The principles of graphic design – Insist on design excellence

Fast moving consumer goods packaging. Letterheads and office stationery. Social network banners. Logos, off the page advertising, leaflets and mailers. Email marketing campaigns. And, of course, websites. They all work a lot harder when they’re designed with the six principles of graphic design in mind. Without them a piece of marketing or communications collateral – whatever it is – will never do a great job. Just an OK job.

Get your website designed by us and you’ll get a beautiful website that also influences people’s actions in a wholly positive way. Here are the six principles of graphic design, and why you need to insist your website designer follows them… assuming they know about them in the first place. We do, of course, but not every website design company does.

Your website is worth it – The 6 principles of graphic design

What are the six design principles we work to for every project we handle?

  1. Balance
  2. Proximity
  3. Alignment
  4. Repetition
  5. Contrast
  6. Space

These are our building blocks. The way we apply them drives both a design’s appeal and its commercial success.

Balance – The right balance gives a design essential visual stability and structure. For example when you place a big shape in the middle of a design, you might balance it with a smaller shape near the edge. It’s a weight thing, where the emphasis of the design is fairly distributed and visually pleasing. You might not notice when the balance is perfect, but you’ll definitely notice if it’s wrong. It will look nasty, offending your eye in a fundamental even if you’re not sure why.

Proximity – Proximity doesn’t mean the elements of your design have to be squashed close together. It’s about achieving a pleasing relationship between the design’s elements to provide a focal point, connecting them visually in some way. Proximity also means grouping elements together in such a way that they guide or drive viewers to various parts of the message, in the order you want.

Alignment – Alignment means creating the right level of order and organisation, again so the different elements of the design are visually connected with each other in a way that draws the observer’s eye in the correct way. Inexperienced designers tend to align everything in the centre of the page, but there’s a whole lot more to it than that.

Repetition – Repeated key elements in a design can be very appealing to the human eye, since we’re natural pattern-makers. Repetition strengthens a design by joining individual elements together, creating consistency and making a clear, strong association between them. It actually delivers a rhythm, a feeling of movement, something that humans unconsciously respond very well to.

Contrast – Contrast is about much more than making sure you can read text and see images properly against the background. It means juxtaposing opposing elements, for example colours found on diametric opposite sides of a colour wheel, or horizontals and verticals. Contrast is one of the best ways to highlight important design elements, making them stand out and get noticed.

 Space – Space isn’t just a lack of something. Space is a living thing, more than a mere negative. It’s about manipulating the distance, and the size of that distance, between design elements, around them, above and below them, even within them. Both positive and negative space are important for good design. Inexperienced graphic designers tend to be scared of white space, filling it up with stuff. Good designers know the power of white space and how it can make a vital message stand out with remarkable clarity.  And they recognise that white space itself can be harnessed to create a powerfully dramatic contrast.

Don’t do it like that. Do it like this!

With proper, experienced, talented graphic designers on your web design and website development case, the end result will perform a whole lot better than something designed by an amateur. When looking for a professional web design agency in Oxford or beyond, reject anyone who doesn’t know the six principles of graphic design off pat.