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12 Important Principles of Design [Hapy Guide 2024]

Written By Zainab Aftab | Last Modified On April 22, 2024

Creating beautiful and attractive designs which are able to capture customers to your website, app, or platform, is not a simple task. A good website design requires careful consideration of many things. For this reason, we have principles of design to guide us about how to create valuable designs for our customers and audience. These are some basic and fundamental rules which are not hard to follow.

In this blog, you will be able to learn the basic principles of design and how to apply them to create highly attractive and scalable interface designs.

What Is Meant by a “Good Design”?

A “good design” is like a piece of art with deep meaning. A good design in software products is created with a correct composition of elements integrated with each other. It transforms user requirements into design elements which enhances the user experience (UX).

You will have to communicate your ideas, requirements, and vision for the design to software developers before jumping into the design phase. But also your design goals should be driven by your user research. Understanding what the audience wants is the most important part of creating good designs.

Once you will learn different types of designs, you will better understand the requirements for a good design at different levels. But one thing that remains common in all is the clear communication of the idea behind design through visual elements. So always focus on the visuals from a user’s perspective.

Read more about: How to Design a Website in 15 Steps?

What Are Design Principles?

Design principles are guidelines for developing user interfaces and other aspects of digital products. They’re used in all kinds of industries, from software to hardware. The original designers of the principles were computer scientists who developed them as a way to communicate their ideas about how to design the interfaces of computer programs.

Web designers use design principles when they create websites because they help them create a consistent experience across multiple pages. The design principles of software are just as much about the way it works as they are about how it looks.

In the same way that you wouldn’t build a house without considering the principles of architecture, you can’t just throw together some code without considering its interaction with other elements on your site.

There’s a lot to consider when you’re designing a website: what should it look like? How should it function? What content should be there? What features do I need to make sure are available for users? All these things have to work together in harmony if your website is going to work properly, and that means knowing how each element interacts with one another.

Importance of Design Principles

Design principles are important because they help you create better products. Design principles are good in that they help you create something that is unique, but also something that has a lot of utility. The idea here is that when you design something, it should be useful and functional.

These principles are important for a number of reasons. First, they provide a framework for understanding and predicting what will happen when you apply certain principles to your design. Second, focusing on the principles of design helps you avoid wasting time and money on designs that do not meet your needs. And third, the principles of design can help you improve your ability to communicate your ideas—which is a critical skill that designers need to master in order to be successful.

Rams’s 10 Product Design Principles

In the 1970s, Dieter Rams, an influential designer came up with his own 10 principles of design that helped him solve design problems. These principles were learned and followed by generations. Even the designer behind Apple’s most famous products has been inspired by these principles.

Here is the list of Rams’s 10 principles that will help you make good designs. He states that a good design is:

  1. Innovative
  2. Make a product useful
  3. Aesthetic
  4. Make a product understandable
  5. Unobtrusive
  6. Honest
  7. Long-lasting
  8. Thorough down to the last detail
  9. Environment friendly
  10. As little design as possible.

What Is the Difference Between the Principles of Design and the Elements of Design?

Designers have a lot to think about, and sometimes it’s hard to keep everything straight in your head. The elements of design are the actual parts of a design, while the principles of design are the overarching ideas that make up a design. They’re both important, but they’re different things.

Elements of design are like the building blocks of a design—the way we break down our projects into smaller pieces before we start putting them together. Elements include color palettes, fonts, and imagery.

Principles of design are like the big picture—what you see when you look at something as a whole. It’s important to have both elements and principles in mind when you’re designing because they work together to create a cohesive experience for your users or customers. It’s also helpful that they can be interdependent; if there’s a problem with one element of your design (like an unappealing font or color), then your principles will help you figure out how to solve it!

12 Main Principles of Design

Moving on to the main topic of this article that is “what are the 12 universal principles of design?”, let’s study each one in detail:

  • Emphasis
  • Balance
  • Movement
  • Proportion
  • Repetition
  • Hierarchy
  • Contrast
  • White Space
  • Rhythm
  • Variety
  • Unity
  • Pattern

1- Emphasis

In design, you need to focus on capturing the viewer’s attention on a certain part of the design composition. For this, artists and designers use emphasis to manipulate certain elements of design and make them stand out. These elements could be color, shape, size, etc.

