different themes, each of which is explored through examples from the book.

  • Describe the theatricality of Austen’s works
  • Outline the role theater plays in Mansfield Park
  • Introduce the research question : How does Austen use theater to express the characters’ morality in Mansfield Park ?
  • Discuss Austen’s depiction of the performance at the end of the first volume
  • Discuss how Sir Bertram reacts to the acting scheme
  • Introduce Austen’s use of stage direction–like details during dialogue
  • Explore how these are deployed to show the characters’ self-absorption
  • Discuss Austen’s description of Maria and Julia’s relationship as polite but affectionless
  • Compare Mrs. Norris’s self-conceit as charitable despite her idleness
  • Summarize the three themes: The acting scheme, stage directions, and the performance of morals
  • Answer the research question
  • Indicate areas for further study

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

  • Ad hominem fallacy
  • Post hoc fallacy
  • Appeal to authority fallacy
  • False cause fallacy
  • Sunk cost fallacy

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You will sometimes be asked to hand in an essay outline before you start writing your essay . Your supervisor wants to see that you have a clear idea of your structure so that writing will go smoothly.

Even when you do not have to hand it in, writing an essay outline is an important part of the writing process . It’s a good idea to write one (as informally as you like) to clarify your structure for yourself whenever you are working on an essay.

If you have to hand in your essay outline , you may be given specific guidelines stating whether you have to use full sentences. If you’re not sure, ask your supervisor.

When writing an essay outline for yourself, the choice is yours. Some students find it helpful to write out their ideas in full sentences, while others prefer to summarize them in short phrases.

You should try to follow your outline as you write your essay . However, if your ideas change or it becomes clear that your structure could be better, it’s okay to depart from your essay outline . Just make sure you know why you’re doing so.

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Caulfield, J. (2023, July 23). How to Write an Essay Outline | Guidelines & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved March 9, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/academic-essay/essay-outline/

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The basic principles of design—and how to apply them.

essay design principles

This blog post is a comprehensive guide to understanding and applying the principles of design for effective visual compositions. It emphasizes the necessity of learning fundamental design principles for creating harmonious and aesthetically pleasing designs. The post outlines various essential design principles, including balance, contrast, emphasis, unity, proportion, movement, repetition, rhythm, white space, hierarchy, pattern, and variety, especially relevant for digital designs. Each principle is explained with a graphic to enhance understanding. The post also references Dieter Rams's ten principles of good design and other notable design principles. It's a valuable resource for both beginners and experienced designers, providing insights into the building blocks of design and offering practical tips for applying these principles in creative work.

You can’t just flip a switch and create beautiful designs on a whim. Like learning to walk before you run, there are certain fundamentals you’ve got to learn first.

The problem is that if you don’t have the time or inclination to take a design course, resources are pretty scarce. Sure you can rely on Envato Elements or Canva templates , but even then you need to know how to use them properly.

This is why we've put together this post. It’s for you if you’ve ever wondered what goes into good design_._ You'll find it handy whether you're a complete amateur or a budding designer—so let's get stuck in.

What are design principles?

Design principles are guidelines to follow if you want to create effective visuals, from oil paintings and blog graphics to eye-catching social media posts.

Think of design as carpentry and these principles as your toolbox. You can use them to help you during the design process, and unlike hammers, nails, and screwdrivers, they can exist entirely inside your head.

These tools give you a better understanding—and appreciation—of what goes into the designs we see every day. As you become acquainted with them, you’ll start to see what does and doesn’t work (and why), as well as how you can apply these principles to your own creative work.

How many principles of design are there?

The number of design principles is not fixed and can vary depending on the source or context. However, most lists of design principles include around 7 to 12 key elements.

Commonly recognized design principles include:

  • Proportion/Scale
  • Repetition/Rhythm
  • Unity/Harmony

In addition to these, some sources—including this post—may include other principles like Alignment, White Space, Hierarchy, Variety, and Texture.

The principles serve as guidelines for creating visually appealing and effective designs. The exact number and naming of these principles can vary, as design is a field subject to interpretation and evolving trends.

What is good design?

We’re told that piece of art is subjective. For the most part, that’s true. But if you’ve ever seen an unintelligible parking sign or a website from the early days of the web, you’ll know there’s definitely such a thing as bad design.

As Jared Spool, an expert on design and usability , says, “Good design, when it’s done well, becomes invisible. It’s only when it’s done poorly that we notice it.” This is why good design is tricky to define.

Good design, when it’s done well, becomes invisible. It’s only when it’s done poorly that we notice it.

Luckily for us, in the late 1970s, an influential designer named Dieter Rams saw this problem. In response, he asked himself what constituted good design and came up with his own list of ten principles.

They would go on to inspire generations of designers, including Johnny Ive, the mastermind behind Apple’s most famous products.

Rams’s principles are:

  • Good design is innovative
  • Good design makes a product useful
  • Good design is aesthetic
  • Good design makes a product understandable
  • Good design is unobtrusive
  • Good design is honest
  • Good design is long-lasting
  • Good design is thorough down to the last detail
  • Good design is environmentally friendly
  • Good design is as little design as possible

You might notice that these principles are aimed at product design. Rams worked at Braun, so products were in his wheelhouse, but these principles are easily adapted to UX design , or any other design context.

The principles of design

These are the building blocks graphic designers and artists use to put creative works together ; the core principles of art that make up every design, from the fine art of the Louvre to the boxes of Corn Flakes at the local grocery store.

Where objects in real life carry physical weight, elements in design carry visual weight. Large elements are heavier and small elements lighter, with each element having its own "weight" based on how much attention they draw.

Visual balance is about ensuring your design is equally weighted on both sides of the central point. It’s like a seesaw—too much weight on either side and the whole thing becomes unbalanced.

By striking this balance you create visual harmony and stop your design from feeling too chaotic to the viewer. It’s one of the most important parts of  visual composition, and comes in three basic forms:

Symmetrical balance

symmetrical shapes on a pink background

Symmetrical design uses an imaginary vertical (or sometimes horizontal) line to divide a design into two halves around a central point. Elements of equal visual weight are balanced on each side of the axis to create symmetry.

There are two variants of symmetrical balance: Reflectional symmetry, where the two halves are exact mirror images, and translational symmetry, where the same shape or elements are repeated on both sides of the design.

Asymmetrical balance

Abstract shapes ona pink background

An asymmetric composition is when a design uses unequal weighted elements. One side might have a visually heavy element, balanced with multiple lighter elements on the opposite side.

To run with the seesaw example, it would be like having a 100kg weight on one side and 100 kg of feathers stacked on the other. It still achieves balance but provides a whole different experience.

Asymmetry is often more visually interesting. Where symmetrical designs can be quite static and predictable, asymmetrical balance can give designs a more dynamic feel.

Radial balance

a stylized sun on a pink background

Radial balance is when elements “radiate” from a point in the centre of a design. Think of rays shining from the sun, petals blossoming from a rose, or a squirt of tomato sauce in the middle of a juicy meat pie.

This form of symmetry is a way to add depth and movement to a design and works to draw attention to an object in the centre of a composition.

8 white circles and one blue circle

Emphasis is used to focus the viewer’s attention on a certain part of a composition. The effect is achieved by manipulating elements (like color, shape, and size) to make specific parts of a design stand out.

For example, say you wanted to bring attention to a call to action on a landing page . You could increase the text size and use colors that stand out from the background, emphasizing the CTA and making sure visitors can’t miss it.

Circles arrayed in a grid with a coloured pattern among them.

As you may have already guessed, repetition refers to when an element is repeated throughout a design. It could be anything, from using a certain font color to adding a repetitive pattern to a social media post.

Repetition makes designs visually exciting and cohesive. It also creates a sense of consistency by using a repeating motif that the viewer comes to expect. This makes it particularly useful when it comes to creating your distinct brand identity.

Brand identity is the visible element of your brand. The colours; design; logo. It distinguishes your company from the millions of others out there, so when folks see your designs they immediately know it’s your business.

Every successful business uses repetition. Why do we equate the swoosh and “just do it” with Nike? The blue can with Pepsi? Because these visuals were repeated so often eventually they became synonymous with the brands they represent.

So while repetition can just help you make a sweet iPhone wallpaper, it’s a crucial tool for any company looking to build a visual identity and brand recognition.

4 white circles with lines joining them

When we think of movement we think of, well, things moving. A pendulum swinging. A Ferrari roaring down the freeway. But in design, it refers to the path a viewer’s eye takes when they look over a composition.

It’s not just what you look at; it’s the way you look at it. Designers can guide this by using lines, edges, shapes, and colors to create focal points and encourage certain ways of seeing.

Movement can be harnessed to distract, direct, and pull the viewer’s gaze around a design. A savvy artist can control this entire process by using subtle cues (particularly with lighting and perspective), like using lines to create directional cues and make images feel more alive.

A cat in proportion with a male stick figure.

Proportion is the relationship between two or more elements in a design, particularly the size and scale of them. When things are "proportionate”, it means there’s a coordination between them that makes the design look aesthetically pleasing.

For example, when you’re reading a blog post you expect headings to be larger than the body text. Or if you were looking at a realistic drawing of a tortoise and a hare, you expect the hare to be larger than the tortoise.

Proportion is about finding harmony between two elements. You want to make sure things look “right”— that the elements look as if they belong together.

This is something that comes up when creating digital assets and websites online . It’s the bane of many an amateur designer’s existence. Here are a few tips for keeping the elements in your design in proportion:

  • Assemble elements that are identical or share a function.
  • Establish major and minor areas in the design to prevent monotony and boredom.
  • Ensure size variations are subtle (unless the objective is emphasis.)
  • Avoid separating the composition into halves, quarters, and thirds.
  • Try to keep a sense of balance .

You can also play with proportions in a variety of ways to emphasize elements or get a certain message across. It’s a strategy you’ll notice advertisements do often and is usually best used for more creative projects.

Whether you're creating a digital flipbook or designing your next round of paper design flyers , proportions are key.

White space

Comparison of good use of white space and poor use of white space

The region between different design elements is referred to as "negative” or “white” space. This is part of the design that doesn’t contain anything. No images, drawings, shiny colors, or text. Nothing.

The name is kind of misleading — it’s not a "negative" thing and it doesn’t have to be "white". It can be any color: white space refers to what you don’t add; the empty parts around and within your design.

It’s one of the fundamental building blocks of design and is just as important as any elements you include. Think of it like a diet: what you eat matters, but what you don’t eat matters just as much.

“White Space in design composition is the same as the use of silence in a musical composition. Without proportionate use of silence, music is unstructured. Similarly, without white space, design is unstructured and difficult to consume."

— Mark den Hartog

There are two types of white space: micro and macro. Micro white space is the space between small elements (like text), while macro white space refers to the area between large elements or surrounding a design.

Contrast of shape, scale, color and layout

Contrast is produced when two or more visual elements in a composition are different. It can be used to create specific effects, emphasize the significance of certain elements, and add visual appeal to your designs.

