6 Basic Graphic Design Principles


Learning and following a few basic design principles is the best way to instantly improve your designs. Most of the top designers in the world follow these rules – and that is why they’re the best! They also know how to break the rules, which is something you’ll be able to do successfully once you’ve mastered how to follow them.



Balance is the equal distribution of visual weight in a design. A large shape close to the center can be balanced by a small shape close to the edge. This provides stability and structure to the design. If the user’s eye is drawn to one side of your design more than the other, and information is being missed, you may have an imbalance of visual elements



Proximity is all about creating relationships between elements. Grouping elements that are similar creates a focal point and guides the viewer through the page. Utilizing this principle can also ensure your user isn’t missing any important information.



Alignment helps create order and organization. Aligning elements correctly helps guide the users eye and creates a visual connection between elements. At best, poor alignment can be distracting, but worse, it cause confusion and frustration and lead your user away from your design.



Repetition is used to tie individual  elements together. It helps to create association and consistency. Repetition can create rhythm and place emphasis on certain elements.



Contrast is using opposing elements, such as colors, values, weights, or directions. Contrast can be used to emphasize or highlight key elements in a design. For example, using dark text on a light background makes the text stand out and easier to read.



Space is the distance or area between, around, above, below, or within elements. Both positive and negative space are important factors to be considered in design. Using space wisely can help guide the user through the elements, creating hierarchy and conveying the most important pieces of the message.


When designing, be sure to refer to these basic principles. Keeping them in mind will help you create a compelling and effective design. Happy designing!

You might also want to check out one of my favorite books on these (and other) design principles:

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