For example, if website designers want certain elements of their homepage to stand out then they optimize their positions so that it’s easier for users to navigate or use colors that would immediately capture the visitor’s attention. This technique is called ’emphasis’.

Also Read: 17 Web Design Mistakes You Should Try to Avoid

2- Balance

Visual elements of design carry visual weight. How much weight each element is supposed to carry depends upon its purpose in design and how much attention it can draw. Designers use the visual balance to ensure their design is equally weighted on each side of a central point.

Managing balance in your visual design makes it less cluttered for the viewer and ensures visual harmony. There are three different forms of balance in design:

1- Radial Balance

When certain elements of your design radiate from the center point, it is called ‘radial balance’. This way of symmetry adds depth to the flow of elements and captures attention to the center of the composition.

2- Symmetrical Balance

Symmetrical balance designs the elements into two halves from a central point with a vertical or horizontal line. This is an imaginary line that helps designers to ensure equal symmetry and visual weight on each side of the axis.

3- Asymmetrical Balance

Asymmetry frequently makes for a more eye-catching design. Asymmetrical balance can give designs a more dynamic sense, whereas symmetrical balance can make designs feel fairly rigid and predictable. When a composition utilizes pieces with different weights, it is said to be asymmetrical. A visually dominant element on one side might be balanced by a number of lighter pieces on the other.

3- Movement

Next, we have a movement that is also an important principle. Movement doesn’t mean a heavy flow of objects in your design. In design, it describes the course a viewer’s eye takes when they scan a composition.

The way you look at something matters more than just what you see. By employing lines, edges, shapes, and colors to establish emphasis points and promote particular ways of seeing, designers can influence this.

Motion can be used to divert, focus, and draw the viewer’s attention around a design. A skilled artist may manage this entire process by employing subtle clues, especially with lighting and perspective. Lines can be used to establish directional signals and breathe life into static images.

4- Proportion

Proportion is used to create a relationship between two or more design elements. Two elements are made proportionate to each other to create a sense of coordination between them and make the overall design look aesthetically pleasing. You can take the example of structural hierarchy in the content of a blog post by using H1,H2,H3 headings.

Proportion makes elements look as if they belong to each other. This is also used by UX designers to create a better user experience as it makes it easier to evaluate UX elements. Additionally, you may experiment with proportions in a number of ways to highlight certain details or convey a particular message. It’s a tactic you’ll see employed frequently in commercials, and it works best for more imaginative projects.

5- Repetition

When an element appears repeatedly throughout a design, this is known as repetition. Anything from utilizing a specific font color to using a repeating pattern in a social media post could be considered an example of repetition. Repetition gives designs a sense of coherence and excitement. The use of a recurring motif that the observer learns to anticipate also fosters a sense of consistency. This makes it very helpful for developing your distinctive brand identity.

6- Hierarchy

Visual hierarchy is the organization of the relative importance of the components in your design. Making it simpler for the viewer to understand your material is to order the information from most important to least significant. This is important for UI and UX design.

There are a number of tricks that you can use to influence hierarchical flow. These tricks focus on optimizing size and scale, color and contrast, white space, and fonts.

7- Contrast

When two or more visual elements in a composition are dissimilar from one another, contrast is created. It can be utilized to produce particular effects, highlight the importance of particular components, and improve the aesthetic appeal of your designs. You may spice things up by experimenting with contrasting color shades, shapes, sizes, textures, and fonts. People tend to enjoy the contrast. It’s a fantastic method to draw viewers in, manage the visual flow, and keep them interested.

8- White Space

The space between different objects or elements in a design is called ‘white space’ or sometimes ‘negative’. This part does not contain any animations, images, composition, or elements. It is a very important feature of the design that has to be managed well.

White space comes in two types: mega and micro. Micro white space is the region between tiny items (like text), whereas macro white space is the space around a design or in between huge features.