Designs that look the same are boring—by experimenting with contrasting color hues, shapes, sizes, textures, and typography, you can liven things up. Humans tend to like contrast. It’s a great way to grab attention, control the visual flow, and keep folks engaged.

Visualisation of a page with hierarchy and a page without hierarchy

Visual hierarchy is about organizing the value of the elements within your design. By ranking information from most important to least important, you make it easier for the viewer to digest your content.

This plays a critical role in UI and UX design . Ever noticed how most landing pages have the same layout? There’s a logo at the top, a menu at the top, and then elements in descending order of importance below.

It’s not because they copied each other's homework—there’s a certain hierarchy that designers stick to draw attention to the right things in the right order (and make it pretty to look at.)

The viewer’s eye should be drawn to the most important element first. These sit atop the throne at the top of the hierarchy, with the elements laid out below ranked in order of importance.

There are several visual tricks to influence this flow, including:

  • Size and scale: The larger an element is the more likely a viewer is to see it. By making something smaller you can reduce its importance and put the emphasis elsewhere. Be sure to use vector graphics for easier scaling.
  • Color and contrast: A splash of color makes a big difference. Use bright colors to make certain elements or information pop.
  • Fonts: Use different typefaces and stylizations like italics and bold to draw the eye and move text higher or lower on the hierarchy.
  • White space: White space enables you to give an element breathing room and make a central element stand out.

Patterns of hierarchy

People read a page in the same way: from top to bottom. But we don’t just stare blankly at the page and wait for information to register, we scan it.

The human eye tends to follow the same path during this process. For that reason, designers stick to two common patterns to make it faster to absorb information: the F-pattern and the Z-pattern.

The F-pattern applies to pages made up mostly of text, like an online or printed article. Readers scan in the shape of an “F”—first, with the headline across the top, then down the left side of the page, and to the right as they identify things they find interesting.

two webpages in google chrome

Designers use a Z-pattern for layouts with less text and more visuals. With this pattern, viewers scan across the top of the page and then diagonally down towards the opposite corner. They then scan the bottom in the same way as the top.

Most websites are designed in this way. Notice how the most important parts like the logo and navigation menu are at the top, while the secondary information like clients and chatbot is at the bottom.

triangles arrayed in a rhythmic pattern

Don’t worry, you can leave your dancing shoes at home. In design, rhythm hasn’t got anything to do with the way you move your hips. It’s about giving your composition a feeling of action and movement.

Designers create rhythm by repeating lines, shapes, colors, and other elements. This makes a path for our eyes to follow, builds patterns, and imbues the design with a sense of flow.

There are a few different types of rhythm:

  • Random rhythm: Repeating elements without any regular intervals.
  • Regular rhythm: When the elements are of a similar size and length and spread out over predictable intervals.
  • Flowing rhythm: Natural patterns where the intervals are organic (like a tiger’s stripes or a bunch of flowers in a garden.)
  • Progressive rhythm: A gradual change or sequence of elements that change over a series of clear steps (like a color gradient for example.)

Rather than letting the viewer’s eye settle on a focal point, rhythm encourages viewers to move their eyes across the entire piece, following the lines and forms to their natural endpoints. It’s something you see reflected across nature and works of art.

black and white tiles on a pink background

People tend to get confused between repetition in patterns, which is understandable, as they both deal with repeated elements. But the similarities end there.

While repetition occurs when the same elements are repeated throughout a design, a pattern is composed of different components repeated in the same way. Think of the way gift wrapping is usually made up of a few different repeated elements—that's a pattern.

You'll also notice patterns commonly used as backgrounds on websites and in mobile applications.

As a general rule, it's best to use colors, textures, and shapes to create patterns. Try to avoid doing so with words — it tends to just give folks headaches. Despite the occasional bright colors and wacky designs, the key to creating effective patterns is simplicity.

tiles on a pink background

Variety isn’t just the spice of life—it’s the spice of design too. It’s integral not to revert to the same old elements within a design to make sure things are visually interesting for your viewers.

Variety keeps things engaging. It stops designs from being stagnant, predictable, and downright boring — all things you want to avoid. By ensuring elements are varied you stop designs from feeling monotonous and uninspired.

The easiest way to do this is through juxtaposition and contrast. Place bright colors next to lighter hues, text next to images, and round shapes next to square ones. By doing so you can keep viewers engaged and your design interesting.

12 blue squares on a pink background

We've put unity last on this list for a reason—it only occurs when all the various elements within a design coexist to form a holistic experience pleasing to the eye.

Unity adds order and makes a piece feel like a coherent whole, instead of a messy combination of individual parts that just so happen to exist on the same page. It's developed both visually and conceptually.

  • Visual unity: An extension of “harmony”, is about elements working together, like color schemes, the use of complementary styles, and in some cases, the repetition of colors and elements to achieve consistency. An example would be using the same colors for all the buttons on a webpage to keep the design cohesive.
  • Conceptual unity: This is when you combine elements for the user’s convenience; it’s about naturally blending form and function. An example of this is how you can double-tap on Instagram to “Like” an image—it reduces friction and requires less action from the user.

To achieve unity you need to look out for three things: whether the elements you’ve used have a good reason to be there, whether they work together, and whether the message or concept you’re trying to display is communicated clearly.

By making sure your designs unite you reduce cognitive load and ensure viewers actually understand whatever it is your design is trying to achieve.

Put your design skills to work

Alright, got the design principles down? Great! But wait, there's more. If you're wondering how to apply these design principles to forms, you'll want to dive into our guide.

Check out our guide to creating beautiful forms that convert .

Related reading

  • 10 standout UX design portfolio examples to inspire your own
  • The 12 best UX design tools for designers in 2024
  • The best graphic design tools in 2024
  • The 5 best Canva alternatives in 2023

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What are the 7 principles of design a detailed breakdown.

design principles

The uniqueness of a design is that it must have a function. This feature is visualized by ensuring that an image has a focal point or center of interest. 'But wait!' You might be thinking. 'Design is all about squeezing out the brain's creative side, right?' If you're a new entrepreneur or designer, you might be tempted to go all out and combine the first five typefaces and colors that strike your eye to produce something unique.

The principles of design are a designer's guidelines to create a compelling and appealing composition. Emphasis, balance and alignment, contrast, repetition, proportion, movement, and white space are the cornerstones of the principle of design.

You'll most likely end up with a design that's jumbled, unfinished, or just plain awful. The design will be poor and useless if it lacks balance. This blog will walk you through seven fundamental pointers of the design principle that can help you design a website UI or mobile apps professionally.

Principles of design importance

The principles of design are made up of many combinations of the design elements that are all combined in one image to improve the appearance of the image. A UI/UX designer can produce works of art that will astound viewers, garner positive press, and hopefully pay off for the creator by combining several principles.

Design principles have a big role in the artwork you make as a web designer. Since they improve the appearance and make your website more aesthetically appealing to those seeing your work, they are the tools that you must use and will inadvertently employ.

Contrast, the centre of interest, repetition, and rhythm are principles you may employ to draw attention to your image and draw viewers in, while harmony, the direction of movement, and balance assist your image look more aesthetically appealing.

Even abstract art or optical illusions use two or more of these criteria to create an image that draws the viewer's eyes and compels them to stare at it, even though not all works need to adhere to all of these characteristics. The principles are crucial because they help you create aesthetically appealing, attention-grabbing artwork.

Now, let’s get to know the principles one by one. The image below describes the main principles of design.

list the principles of design

The first principle of design is the emphasis, which refers to a design's focal point and the importance of each element within it. Assume you're designing a concert poster. Ask yourself, "Should I focus on the band”? Or how about the concert venue? What about the time and cost of the event?"

Make a mental outline of everything you want to do. Allow your brain to organize the data before laying up your design in a way that conveys that order. If the band's name is the most crucial information, put it in the middle or make it the poster's main attraction. Learn about color theory and utilize bold color combinations to make the band name stand out.

If you start your composition without a clear notion of what you're trying to communicate, it will fail, like writing without an outline or building without a blueprint. Therefore, follow this principle of design to execute outstanding ideas.

  • Alignment and balance

Remember that every little thing you add to composition has a particular weight. Color, size, and texture are all factors that account for weight. You can't stuff all your heavy elements into a specific area of your design, just like you wouldn't place all your plants in one corner of a garden.

Your client will feel that the composition has some abnormalities if you can't provide balance in it. Therefore, alignment and balance are two essential principles of design. Equally weighted pieces located on either side of a centerline generate balance in the symmetrical design.

On the other hand, the asymmetrical design employs opposing weights (such as juxtaposing one huge feature with multiple smaller parts) to produce an uneven yet balanced composition.

When someone says a design "pops," they refer to contrast. The contrast principle of design generates space and distinction between elements. To operate effectively together and be viewable, your backdrop should be different from the color of your details.

Understanding contrast is crucial if you want to work with type since it implies your type's weight and size are balanced. If everything is in bold, how will your readers determine what is most important?

When looking for compelling, practical design examples, you'll discover that the majority of them only use one or two typefaces. This is because contrast may be efficiently accomplished by using two strong fonts (or even one strong typeface in different weights). You dilute the goal of your design as you add fonts.

If you stick to two or three solid typefaces or colors, you'll quickly see that you'll have to repeat some elements. That's fine! Don't you think it will sound like an error if just one thing on your band poster is in blue italic sans-serif? You've built a motif and regained control of your design if three things are in blue italic sans-serif.

Repetition is a principle of design that is vital for more than just one printed product. Beautiful graphic patterns are a big part of today's packaging design. Anyone considering starting a business understands that one of the first things they'll need is a great logo to use on their website, business cards, social media, and other marketing materials. Another phrase for recurrence is brand identity.

The visual size and weight of parts in composition and their correlation is referred to as proportion. It's generally more effective to approach your design part by part rather than a full thing. So, proportion is a major when you list the principles of design.

Consider a box at the bottom of your poster for ticket information or a sidebar on a website for a search bar—grouping related topics can give them importance at a lower scale. Only if all aspects of your design are well-sized and intelligently arranged can you attain this design principle. The proportion should emerge naturally once you've mastered alignment, balance, and contrast.

Let's return to our concert poster to explain this principle of design. How would you communicate with your audience if you thought the band was the most significant piece of information on the page and the venue was the second?

Controlling the elements in a composition such that the eye is led from one to the next and the information is transmitted appropriately to your audience is known as a movement. The tale or narrative of your work is created by movement: a band is performing, it's at this location, at this time, and here's how to acquire tickets.

The aspects listed above—particularly balance, alignment, and contrast —can help you achieve that aim, but your design will be doomed without adequate movement. If your eye gets "stuck" somewhere on your design—an element is too huge, too bold, slightly off-center, or not a complementary color—go back and make adjustments until everything is in harmony.

  • White space

The principle of design is concerned with what you add to your design. The only one that expressly deals with what you don't contribute is white space (or negative space). The empty space around the parts in your composition is known as white space. It is a challenging zone for newbies.

