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

  1. Emphasis

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.

  1. 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.

  1. Contrast

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.

  1. Repetition

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.

  1. Proportion

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.

  1. Movement

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.

  1. 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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