9- Rhythm

In design, rhythm is used to make your design look alive by giving it an illusion of movement and action. The technique of rhythm also uses lines, shapes, colors, and other elements to create the right composition. This makes your users follow a certain path when they visit your content. There are four basic types of rhythm.

  • Flowing rhythm – has natural patterns like stripes, lines, circles, etc in organic intervals.
  • Random rhythm – has repeating elements without any intervals.
  • Progressive rhythym – has a natural sequence of elements that gradually changes in a series of steps like color gradients.
  • Regular rhythm – has elements of similar size and length that are spread over regular intervals.

10- Variety

To keep things aesthetically exciting for your readers, it’s crucial to avoid using the same old design elements repeatedly which is why we use the variety principle. It prevents designs from becoming predictable, dull, and stagnant—all things you want to avoid. Making ensuring that the elements are diverse prevents designs from feeling uninspired and repetitive.

11- Unity

Unity adds order and makes a workplace feel like a cohesive whole, rather than a jumbled collection of distinct components that happen to be on the same page. It is philosophically and visually developed. It only happens when all the many components of design work together to provide a seamless, aesthetically pleasing experience.

Difference Between Visual Unity and Conceptual Unity

Visual unity is when the same image is seen from a single vintage point. Conceptual unity is when a viewer has to imagine what something looks like from multiple perspectives and then combine them into one image. The main difference between these two types of unity is how much time each takes up in the design process: visual unity requires more time than conceptual unity does. For example, if you want to make a visual unity piece (say, an illustration), you will spend a lot more time sketching out ideas for what you want the illustration to look like.

12- Pattern

Lastly, we have a pattern in design. A pattern is made up of many elements repeated in the same way, unlike repetition, which happens when the same elements are repeated repeatedly throughout a design. A pattern can be seen in the manner that present wrapping often consists of a few different pieces that are repeated.

You’ll also see patterns that are frequently utilized in mobile applications and as website backdrops. Generally speaking, it’s preferable to design patterns using colors, textures, and forms. Avoid doing it with words; it usually simply causes people headaches. Despite the occasional use of vivid colors and bizarre patterns, simplicity is the key to successful pattern design.

How To Put These Design Principles to Work?

Design principles are an essential tool for any designer, whether you’re a newbie or an experienced veteran. They help you build a stronger foundation for your designs, which in turn helps you make better decisions. Let’s talk about how to use design principles for practical implementation.

Least Effort

The idea is that you should spend your time and energy on the things that matter most. Things like the actual content of your site or app, not the design (or even copy!). You want to keep your focus on what matters most—the user experience—and not get distracted by superficial details.


You have to keep things as clear as possible so that users can easily understand what they need to do next, or how they’re supposed to use your product/service. It’s all about making sure that everything works well together so that no one gets lost in the process of getting things done (like clicking through menus).


Lastly, keep things simple—and not just in terms of design! It’s also about making sure all parts of the system work together smoothly without confusion or frustration on behalf of customers or users themselves.


Design principles are a great way to make designing simple. If you’re new to the concept of design principles, here’s what they are: design principles are a set of guidelines that help designers think through how they can improve their designs. They cover things like usability, user experience, and even typography.

Designers have used these principles for years now because they work. They work in terms of making sure that your designs are usable, user-friendly, and effective communication tools for your users. When you use design principles like these, you can rest assured knowing that your product will be easy for people to understand and use correctly.


What Were Gestalt Principles of Design?

Gestalt’s principles of visual design are similarity, continuation, closure, proximity, figure, symmetry, and order. They are really beneficial for increasing user attraction and are also simple to apply in your design.

What Is the Relation Between Elements of Art and Principles of Design?

Artists use visual tools like elements of art to optimize the line, shape, color, value, form, texture, and space of design whereas principles of design are a rulebook to follow while optimizing designs for better user experience and gaining higher user attraction.

What Is the Purpose of Principles of Design?

The principles of design aim to communicate the desired message to your users in an organized and simpler way. They put together all elements of design in one picture and help you to better achieve your specified target.