White space isn't just empty; it helps organize and create hierarchy. White space around an element has always been related to aesthetics in viewers. It informs our eyes that objects in one area are separated from objects in other areas.

Active negative space can be used to communicate numerous themes in one entertaining, creative design. To be considered "good," a design does not have to adhere to these guidelines strictly. Some completely mind-blowing designs ignore one or more design principles to develop eye-catching and practical work.

We have seen the principles of design. This design is groundbreaking and gratifying because of that startling moment of slight perplexity. A design's elements should be considered as moving parts that work together to convey a story. Before you begin any design project, you should familiarise yourself with these design concepts. Only then will you be able to defy these graphic design conventions and develop your unique style.

Time to wrap up the principle of design. Let me summarize the full points for you.

Other principles of design

Other principles of design are also touched upon in various articles on the subject. These include typography, color, Gestalt Principles, grid and alignment, framing, and shape. Some definitely fit the definition of “principles” while others are more like elements of design.

Typography refers to the way text is arranged in a design. That includes the fonts used, their spacing, size, and weight, and the way different text elements relate to each other. Good typographic design is heavily influenced by all of the other design principles mentioned earlier in this article.

The use of color in design is one of the most psychologically important parts of a design and has a huge influence on user experience. Color psychology and theory heavily influences some of the other principles mentioned earlier.

Gestalt Principles include similarity, continuation, closure, proximity, figure/ground, and symmetry & order (also called prägnanz). Some of those principles are closely related to the principles mentioned above.

Grid and alignment are closely related to balance and refer to the way elements are arranged in relation to an invisible grid on the page.

Framing refers to how the primary subject of a design is placed in relation to other elements on the page. It’s most often heard referred to in cinematography or photography, with how the main focus of an image is placed within the overall image. But the principle carries over into web design as well.

Shape is also a major part of any design, both in terms of specific shapes used as elements within the design, and the overall shape of the design itself. Different shapes can evoke different feelings, i.e circles are organic and fluid, while squares are more rigid and formal, and triangles give a sense of energy or movement.

These design “principles” or elements are important aspects of good design and should be considered alongside the other basic principles to create the best user experiences.

A design serves its purpose the best when it follows the principle of design. Principles of design include emphasis, alignment and balance, contrast, repetition, proportion, movement, and white space. The better a designer focuses on these points, the better would be the final design.

Companies are looking for experienced professionals in all fields these days. You need to be the best designer to get ahead of the competition and succeed in life.

Anaswara Ramachandran

Anaswara Ramachandran

Anaswara is a marketing enthusiast who admires impactful ideas. She finds joy in dancing, travelling etc. Let’s say anything that makes her bring in the adrenaline rush. Into any of these? She is waving at you to join the tribe.

Frequently Asked Questions

The guidelines a designer must adhere to in order to produce an efficient and appealing composition are known as design principles. Emphasis, Balance and Alignment, Contrast, Repetition, Proportion, Movement, and White Space are the principles of design.

The perception that a design is evenly weighted on each side of its vertical centre is known as visual balance. In contrast to an unbalanced design, which feels incomplete and unsettling, a balanced design feels finished and comfortable.

It's crucial to ensure contrast between various website parts so that each one stands out from the rest, whether it's through colour, form, or size. This not only aids in object differentiation for the user but also improves the website's readability and navigation.

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The Principles of Design and Their Importance

Good design is possible without understanding the principles of design. But it may take a lot of trial and error to create something that both looks good and creates an optimal user experience. 🔊

The Principles of Design and Their Importance

By Cameron Chapman

Cameron comes from a design background and is the author of two web design books: Color for Web Design and The Smashing Idea Book.

Listen to the audio version of this article

One of the most difficult parts of talking about the principles of design is figuring out just how many principles there actually are (are there five ? Seven ? 10 ?). And once that’s been figured out, which of these supposed design fundamentals should be included?

Search for “principles of design” and Google will return results for articles that include from five to more than a dozen individual visual design principles. Even the articles that agree on the number don’t necessarily agree on which ones should be included in that number.

In reality, there are roughly a dozen basic principles of design that beginning and expert designers alike should keep in mind when working on their projects. In addition, there are another dozen or so “secondary” design principles that are sometimes included as basics (for example, the Gestalt Principles , typography , color , and framing). The main design principles are explained and illustrated below.

Basic Visual Design Principles

As already mentioned, there is no real consensus in the design community about what the main principles of design actually are. That said, the following twelve principles of visual design are those mentioned most often in articles and books on the subject.

One of the most common complaints designers have about client feedback often revolves around clients who say a design needs to “pop” more. While that sounds like a completely arbitrary term, what the client generally means is that the design needs more contrast.

Contrast refers to how different elements are in a design, particularly adjacent elements. These differences make various elements stand out. Contrast is also a very important aspect of creating accessible designs . Insufficient contrast can make text content in particular very difficult to read, especially for people with visual impairments.

Contrast is one of the basic design principles

All design elements and principles—typography, colors, images, shapes, patterns, etc.—carry a visual weight. Some elements are heavy and draw the eye, while other elements are lighter. The way these elements are laid out on a page should create a feeling of balance.

There are two basic types of balance: symmetrical and asymmetrical. Symmetrical designs layout elements of equal weight on either side of an imaginary center line. Asymmetrical balance uses elements of differing weights, often laid out in relation to a line that is not centered within the overall design.

Design fundamentals: Balance

Emphasis deals with the parts of a design that are meant to stand out. In most cases, this means the most important information the design is meant to convey.

The emphasis basic design principle in action

Emphasis can also be used to reduce the impact of certain information. This is most apparent in instances where “fine print” is used for ancillary information in a design. Tiny typography tucked away at the bottom of a page carries much less weight than almost anything else in a design, and is therefore deemphasized.

Proportion is one of the easier principles of graphic design to understand. Simply put, it’s the size of elements in relation to one another. Proportion signals what’s important in a design and what isn’t. Larger elements are more important, smaller elements less.

Proportion is a vital part of elements and principles of design

Hierarchy is another principle of design that directly relates to how well content can be processed by people using a website. It refers to the importance of elements within a design. The most important elements (or content) should appear to be the most important.

Design fundamentals: Hierarchy

Hierarchy is most easily illustrated through the use of titles and headings in a design. The title of a page should be given the most importance, and therefore should be immediately recognizable as the most important element on a page. Headings and subheadings should be formatted in a way that shows their importance in relation to each other as well as in relation to the title and body copy.

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Repetition is a great way to reinforce an idea. It’s also a great way to unify a design that brings together a lot of different elements. Repetition can be done in a number of ways: via repeating the same colors, typefaces, shapes, or other elements of a design.

This article, for example, uses repetition in the format of the headings. Each design principle is formatted the same as the others in this section, signaling to readers that they’re all of equal importance and that they’re all related. Consistent headings unify these elements across the page.

Repetition is an important principle of design

The spaces between repeating elements can cause a sense of rhythm to form, similar to the way the space between notes in a musical composition create a rhythm. There are five basic types of visual rhythm that designers can create: random, regular, alternating, flowing, and progressive.

Random rhythms have no discernable pattern. Regular rhythms follow the same spacing between each element with no variation. Alternating rhythms follow a set pattern that repeats, but there is variation between the actual elements (such as a 1-2-3-1-2-3 pattern). Flowing rhythms follow bends and curves, similar to the way sand dunes undulate or waves flow. Progressive rhythms change as they go along, with each change adding to the previous iterations.

Basic design principle: Rhythm

Rhythms can be used to create a number of feelings. They can create excitement (particularly flowing and progressive rhythms) or create reassurance and consistency. It all depends on the way they are implemented.

Patterns are nothing more than a repetition of multiple design elements working together. Wallpaper patterns are the most ubiquitous example of patterns that virtually everyone is familiar with.

In design, however, patterns can also refer to set standards for how certain elements are designed. For example, top navigation is a design pattern that the majority of internet users have interacted with.

Principles of design: Pattern

White Space

White space—also referred to as “negative space”— is the areas of a design that do not include any design elements. The space is, effectively, empty.

Many beginning designers feel the need to pack every pixel with some type of “design” and overlook the value of white space. But white space serves many important purposes in a design, foremost being giving elements of the design room to breathe . Negative space can also help highlight specific content or specific parts of a design.

It can also make elements of a design easier to discern. This is why typography is more legible when upper and lowercase letters are used since negative space is more varied around lowercase letters, which allows people to interpret them more quickly.

White space is one of the most important basic design principles

In some cases, negative space is used to create secondary images that may not be immediately apparent to the viewer. This can be a valuable part of branding that can delight customers. Take the hidden arrow in the FedEx logo, for just one example.

The FedEx logo uses design fundamental white space to create a hidden arrow.

Movement refers to the way the eye travels over a design. The most important element should lead to the next most important and so on. This is done through positioning (the eye naturally falls on certain areas of a design first), emphasis, and other design elements already mentioned.

Movement is a design fundamental

Variety in design is used to create visual interest. Without variety, a design can very quickly become monotonous, causing the user to lose interest. Variety can be created in a variety of ways, through color, typography, images, shapes, and virtually any other design element.

However, variety for the sake of variety is pointless. Variety should reinforce the other elements of a design and be used alongside them to create a more interesting and aesthetically pleasing outcome that improves the user’s experience.

Variety is an important basic design principle

Everyone has seen a website or other design out there that seemed to just throw elements on a page with no regard for how they worked together. Newspaper ads that use ten different fonts come to mind almost immediately.

Unity refers to how well the elements of a design work together. Visual elements should have clear relationships with each other in a design. Unity also helps ensure concepts are being communicated in a clear, cohesive fashion. Designs with good unity also appear to be more organized and of higher quality and authority than designs with poor unity.

Principles of design: Unity

Other Principles of Design

Other principles of design are also touched upon in various articles on the subject. These include typography, color, Gestalt Principles, grid and alignment, framing, and shape. Some definitely fit the definition of “principles” while others are more like elements of design.

Typography refers to the way text is arranged in a design. That includes the fonts used, their spacing, size, and weight, and the way different text elements relate to each other. Good typographic design is heavily influenced by all of the other design principles mentioned earlier in this article.

The use of color in design is one of the most psychologically important parts of a design and has a huge influence on user experience. Color psychology and theory heavily influences some of the other principles mentioned earlier.

Gestalt Principles include similarity, continuation, closure, proximity, figure/ground, and symmetry & order (also called prägnanz). Some of those principles are closely related to the principles mentioned above.

Grid and alignment are closely related to balance and refer to the way elements are arranged in relation to an invisible grid on the page.

Framing refers to how the primary subject of a design is placed in relation to other elements on the page. It’s most often heard referred to in cinematography or photography, with how the main focus of an image is placed within the overall image. But the principle carries over into design.

Shape is also a major part of any design, both in terms of specific shapes used as elements within the design, and the overall shape of the design itself. Different shapes can evoke different feelings, i.e circles are organic and fluid, while squares are more rigid and formal, and triangles give a sense of energy or movement.

These design “principles” or elements are important aspects of good design and should be considered alongside the other basic principles to create the best user experiences.

What constitutes the “basic” principles of design is certainly up for debate. But understanding and implementing the principles covered above is vital to the success of any design project.

Designers should aim to understand how each of these design principles actually impact their work. Studying how other designers have implemented these ideas to structure their own designs is also an incredibly valuable tool in learning to create better designs.

It’s entirely possible to create a good design without a thorough understanding of these elements and principles of design. However, it’s typically done by “designer’s intuition” and may take a lot of trial and error in order to create something that actually looks good and creates an optimal user experience. Designers could save a lot of time and energy by practicing the principles we have discussed until they become second-nature.

Further Reading on the Toptal Blog:

  • Design Principles: An Introduction to Visual Hierarchy
  • Boost Your UX With These Successful Interaction Design Principles
  • Exploring the Gestalt Principles of Design
  • Persuasive Design: Using Advanced Psychology Effectively
  • The Ultimate UX Hook : Anticipatory, Persuasive, and Emotional Design in UX

Understanding the basics

What are the elements of visual design.

The elements, or principles, of visual design include Contrast, Balance, Emphasis, Movement, White Space, Proportion, Hierarchy, Repetition, Rhythm, Pattern, Unity, and Variety. These principles of design work together to create something that is aesthetically pleasing and optimizes the user experience.

Why is contrast important in design?

Contrast refers to how different elements are in a design, making them more easily discernible from one another. Contrast is very important in creating accessible designs. Insufficient contrast can make text content in particular very difficult to read, especially for people with visual impairments.

What does rhythm mean in design?

The spaces between repeating visual elements create the basic design principle of rhythm to form, similar to the way the space between notes in a musical composition create a rhythm. There are five basic types of visual rhythm that designers can create: random, regular, alternating, flowing, and progressive.

What is the balance design principle?

Every element and principle of a design—typography, colors, images, shapes, patterns, etc.—carries a visual weight. Some elements are heavy and draw the eye, while other elements are lighter. The way that these elements are laid out on a page should create a feeling of balance.

How is emphasis achieved in design?

The basic design principle of emphasis is used to either make certain elements of a design stand out (such as through using contrasting colors, making an element larger, increasing the white space around it, etc.), or not stand out (like when including tiny “fine print” at the bottom of a page).

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Good Design

What is good design.

Good design is a concept defined by industrial designer Dieter Rams’s principles: It makes a product useful and understandable, is innovative, aesthetic, unobtrusive, honest, long-lasting, thorough to the last detail, environmentally friendly, and involves as little design as possible. Designers strive for good design.

“You cannot understand good design if you do not understand people.” — Dieter Rams

Discover what good design truly involves.

Dieter Rams’ 10 Principles of Good Design

The Timeless Appeal of Good Design

The term “good design” sounds deceptively self-evident. As something for designers to practice, it begs the question of what it involves as a clear set of elements. Design is a field where we understand, communicate with and enhance the world around us, particularly by improving people’s lives. Indeed, the cost of bad design is frustrated users and a damaged brand name.

Image depicting Dieter Rams in his office

© Gary Hustwit and Film First, Fair-Use

Dieter Rams, a German industrial designer renowned for his less-but-better approach to design, addressed the nature of good design to determine exactly what it requires of designers. Rams’s influence is far-reaching, having helped shape how most consumer products used in the late 20th and early 21st centuries look and work. From alarm clocks to toothbrushes, coffeemakers and far beyond, Rams’s hallmarks surround us. His aesthetics stand for honesty, restraint and simplicity. In the late 1970s, Rams studied the world around him—finding “an impenetrable confusion of forms, colors and noises”—and asked himself this essential question: “Is my design good design?” Rams’s answer is expressed in his ten principles, whereby good design:

Is innovative.

Makes a product useful.

Is aesthetic.

Makes a product understandable.

Is unobtrusive.

Is long-lasting.

Is thorough down to the last detail.

Is environmentally friendly.

Involves as little design as possible.

Image depicting the ten principles of good design

© Daniel Skrok and Interaction Design Foundation, CC BY-SA 3.0

How to Pursue Good Design to Produce Great Designs

Throughout your design process, these points are crucial to remember:

Strive for innovation. The world is always progressing, and technological development is always offering new opportunities for innovative design. Being innovative in design means moving alongside the developments in innovative technology. So, try to keep in step with those developments rather than attempt a novel design for the sake of it.

Let form follow function, alongside the psychological and aesthetic aspects for your users . Products (and services) are bought to be used. Users/customers want to enjoy good experiences (or at least be spared from frustrating ones) and have expectations for you to satisfy. Your design’s usefulness means nothing should detract from that usefulness.  

Go for good looks and sensations . The products we use every day affect our personal well-being. So, if your design is around users and is something you’ve crafted well, they’ll enjoy it all the more if it’s beautiful.

Make your design speak clearly . An intuitive look and feel will inform users what to do with your design. If you can coax them to cross that magic bridge where they take to your product without having to stop to think (i.e., become confused), you’ll optimize how they can achieve their goals with it.

Make it unobtrusive . Your design serves a purpose; being pretty for decoration’s sake isn’t it. It’s up to the users to express themselves through your design. That’s why a neutral and restrained approach works, why clean and simple aesthetics help users.

Keep it honest and upfront . Users want promises kept, not false hopes dangled before them, so your design should only be as innovative, powerful and/or valuable as it claims to be. When you consider the solution/s it offers to what problems and design for those, you can help maintain this balance.

Keep it unfashionably in style . Good design never looks dated or antiquated. Classic, clean looks help prevent the unwanted signature styling that pegs a product to an era and makes it discardable.

Keep an eye on the finest details . When you pay attention to the tiniest elements, it tells users you cared enough to follow them on their list of design wants. This could be anything from an extra button on a wearable device to a failsafe feature that shows users all their activity and messages. So, know your users and aim to please them to the maximum degree and alleviate their worries.

Conserve the environment . The world’s problems are complex, and pollution can arise from wasted resources throughout your product’s lifecycle. The big-picture view means creating more devices we can recycle more easily and with less resources invested. Also consider the users’ immediate environment: e.g., does your design pollute it visually and sonically?

The least possible is the best possible . When you focus on just the essential aspects in your design, you can make the best of their purity. For example, the clean feel of a UI with well-defined, simple buttons is a winning “formula” compared with the clutter of options users would experience if you inserted every nice-to-have feature.

Image depicting examples of good design

© Gary Hustwit and Film First, Fair-Use 

Overall, your best designs will be self-explanatory to your users and customers, who’ll appreciate how these simple-yet-wonderful creations prove that you understand the people you design for.

Learn More about Good Design

Take our Visual Design course.

See good design at work and exemplified at code level .

Follow one designer’s account of how the principles of good design helped his app .

Questions related to Good Design

In online education, there are many ways to educate yourself about design. You can explore courses like IxDFs' visual design course to learn more about good design. Witness the designs in action and delve into code-level examples. Additionally, broaden your knowledge by reading firsthand accounts from seasoned designers. This will help gain insights into how they apply and leverage good design principles in their projects. Engage with design communities and forums, where discussions and shared experiences contribute to a rich learning environment. Staying updated on industry trends through design blogs and podcasts and attending design conferences further fuels your understanding of good design. This will foster a continuous learning journey in the dynamic and evolving field of UX design.

Design is a balance of innovation and functionality that must be appealing while meeting user needs. Doing this with clarity and simplicity is hard enough, but we must also consider the physical and technological environment. The challenge lies in meeting immediate design goals, anticipating future trends, and ensuring adaptability. It's a process that demands a keen understanding of the ever-shifting dynamics in the design world.

Bad design emerges from a lack of innovation, poor functionality, unclear communication, excessive complexity, and a disregard for user or customer needs. It prioritizes profit over user experience, lacks aesthetic appeal, and ignores the environment. Poor functionality is another trait that can be found in bad designs. Unclear communication adds to the problem, making it difficult for users to understand the design's purpose. Excessive complexity further increases issues as designs become cluttered and challenging to navigate. Additionally, disregarding user needs creates a disconnect, where the design prioritizes business needs over enhancing the user experience. In essence, bad design frustrates users, impacts brand reputations, and ultimately fails to achieve its intended purpose. Read this article on bad design for a better understanding.

The most potent design principle is simplicity. Embracing simplicity guarantees clarity, effortless usability, and enduring appeal. By shedding unnecessary complexity, we concentrate on the core elements, yielding intuitive, elegant designs that effectively convey their purpose. Simplicity not only enhances the user experience but also contributes to the aesthetic elegance of a design. Its impact helps designs in transcending trends and maintaining relevance. As a guiding principle, simplicity balances form and function. It reduces complexity and turns it into a harmonious and easily understandable design. In essence, simplicity is the key that transforms a design from being merely effective to being powerfully resonant and universally acceptable. Learn more about the power of simplicity in design .

Great user experience design surpasses good design by blending innovation, user-centric functionality, and aesthetic brilliance. It elevates itself beyond merely meeting basic requirements. While good design meets expectations, great design exceeds them, offering an experience that resonates more deeply. It portrays a thorough understanding of users' needs and desires, anticipating and addressing them in ways beyond the ordinary. Great design often possesses a timeless quality, defying existing trends and ensuring longevity. It leaves an effective mark not only in terms of visual appeal but also in terms of the lasting impression it leaves on the user. This establishes a connection that goes beyond the immediate interaction with the design.

  • Transcript loading...

Watch this short clip by Don Norman to learn how to use human centricity to make your design great.

Visual skills are crucial for effective design, enabling clear communication, intuitive user interactions, and aesthetically pleasing outcomes. A well-defined visual language enhances the user experience by guiding individuals through the design. Understanding and mastering visual elements ensures effective communication and the creation of perfect designs. Mastery of visual elements extends beyond aesthetics; it empowers designers to create visually pleasing and highly functional designs. The ability to leverage colors, typography, and layout cohesively enhances the overall impact of a design. In essence, visual skills are not merely about making things look good. They help in optimizing the communication and usability of a design. This elevates the design from visually appealing to a robust and user-centric solution.

Watch this video to understand more about the importance of visual skills in your CV.

To create a good design system for interactive solutions, focus on innovation, user experience, aesthetic appeal , clarity, and environmental considerations. Strive for simplicity, honesty, and thoroughness in design. Tailor the system to users' needs, emphasizing functionality and visual clarity while minimizing unnecessary complexity. A successful design system looks good and considers its impact on the environment, promoting sustainability. Refining and updating the system is crucial to keep it relevant and effective. You should adopt a system for clear communication within the design team. This ensures the whole team is on the same page and working towards shared goals. Tailoring the system to users' needs becomes a versatile tool, accommodating diverse requirements while enhancing overall user satisfaction.

A successful design system involves maintaining innovation, prioritizing user experience, and adhering to the principles of good design. It requires clear communication, functional aesthetics, and an understanding of user expectations. This approach creates a cohesive and practical design across products or services. It is an ongoing process of staying creative and meeting users' needs. Following the basic rules of good design, like keeping things clear and simple, is essential. Communication is vital to ensure everyone working on the design is on the same page. Understanding what users expect helps shape the design to fit their needs. All these elements together create a design system that works well in the present and can adapt to changes in the future.

Want to learn how to use storytelling to create successful design systems? Take the IxDF's masterclass today.

The main qualities of a good design incorporate innovation, functionality , aesthetics, user-friendliness, unobtrusiveness, honesty, durability, attention to detail, environmental consciousness, and simplicity . For products and services, user-friendliness is paramount, ensuring accessibility and intuitive interactions. Unobtrusiveness and honesty highlight ethical design, fostering trust and transparency. Durability speaks to longevity, emphasizing quality materials and craftsmanship. Attention to detail elevates the user experience, while environmental consciousness promotes sustainability . Simplicity remains a guiding principle, converting complexity into elegant solutions. These qualities align with Dieter Rams's ten principles , ensuring products are practical and visually appealing while minimizing unnecessary complexity. Following these vital attributes of a good design will make your design accessible and attractive. Each quality mentioned caters to some element a user might look for in any product or web design.

Literature on Good Design

Here’s the entire UX literature on Good Design by the Interaction Design Foundation, collated in one place:

Learn more about Good Design

Take a deep dive into Good Design with our course Visual Design: The Ultimate Guide .

In this course, you will gain a holistic understanding of visual design and increase your knowledge of visual principles , color theory , typography , grid systems and history . You’ll also learn why visual design is so important, how history influences the present, and practical applications to improve your own work. These insights will help you to achieve the best possible user experience.

In the first lesson, you’ll learn the difference between visual design elements and visual design principles . You’ll also learn how to effectively use visual design elements and principles by deconstructing several well-known designs. 

In the second lesson, you’ll learn about the science and importance of color . You’ll gain a better understanding of color modes, color schemes and color systems. You’ll also learn how to confidently use color by understanding its cultural symbolism and context of use. 

In the third lesson, you’ll learn best practices for designing with type and how to effectively use type for communication . We’ll provide you with a basic understanding of the anatomy of type, type classifications, type styles and typographic terms. You’ll also learn practical tips for selecting a typeface, when to mix typefaces and how to talk type with fellow designers. 

In the final lesson, you’ll learn about grid systems and their importance in providing structure within design . You’ll also learn about the types of grid systems and how to effectively use grids to improve your work.

You’ll be taught by some of the world’s leading experts . The experts we’ve handpicked for you are the Vignelli Distinguished Professor of Design Emeritus at RIT R. Roger Remington , author of “American Modernism: Graphic Design, 1920 to 1960”; Co-founder of The Book Doctors Arielle Eckstut and leading color consultant Joann Eckstut , co-authors of “What Is Color?” and “The Secret Language of Color”; Award-winning designer and educator Mia Cinelli , TEDx speaker of “The Power of Typography”; Betty Cooke and William O. Steinmetz Design Chair at MICA Ellen Lupton , author of “Thinking with Type”; Chair of the Graphic + Interactive communication department at the Ringling School of Art and Design Kimberly Elam , author of "Grid Systems: Principles of Organizing Type.”

Throughout the course, we’ll supply you with lots of templates and step-by-step guides so you can go right out and use what you learn in your everyday practice.

In the “ Build Your Portfolio Project: Redesign ,” you’ll find a series of fun exercises that build upon one another and cover the visual design topics discussed. If you want to complete these optional exercises, you will get hands-on experience with the methods you learn and in the process you’ll create a case study for your portfolio which you can show your future employer or freelance customers.

You can also learn with your fellow course-takers and use the discussion forums to get feedback and inspire other people who are learning alongside you. You and your fellow course-takers have a huge knowledge and experience base between you, so we think you should take advantage of it whenever possible.

You earn a verifiable and industry-trusted Course Certificate once you’ve completed the course. You can highlight it on your resume , your LinkedIn profile or your website .

All open-source articles on Good Design

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DESRIST 2020: Designing for Digital Transformation. Co-Creating Services with Citizens and Industry pp 183–194 Cite as

The Origins of Design Principles: Where do… they all come from?

  • Sandeep Purao 11 ,
  • Leona Chandra Kruse 12 &
  • Alexander Maedche 13  
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Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNISA,volume 12388)

This essay reports the results of a reflective study to explore the question: where do… design principles come from ? While a consensus is slowly emerging about the structure and content of design principles, the origins of design principles remain open to scholarly explorations and debates. Scholars have suggested, and speculated about several paths to identifying design principles, such as reflecting on the design efforts, looking to source theories, and even examining prior design products in an archaeological manner. We bring together these threads to develop a framework that consists of four dimensions, each an unsettled concern: (a) what can and should be the key influences on design principles, (b) when can and should design principles be generated, (c) who can and should identify design principles, and (d) how can and should design principles be documented? Two illustrative examples demonstrate how these dimensions may be used to identify, elaborate and defend the design principles as knowledge outcomes. We conclude by outlining some next steps for deeper, thoughtful investigations of the origins of design principles.

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Purao, S., Kruse, L.C., Maedche, A. (2020). The Origins of Design Principles: Where do… they all come from?. In: Hofmann, S., Müller, O., Rossi, M. (eds) Designing for Digital Transformation. Co-Creating Services with Citizens and Industry. DESRIST 2020. Lecture Notes in Computer Science(), vol 12388. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-64823-7_17

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The Principles of Design

The Principles of Design, Essays on Art

Unity and Variety

Unity can be defined as the similarity, oneness, togetherness, or cohesion of the elements within a composition. Variety is unity’s opposite—the difference between elements. Unity and Variety are the cornerstones of composition, and when combined, can create compositions that are both cohesive and lively. Unity and variety can be explored through techniques like:

  • Containment

Balance refers to the distribution of weight or force within a composition.

  • Actual balance
  • Pictorial balance
  • Symmetrical balance
  • Asymmetrical balance
  • Horizontal, vertical, diagonal and radial balance

Emphasis and Focal Point

Emphasis gives prominence to part of a design. A focal point is a compositional device used to create emphasis. Both emphasis and focal point are used to attract attention and increase visual and conceptual impact.

  • Emphasis by isolation
  • Emphasis by placement
  • Emphasis through contrast

Rhythm is difficult to summarize in words. Assuming that you've picked up on a rhythm in music before, take what you heard with your ears and try to translate that to something you'd see with your eyes. Rhythm, in art, is a visual beat. A pattern has rhythm, but not all rhythm is patterned. For example, the colors of a piece can convey rhythm, by making your eyes travel from one component to another. Lines can produce rhythm by implying movement. Forms, too, can cause rhythm by the ways in which they're placed one next to the other.

Scale refers to the size of a form when compared with our own human size.

  • Hierarchical scale
  • Distortion of scale

Proportion describes the size, location or amount of one element to another or to the whole in a work of art.

Reed Enger, "The Principles of Design," in Obelisk Art History , Published August 06, 2019; last modified November 22, 2022, http://www.arthistoryproject.com/essays/the-elements-of-design/.

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What Are Gestalt Design Principles? A Complete Breakdown

By Jennifer Gaskin , Sep 01, 2022

Gestalt Principles

The principles of Gestalt come from a larger understanding of human perception — they’re based on how humans recognize patterns and simplify complexity. By applying Gestalt principles to designs, marketers (or any business professional for that matter) can craft easy-to-understand visual communications. In other words, these principles can help you really connect with your audience.

So, let’s learn more about this German movement, including and how you can apply Gestalt principles of perception to your designs to better relay information, engage readers and get results.

Click to jump ahead:

What is gestalt, how are gestalt principles used in everyday life, how is gestalt used in design, what are the 10 gestalt principles, reification, multistability, past experience, gestalt principles faq.

Gestalt is a German philosophy positing that the whole of anything is greater than the sum of its parts. The movement began in the early 20th century in Austria and Germany when psychologists sought a way to better understand human perception. While Gestalt psychology remains in practice today, one of the movement’s most enduring effects is, actually, in the area of design.

The term Gestalt has no literal translation in English, but it translates most closely to words like “form,” “shape” and “pattern.”

One of the earliest applications of Gestalt principles used to understand human behavior is the so-called phi phenomenon — a visual illusion in which stationary objects can be perceived as moving if viewed in rapid succession.

As you can see, the image above appears to be moving, even though the dots are simply blinking in and out. This phenomenon provides the basis for understanding how humans perceive motion pictures and animation.

Related: What Are the Principles of Design? A Complete Breakdown

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Given the vastness of the Gestalt movement, there are dozens of associated principles used in many areas. But here are a few quick examples of how Gestalt principles apply to everyday life:

  • Reading: The practice of reading is perhaps the best way to understand the Gestalt philosophy of not being able to separate the whole from the individual parts. As you read this now, your brain interprets each word as having its own meaning, which then affects the meaning of the sentence depending on how each word is placed.
  • Maps: When you type a destination into Google maps, it’s common for multiple routes to appear and for the app to highlight the most efficient one. Even though the map itself contains a great deal of visual information in the form of roads and name markers, the eye will naturally follow the outlined routes. This illustrates the Gestalt principle of continuity. (More on this a little later on.)
  • Perceiving others: If you walk into a restaurant or bar and see several people sitting near each other, you’ll likely assume they’re part of the same group even though you don’t know anything else about them. This is an example of the Gestalt principle of proximity . (Again, more on this in a sec!)

Because the movement derives from understanding how the human brain processes visual information, it’s perhaps unsurprising Gestalt principles are in wide use in the design world. From graphic design to user experience, product design and more, you can spot these principles at play.

Designers of all stripes use these principles to ensure their audience is able to understand and use the object or product at hand with as little effort as possible. For example, in the following infographic, the designer uses many Gestalt principles — like proximity and continuity — to make an otherwise overwhelming amount of information easy to digest:

Gestalt principles example - Education timeline infographic

When it comes to design, there are 10 principles associated with the Gestalt movement that can help you ensure your audience perceives your work as you intended. It’s worth noting, some of these principles are associated with the movement in general, rather than being specific ways to understand human perception:

Let’s take a closer look at each one…

Gestalt principles example - Reification

Reification refers to how the mind often perceives more visual information than what it literally sees. This often comes into practice when we see implied shapes like those above.

In the first shape, your brain will perceive a triangle where none literally exists: the Pac-Man-like circles trick your brain into perceiving a triangle. While in the shape on the right, your brain filled in the blanks to create a shape resembling a snake or perhaps the Loch Ness monster.

When you’re not actively trying to create a shape like this — as many designers do when creating logos and other brand visuals — it’s important to think about reification to ensure your designs aren’t open to unintended interpretation.

Gestalt principles example - Escher's relativity

The principle of multistability refers to the brain’s tendency to shift between perceptual experiences given ambiguous inputs. In plain English, the brain can flip back and forth between different perceptions of an image.

The work of artist M.C. Escher is a prime example of this, including one of his most oft-copied works, the lithograph print “Relativity,” seen above.

Gestalt principle example - Invariance, four cubes from different angles

The invariance principle in Gestalt philosophy describes the fact that the mind can recognize certain objects independent of other factors like rotation, scale or distortion. In the example above, the brain will attempt to see the same cube shape as on the far left regardless of how it’s been changed.

essay design principles

The law of Pragnanz is one of the harder Gestalt principles to understand and, therefore, see in practice. But one reason for that is because Pragnanz, which directly translates to “pithiness” or “short description,” is also a way of understanding how and why our brains operate under all the other principles on this list.

Pragnanz, also known as the law of good Gestalt, says humans prefer experiences that are simple and orderly and when faced with perceived complexity, our brains will simplify them. That could mean, for example, using reification to see implied shapes that don’t exist — thereby bringing order and simplicity to what we see.

A good example of Pragnanz in action is the iconic Olympic rings image seen above. Rather than seeing a series of semi-circles, the brain perceives interconnected rings, illustrating the spirit of international athletic competition.

Proximity design principle example

We naturally perceive objects that are near each other as comprising a group rather than seeing them as individuals. Even in the absence of other uniting factors , we tend perceive objects as related if they’re near each other.

The image above is a good example. The two groups of shapes appear more closely related than the triangles and circles in either group. The principle of proximity overrules the similarity between shapes in this instance.

Gestalt principles example - Closure demonstrated by the IBM logo with stripes through it

Similar to reification, the closure Gestalt principle describes the way the brain will perceive an incomplete object as a complete one. A perfect example of this in real life is the IBM logo, which literally is a series of lines but in our brains becomes the letters in the company’s name.

Gestalt principles example - Similarity demonstrated by blue and red dots in a grid

Similarity describes the brain’s ability to perceive items or objects as related if they share certain characteristics, including shape, color or pattern. When creating a design, it’s important to understand both similarity and proximity because there are ways in which these principles can work against each other.

For example, if half the red shapes above were further away, the viewer might perceive the other half as belonging to a group with the blue shapes. But if your intention was to group the shapes by color similarity, that would be the wrong interpretation!

Gestalt principles example - Continuity demonstrated by a dotted line

The Gestalt law of continuity posits that the brain will follow a path that’s literal or implied by the objects it sees. This principle also helps describe why we see moving pictures rather than individual photographs when watching films. Our brains help us continue the implied path, like in the example above. Even though, in reality, the image shows a bunch of disparate circles, our brain perceives it as a path.

Gestalt principles example - Symmetry demonstrated by a poster

The symmetry principle of Gestalt theory doesn’t mean everything has to be the same. Rather, it refers to the tendency of the brain to perceive symmetrical elements as being connected, even if they aren’t. And other similarities between symmetrical objects makes it more likely the brain will perceive them as grouped.

The poster above is a good example: though they’re two different shapes, the bicycle wheel and manhole cover appear as one object.

Gestalt principles example - Past experience demonstrated by a red, yellow and green circle stacked like traffic lights

The law of past experience is one of the hardest to predict because every person comes from a different background and has their own unique experiences. But there are some commonalities you can use to help make sure your visual design work is well-understood.

A good example of this is the combination of red, yellow and green circles. On their own, they appear meaningless, but you know the combination better as a traffic light.

What are the 6 principles of Gestalt?

The six classic principles of Gestalt are proximity, closure, similarity, continuity, symmetry and past experience. In addition, there are the principles of Pragnanz, reification, multistability and invariance.

What are the 7 Gestalt principles?

The seven Gestalt principles are Pragnanz, proximity, closure, similarity, continuity, symmetry and past experience, though many people don’t consider Pragnanz a separate principle. Rather, Pragnanz comes from proper application of the six other principles of Gestalt.

As discussed in this article, there are also reification, multistability and invariance.

Applying Gestalt principles to your designs will help simplify your content for readers

You don’t need a Ph.D. in German philosophy to understand the principles of Gestalt and apply them to your visual communications. And you don’t need a degree in graphic design either!

All that’s really required is to think about how the human brain, including the one you’re using right now to read this content, perceives and absorbs information. In other words, be your own audience. Adapting this mindset when crafting communications will help you simplify your content and drive your point home.

And you know what else doesn’t hurt? Starting with a professionally designed, Gestalt-approved template . Paired with Venngage’s user-friendly drag-and-drop editor, you can create truly stunning designs in no time at all.

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Crafting product-specific design principles to support better decision making.

Portrait of Maria Rosala

August 2, 2020 2020-08-02

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Making decisions is what designers do regularly when designing products and services. Some of these decisions are straightforward (e.g., where to place the Log in button), but others require choosing between two competing goals. For example, should we go for a clean, minimalistic design or make content super discoverable ? Which user group should we prioritize for this task: power users or casual users ?

When faced with tradeoffs like these, designers need to choose which goal to sacrifice in favor of another. Doing so can be tricky: the choice made can feel subjective or random and can result in lengthy — and possibly unneeded — debates within large design teams.

In This Article:

Product design principles, step 1: identify core values, step 2: consider how these values impact users, step 3: identify any common tradeoffs, step 4: write, compare, and iterate.

One useful device to guide designers to make the right tradeoff decisions are product-specific design principles. These principles support consistency in the way decisions are being made across teams, build confidence in the decision, and eliminate fruitless debates.

Product design principles (or, in short, design principles) are value statements that describe the most important goals that a product or service should deliver for users and are used to frame design decisions.

It’s worth stating that product design principles are different from principles of good design, such as usability guidelines , heuristics , or visual-design principles . Design principles are specific to the product or service that is being designed. That being said, they are not directions on how to design specific UI elements (like design patterns or standards). Often, product design principles are referred to as ‘design principles,’ and usually, the context is enough to understand whether the term refers to general UI principles or to product-specific design principles. In this article, we use “design principles” and “product design principles” interchangeably.

To illustrate how design principles work, let’s have a look at an example. Here’s a design principle for Nielsen Norman Group’s website.

Clarity Over Popularity We’re not an academic journal, nor a trendsetter. Our goal is to be a source of clarity and instruction, and to provide actionable advice for UX professionals that’s backed by research. Practitioners today come from many different backgrounds and UX isn’t easy; it’s nuanced and complex. Let’s give users advice that’s clear, easy-to-digest, and concrete without introducing unnecessary jargon or confusing terminology. By doing so, we can empower designers to succeed in their jobs and make the world a better, more user-friendly place.

In order for design principles to be effective, they should:

  • Take a stand on which value is important: Each principle should be clear on what value it advocates and why. If the principle is ambiguous about what it recommends, then it could be interpreted differently. It can be helpful if a value is explicitly called out over another regularly conflicting value to make the desired choice more obvious.
  • Inspire empathy: A design principle should mention why that value is important to users. By doing so it helps designers keep users at the heart of their design decisions.
  • Be concise: Design principles are not meant to be an essay. Keep it short and to the point, to ensure they’re easily understood, referenced, and remembered.
  • Be memorable: If you have content specialists in your organization, it’s worth getting their input in drafting principles to make them memorable (as well as concise). Additionally, you shouldn’t have too many. For example, having 10 or more leads to many being forgotten; reading and understanding them again each time they are needed consumes too much time.
  • Not conflict with one another: Each principle should be dedicated to one value only. However, be careful that your principles don’t conflict. For example, if there was a principle about consistency and another one about adaptability, then it would be difficult to understand how these values should be prioritized against one another when faced with a design decision that requires sacrificing one for the other. If both are important, but in different contexts, then clearly specify in which contexts one of these principles is more important than the other.

Writing effective design principles is harder than it sounds. However, there are plenty of good — and not so good — examples out there that can be used to draw inspiration from. (It might also be interesting to check your competitors’ design principles!) If you’re thinking of writing some design principles for the first time, here are some simple steps which you can perform alone or in a workshop with your team and stakeholders.

Before writing your design principles, you need to identify the values essential for the success of your product or service. These important values may have been captured in vision statements or project briefs. If these don’t exist, then do some research; find out what differentiates your product or service from your competitors’. Why do people choose to use your product or service, and not a competitor’s? These values might be those to emphasize in your design principles. If you have many, then prioritize the ones that are most important overall for the success of the product or service.

To ensure you write design principles that are user-centered, ask yourself: why are these values important? What do they help to achieve for users? If we didn’t pursue them, how would our users be affected? Write these out.

Are there any well-known, simple conflicts in your organization that should be settled? If so, call them out. For example, you might have a frequent conflict between the needs of sellers and the needs of buyers on an ecommerce platform. If their needs conflict, which user group should be prioritized?

Having many people write a version of a design principle for each value can help to generate many good ideas. Voting can reveal a favorite, or all versions could be blended to produce a principle that everyone has had a hand in creating.

It’s a good idea to involve others in the creation of design principles, as they will be more likely to be accepted and adhered to. It is also a great way to set focus before building a new product or service or when onboarding new designers.

After producing design principles, ensure they’re not forgotten. Publish them in blogs or with your design system, regularly discuss your design principles in meetings, include them in presentation decks, or print them and stick them up on walls so designers know about them and can easily reference them. Most important, use the principles to explain and justify design decisions: when you make a trade-off decision, don’t just say, “we’re doing it this way because I say so” (or, “because it’s best” which is just a nicer way of saying the same). Say that we’re doing it because principle #3 tips the balance in favor of one of the options.

Design principles help to keep important values front and center in the design process. When successfully composed and used, design principles ensure consistency in decision making across designers and teams, removing the need to debate simple tradeoffs and letting designers worry about complex problems.

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Art and Design Principles and Their Effects Essay

Art is a word used to refer to various activities carried out by human beings to express personal thoughts, ideas, and emotions. Such activities include creations or expressions that reflect some importance in the minds of people due to the attraction that they have on the senses. Art covers sculpture, painting, music, and other forms. Design refers to a process used by artists to solve certain problems by creating changes so that they can be able to understand their needs (Gardner et al 123).

Principles of design are observations that artists put into consideration before creating their arts. One of such principles is balance. There are three types of balance. These include formal balance where similar objects are put on both sides of a middle point creating the asymmetrical design, informal balance where unlike objects are used and radial balance where like objects are arranged to bunch out from the middle point.

Rhythm is the second principle of design. Rhythms and in particular visual rhythms are created by a pattern formed when images, shapes, lines, and sounds are repeated and often reflect thoughts, ideas, and feelings of individuals. The third principle of design is emphasis. This refers to an area where the artist puts a lot of focus. It enables the viewers to classify different parts of art based on their importance. Emphasis can be created through location, contrast, convergence, or isolation.

The next principle is variety. Variety involves creating art with complex relationships. It may include the use of different colors, shapes, patterns, lines, and textures. Contrast is yet another principle that is used by artists. Contrast helps in emphasis, variation, and addition of interest which enables the user to develop a certain feeling in the work of art. Contrasts can be for emphasizing big or small differences. For instance, the use of very different colors shows high contrast and is used to show big differences while similar colors show low contrast and are used to show small differences.

The next principle is proportionality. Proportionality mainly deals with the size of one part of artwork about the other parts. Artists who are interested in producing practical works usually use accurate proportions. However, those who want to express humor and experience usually use distorted proportions. In addition, artists use harmony as a principle in creating their works. Harmony refers to the consistency of appearance in a work of art.

Realization of harmony may depend on the way images are arranged, different colors are matched, how interconnected shapes are repeated, and how the spacing between objects is done. Finally, we have the principle of unity. Unity is considered the most important of all the principles. It is through unity that different parts of art, work together to form one whole. Different elements, media, ideas, and principles are combined so that they all become equally important to the creation of artwork.

These principles have the following effects on artwork. Balance helps in identifying the central point of an object. Rhythm affects the feelings, thoughts, and ideas of people. Emphasis makes other parts of the work appear more important than others. The use of varieties and harmony in an artwork creates more interest in the work. Contrast creates emphasis on areas of differences and assumes other areas. Proportionality identifies where the artist is realistic or where he is expressing humor or experience and unity enables different parts of artwork to work together.

Generally, the use of the above principles is very important to the artists as they impose different effects on the artwork and make the whole work of artistry wonderful.

Works Cited

Gardner, et al, ed. Art Through the Ages . 12 th ed. Wadsworth, 2004.

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IvyPanda . "Art and Design Principles and Their Effects." October 15, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/art-and-design-principles-and-their-effects/.

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New report: Research and Innovation for Climate Neutrality by 2050: Challenges, opportunities and the path forward

Transforming Europe into a climate neutral economy by 2050 requires extraordinary efforts. Each sector must fundamentally rethink the way it operates to ensure that it can be transformed towards this new net-zero paradigm, without jeopardising other environmental and societal objectives, both within the EU and globally. Our ability to meet our climate neutrality target directly depends on our ability to innovate. However, the current level of innovation is insufficient to meet the net-zero challenge.

The aim of the report ‘ Research and Innovation for Climate Neutrality by 2050: Challenges, Opportunities and the Path Forward ’ is to provide policy recommendations regarding the design, principles and solution landscapes needed for a long-term, forward-looking R&I agenda to accelerate the transition to net-zero emissions. Through a methodological approach which combines literature review, climate neutrality scenarios analysis, foresight workshops and stakeholder engagement, the report focuses on broad high-risk (not yet close to market) R&I areas where significant investments are needed today to achieve maturity, commercialisation, and adoption in the coming 10-20 years.

The report advocates moving beyond the paradigm of individual technologies and embrace a systemic approach by focusing on goal-oriented R&I interventions, as well as considering how systemic interactions of climate mitigation approaches can be better integrated in the development of R&I programmes (thus considering socio-economic and technological challenges and opportunities, regulatory barriers/needs, enabling conditions and positive tipping points). To that end, the report identifies key R&I areas under 17 solution landscapes grouped under three key nexuses for climate neutrality, to better integrate systemic interaction of climate mitigation approaches in the design of R&I agendas: 

  • Mobility – Built environment – Energy nexus
  • Circularity – Industry – Carbon removals and capture nexus
  • Agrifood – Carbon removals nexus

In addition, the report:

  • Highlights some of the opportunities, barriers, and risks of general-purpose technologies (such as AI, synthetic biology, blockchain) in accelerating the net-zero transition.
  • Underlines the increasing importance and significant innovation efforts needed over the coming decade regarding carbon dioxide removal solutions.
  • Advocates the need for the EU to prioritise actions with key third countries to create competitive advantage across the international value chains emerging from the green transition.

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Read the report:  Research and Innovation for Climate Neutrality by 2050: Challenges, Opportunities and the Path Forward

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Department of City Planning Releases Principles of Good Urban Design Guidebook

Guidebook Democratizes Urban Design, Helps New Yorkers Incorporate Principles into Neighborhood Advocacy

New Principles Revamp and Expand 2017 Guidelines into Practical, Accessible Guide

Urban Design Guidebook Cover

NEW YORK – New York City Department of City Planning (DCP) Director Dan Garodnick today announced the release of the Principles of Good Urban Design , an illustrated guidebook that makes New York City’s urban design principles clear and accessible to the public. With the release of the guidebook, New Yorkers from all walks of life will be better able to put the Principles of Good Urban Design into action in their own communities, whether they’re planners, developers, civic leaders, or any New Yorker who wants to help shape the future of their neighborhood.

“New Yorkers know their neighborhoods better than anyone and it’s vital that we supply them with the planning tools to advocate for their priorities. With these Principles of Good Urban Design, we’re providing the public with a roadmap to improve the way our city looks and feels. Through these resources, we can all work together to get to yes on a more dynamic, greener, and more welcoming city,” said Department of City Planning Director Dan Garodnick .

“Every New Yorker deserves to engage in the decisions and processes that impact the design and livability of their neighborhood,” said New York City Executive Director for Housing Leila Bozorg . “I'm thrilled to see NYC Planning release these Principles, as they will serve as an important tool to help democratize the language of urban design, ultimately allowing more voices to shape our city's future.”

“New York City’s well-designed and welcoming public spaces are part of what make the city so special,” said New York City Chief Public Realm Officer Ya-Ting Liu . “The Principles of Good Urban Design showcase our shared values in designing and delivering high quality public spaces in a timely manner for all New Yorkers. We applaud Department of City Planning and all our agencies for their effort in moving this vision forward.”

“As New York City continues to execute complex coastal infrastructure and other climate projects while building in play, community, and open space access, this guidebook will be a critical tool,” said Mayor’s Office of Climate & Environmental Justice Executive Director Elijah Hutchinson . “Most important, it can be used by community leaders to advocate for air, noise, and extreme heat mitigation, which is especially important for those disproportionately burdened by climate hazards.”

“I congratulate the Department of City Planning on the launch of the Principles of Good Urban Design Guidebook. By centering communities and embracing their diverse perspectives in urban planning we can ensure their needs and aspirations shape the spaces designed for them. This process of co-designing is critical for trust between communities and government,” said Dr. Sarah Sayeed, Chair and Executive Director, New York City Civic Engagement Commission .

“The Principles of Good Urban Design guidebook should help New Yorkers for generations to come,” said New York City Department of Design and Construction Commissioner Thomas Foley . “As the City’s chief design and construction manager, it is our priority to deliver the best-in-class public works that enhance communities, and we know the importance of working with and taking into consideration the needs and opinions of our City’s vibrant and diverse communities. This guidebook will be an important resource to better create urban design and we thank DCP for this in-depth tool.”

“Community involvement is foundational to building strong and vibrant neighborhoods and every New Yorker must have the opportunity to participate in shaping the future of our city,” said New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development Adolfo Carrión Jr . “The Principles of Good Urban Design will serve as a powerful tool driving inclusive development that's greener, more accessible, and safe, while celebrating the city's history, culture, and identity.”

“It is essential that New Yorkers throughout the five boroughs have the right tools to help shape their neighborhoods,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) President & CEO Andrew Kimball . “Principles of Good Urban Design will give New Yorkers the resources to help addresses the near-term challenges in front of us while also continuing to build a vibrant, inclusive, and globally competitive economy for all New Yorkers.”

“In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the presence of green and open spaces becomes increasingly crucial. And as the City grapples with the impacts of climate change and severe weather, design practices must also emphasize sustainability to improve the lives of New Yorkers,” said New York City Department of Parks and Recreation Commissioner Sue Donoghue. “This guidebook highlights all of these principles and empowers New Yorkers with practical tools to help shape a greener, more resilient, and more equitable city for all.”

“Fostering a sense of belonging in our diverse neighborhoods is of utmost importance. The Urban Design Office, through the release of its Principles of Good Urban Design, and creation of an innovative public engagement platform, has led our city by example - demonstrating how centering the voices and values of New Yorkers in our city's design and planning processes can produce enduring civic spaces that serve generations to come,” said Sreoshy Banerjea, Executive Director of the New York City Public Design Commission .

New York State Empire State Development President CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said, “The public realm is the vibrant backdrop of our daily lives as New Yorkers. The Principles of Good Urban Design outlined in this guidebook provide both inspired vision and practical wisdom for enhancing our shared spaces over time. Whether applied to long-term planning or short-term projects, these principles can help make the public realm more equitable, resilient, and beautiful for all.”

This guidebook provides answers on what urban design means, and how planners consider everything from public input to environmental needs to a neighborhood’s history and culture to craft design recommendations that enhance communities. Beyond making it easier to get around and enjoy New York City, good urban design has a tremendously positive impact on our physical and mental health. It makes for a more beautiful and cleaner urban environment, generates economic activity, supports innovation, and encourages play.

The Principles of Good Urban Design help to democratize this aspect of planning with a set of shared values and language through which all New Yorkers can evaluate, discuss, and advocate for meaningful, lasting changes that improve the city’s urban landscape. The four principles are:

  • Enhance people’s daily lives – including with accessible, safe, high-quality public spaces
  • Care for a neighborhood’s history, culture, and identity – including by celebrating existing community spaces or natural resources
  • Embrace NYC’s dynamism – including with building designs that harmonize with older architecture
  • Confront society’s greatest challenges – including with resilient and public health-focused design decisions

Each of these principles can have an impact on parts of the city that New Yorkers experience in their daily lives: how space is used on a sidewalk, how parks and open space are laid out, how storefronts and ground floors of apartments interact with the public realm, and how architecture helps to determine the character of a neighborhood.

This release of the Principles of Good Urban Design guidebook is a significant expansion of the initial guidelines, published in 2017. In this guidebook, DCP has fully transformed the principles into a thorough, practical manual that can be applied to nearly any planning discussion in the five boroughs.

“AIANY is thrilled to host the NYC Department of City Planning’s Office of Urban Design for the launch of the Principles of Good Urban Design and Guidebook,” said Gregory Switzer, 2024 President, American Institute of Architects New York (AIANY) . “Clear, thoughtful urban design is critical to advancing equity, affordability, and sustainability. The Principles provide a toolkit for advocating for good design citywide that improves our public realm, upholds the identity of neighborhoods, drives innovation, and creates climate resilient buildings.”

“New York City’s diverse population is ever-changing,” said Howard Slatkin, Executive Director of Citizens Housing and Planning Council . “And the design of our city must continue to evolve along with it. In a city of 8.5 million residents and twice that many opinions, resources like this guidebook can provide a great public service by grounding our conversations and debates in a shared language that we can use to improve public design for our common benefit.”

“Equitable city planning that centers access to shared spaces creates thriving neighborhoods,” said Matthew Clarke, Executive Director of the Design Trust for Public Space . “NYC Planning's Principles of Good Urban Design will be an important tool for empowering all New Yorkers' participation in decisions about where we live and how community design can improve our collective health and wellbeing.”

“Good urban design is a critical component of city planning. MAS applauds the NYC Department of City Planning’s Urban Design Office for developing these defining principles. The fact that the principles were developed in conjunction with community members, city agencies, and design professions will ensure they will assist us in achieving our shared goals of a more livable city,” said Elizabeth Goldstein, President, Municipal Art Society of New York .

“When New York is inclusive, there’s nowhere quite like it. I’m grateful that the Department of City Planning cares deeply about our city’s history and culture, its rhythms and openness. Let’s hope every new development project embraces the Principles of Good Urban Design,” said Daniel McPhee, Executive Director of the Urban Design Forum .

Urban design plays an important role in many of the agency’s initiatives. For example, in DCP’s City of Yes for Economic Opportunity proposal, urban design is key to streetscape updates that provide more flexibility in some areas struggling to reach transparency goals and provide more predictability in other areas to ensure safe and active commercial corridors. And in City of Yes for Housing Opportunity , which looks to create a little more housing in every neighborhood, urban design will ensure the thoughtful crafting of building envelopes that respond to their surroundings.

The Principles of Good Urban Design guidebook is the result of input from New Yorkers via an interactive website launched in 2021. Much of the feedback DCP received reflected not only current urban design successes but also the challenges of a city recovering from the worst effects of the pandemic on public life. With the pandemic’s impact still felt today, it’s more important than ever to help New Yorkers get involved in shaping the building blocks of the city we share, as we collectively rethink how we use our public streets, sidewalks, and open spaces.

Department of City Planning The Department of City Planning (DCP) plans for the strategic growth and development of the City through ground-up planning with communities, the development of land use policies and zoning regulations applicable citywide, and its contribution to the preparation of the City’s 10-year Capital Strategy. DCP promotes housing production and affordability, fosters economic development and coordinated investments in infrastructure and services, and supports resilient, sustainable communities across the five boroughs for a more equitable New York City.

In addition, DCP supports the City Planning Commission in its annual review of approximately 450 land use applications for a variety of discretionary approvals. The Department also assists both government agencies and the public by advising on strategic and capital planning and providing policy analysis, technical assistance and data relating to housing, transportation, community facilities, demography, zoning, urban design, waterfront areas and public open space.


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  3. What are the 7 principles of design?

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  4. How to Write an Outline for an Essay (Examples and Template)

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  5. The 11 Principles of Design and Art [Infographics Included]

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  6. The 6 Principles of Design

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  3. Essay Structure

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  1. How to Structure an Essay

    The second principle is that background information should appear towards the beginning of your essay. General background is presented in the introduction. If you have additional background to present, this information will usually come at the start of the body. The third principle is that everything in your essay should be relevant to the thesis.

  2. Designing Essay Assignments

    Brief Guide to Designing Essay Assignments. A PDF version of the text above. Provides guidance on creating carefully crafted and explicit paper assignments that encourage students to write better papers. by Gordon Harvey Students often do their best and hardest thinking, and feel the greatest sense of mastery and growth, in their writing.

  3. What are the Principles of Design?

    Franks Spillers' design checklist is an example of customized design principles for mobile user experience (UX) design. In user experience (UX) design, minimizing users' cognitive loads and decision-making time is vital.The authors of Universal Principles of Design state that design principles should help designers find ways to improve usability, influence perception, increase appeal ...

  4. What Are the 7 Principles of Design?

    Principle 4: Repetition. In design, repetition is used to unify and strengthen a design. Unlike a pattern, where one thing is repeated consistently throughout a design, repetition is the repeated use of certain elements, like color, shape, or font. When repetition is used correctly, it creates consistency in a design.

  5. How to Write an Essay Outline

    Revised on July 23, 2023. An essay outline is a way of planning the structure of your essay before you start writing. It involves writing quick summary sentences or phrases for every point you will cover in each paragraph, giving you a picture of how your argument will unfold. You'll sometimes be asked to submit an essay outline as a separate ...

  6. The basic principles of design—and how to apply them

    The principles of design. These are the building blocks graphic designers and artists use to put creative works together; the core principles of art that make up every design, from the fine art of the Louvre to the boxes of Corn Flakes at the local grocery store.. Balance. Where objects in real life carry physical weight, elements in design carry visual weight.

  7. 7 Principles Of Design & How To Use Them in 2024

    Principles of design include emphasis, alignment and balance, contrast, repetition, proportion, movement, and white space. The better a designer focuses on these points, the better would be the final design. Companies are looking for experienced professionals in all fields these days. You need to be the best designer to get ahead of the ...

  8. The 12 Principles Of Design Explained: Complete Guide + Uses

    2. Balance. Source: InVision. Often underplayed as a designer's pet peeve, balance is as essential as the quality of the design itself. The best tip for implementing balance is to strive for both visual and conceptual balance in your designs. Achieving balance creates a sense of harmony, stability, and equilibrium.

  9. Essays as Design Theory. Why essayistic writing is an excellent…

    Essays and design have a similar nature — writing an essay is like designing a text. This closeness makes essayistic writing ideal for designers. ... As I have written before, 'one of the fundamental principles of design is a deep and meaningful connection between form and content; form should both reflect and shape content. ...

  10. The Principles of Design and Their Importance

    Balance. All design elements and principles—typography, colors, images, shapes, patterns, etc.—carry a visual weight. Some elements are heavy and draw the eye, while other elements are lighter. The way these elements are laid out on a page should create a feeling of balance. There are two basic types of balance: symmetrical and asymmetrical.

  11. What is good design?

    Good design is a concept defined by industrial designer Dieter Rams's principles: It makes a product useful and understandable, is innovative, aesthetic, unobtrusive, honest, long-lasting, thorough to the last detail, environmentally friendly, and involves as little design as possible. Designers strive for good design.

  12. The Origins of Design Principles: Where do… they all come from?

    As scholars have continued to engage in design science research (DSR) [], they have implicitly embraced the spirit of pragmatism [], and accepted design principles as the predominant way to capture prescriptive knowledge about the design of information systems artifacts [].Following their status as a customary and de facto norm for documenting and sharing knowledge from a DSR effort, there is ...

  13. A Brief Guide to Emphasis

    Emphasis is one of 13 principles of design, along with unity, rhythm, contrast, proximity, repetition, variety, alignment, proportion, white space, hierarchy, movement and balance. To understand emphasis, think like a reader. Emphasis is one of the most intimate principles of design because it requires you to put yourself in the minds of the ...

  14. PDF Chapter 28:Writing Essays About Design

    Chapter 2: "Researching and Defining the Problem" The essays should be based on good research and problem definition. Both essays will depend upon understanding what constitutes problems and solutions in human-centered design. Chapter 20: "Visual Communication" The essays should be formatted using the guidelines from this chapter.

  15. Understanding Principles of Design and Art Essay

    The principles of design in the painting are interconnected and necessary to understanding the composition's meaning. To summarize, Raphael utilized such principles as unity, balance, variety, contrast, and emphasis in The School of Athens. As a result, the audience can begin by viewing the whole image and then start to analyze details, such ...

  16. The Origins of Design Principles: Where do… they all come from?

    This essay reports the results of a reflective study to explore the question: where do… design principles come from? While a consensus is slowly emerging about the structure and content of ...

  17. The Principles of Design

    Emphasis and Focal Point. Emphasis gives prominence to part of a design. A focal point is a compositional device used to create emphasis. Both emphasis and focal point are used to attract attention and increase visual and conceptual impact. Emphasis by isolation. Emphasis by placement.

  18. What Are Gestalt Design Principles? A Complete Breakdown

    The seven Gestalt principles are Pragnanz, proximity, closure, similarity, continuity, symmetry and past experience, though many people don't consider Pragnanz a separate principle. Rather, Pragnanz comes from proper application of the six other principles of Gestalt. As discussed in this article, there are also reification, multistability ...

  19. Design Essays

    The following essays deal with what I feel are some important issues that deal with design education, research and practice. My hope is that each essay will succinctly put forth ideas and issues worthy of further consideration. Essay 1 Industrial Design: An Expanded Definition. Essay 2 Why We Design. Essay 3 Invention and Innovation. Essay 4

  20. Design Principles to Support Better Decision Making

    Product design principles (or, in short, design principles) are value statements that frame design decisions and support consistency in decision making across teams working on the same product or service. ... Be concise: Design principles are not meant to be an essay. Keep it short and to the point, to ensure they're easily understood ...

  21. Design Principles in Oldest Art

    Principles of Design. Principles of design are instinctive elements that guide artists in making decisions on the look and nature of any piece of art. The first part of the essay summarizes unity and variety, balance and rhythm as key principles of design. Unity makes a work of art have a sense of oneness.

  22. Art and Design Principles and Their Effects Essay

    The third principle of design is emphasis. This refers to an area where the artist puts a lot of focus. It enables the viewers to classify different parts of art based on their importance. Emphasis can be created through location, contrast, convergence, or isolation. The next principle is variety.

  23. Design principles Essay Example For FREE

    The last design principle is the principle of "as little design as possible" (Rams 1980) signifies "less, but better because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials" (Rams 1980). In another words, "super normal" (Fukasawa 2007) also means "less concerned with designing beauty ...

  24. Electrolyte design principles for low-temperature lithium-ion batteries

    Accordingly, we summarized recent emerging strategies in electrolyte design principles for low-temperature Li-ion batteries. It should be noted that any type of effective approach cannot be simply attributed to an improvement in one aspect. Based on current progress and understanding, we would like to propose several challenges for further ...

  25. PDF NYC.gov


  26. Antoine Predock, Architect Who Channeled the Southwest, Dies at 87

    His striking, acclaimed structures evoked the desert. But for major projects elsewhere in the world, he adopted the same principle: connecting buildings to their settings. By Fred A. Bernstein ...

  27. This Prophetic Academic Now Foresees the West's Defeat

    One is constantly reading in the papers that Vladimir Putin is a threat to the Western order. Maybe. But the larger threat to the Western order is the hubris of those who run it.

  28. New report: Research and Innovation for Climate Neutrality by 2050

    The aim of the report 'Research and Innovation for Climate Neutrality by 2050: Challenges, Opportunities and the Path Forward' is to provide policy recommendations regarding the design, principles and solution landscapes needed for a long-term, forward-looking R&I agenda to accelerate the transition to net-zero emissions. Through a ...

  29. Department of City Planning Releases Principles of Good Urban Design

    NEW YORK - New York City Department of City Planning (DCP) Director Dan Garodnick today announced the release of the Principles of Good Urban Design, an illustrated guidebook that makes New York City's urban design principles clear and accessible to the public.With the release of the guidebook, New Yorkers from all walks of life will be better able to put the Principles of Good Urban ...