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5 Basic Principles of Design you can use to improve your Design skills.

At the time I was going to college, I took a Basic Design course so I was able to learn everything there was about design. One of the things that stuck with me was the basic principles of design. I hear many newbie designers that want to learn about the principles of design, but don’t have the funds or time to take a college course. However, I decided to share my knowledge of the 5 basic principles of design so other designers can learn and use it in their future designs.

Why Learn about them?

Learning about the principles of design gives you the ability to think like a designer. It will help with the overall composition and layout in all of your work. When working on your next project, think of ways to apply the 5 principles and you will start creating wonderful compositions.

"Learning about the Principles of Design gives you the ability to think like a designer." - Click to tweet


The word "Proximity" means nearness. In design all you have to do is make sure related items are grouped together. It can be related images, texts or shapes like the example below.

See how I grouped together related texts and shapes such as the squares and the info. Using proximity will make your designs easier to understand right at the first glimpse.


Alignment is something to always consider in your designs. It is used all the time automatically in emails, documents and powerpoints. However, some of your designs you might have to guess the alignment of your text or shape.

It can be tricky to get it right, but you can make things easier by using the alignment tools in your design program or by imagining/using a grid in your designs.

Pay attention to details and stay consistent with the alignments of your design and you will create professional, organized compositions.


Contrast is a great way to create a focal point in your designs. It is the one element that catches the eye first. You can create contrast by using color, value, texture, shape, and size.

If there is something in your design that you want to call attention to, use contrast in order to make your message more effective.


Visual Hierarchy is the direction from one to another. From most important to the least or vice versa. It is a visual technique that helps your audience find their way around your work.

How do you create Hierarchy you ask?

It’s pretty simple… all you need to do is decide which parts of your design are most important and make them stand out. You can do so by creating emphasis on these important elements by contrast, placement, or isolation.

"Hierarchy is pretty simple… all you need to do is decide which parts of your design are most important and make them stand out."

- Click to tweet


Placement is achieved by having one element placed somewhere and have other elements point to it.


Isolation keeps one important element isolated or away from the rest of the group to show its importance.


Repetition gives you the ability to have every project with a similar look by repeating elements in certain designs.

When creating a web page or ebook, you might choose to repeat the header style to keep a consistent look or composition.

Even repeating your brand colors in your projects is an example of repetition.

It will give your audience an idea of what to look for at a glance, making it easier to read.


A design or composition should be balanced. The three to consider are Symmetrical, Asymmetrical, and radial. You don’t want an unbalanced composition, for it will confuse your audience. Balance can be created by color, type, shapes, and sizes.


Symmetrical is similar elements facing eachother on or around an axis. It’s like a mirror image.


When each side of an axis is different, but still gives you a sense of balance.


Radial balance is when all elements of a design circle out from the center point. It brings the audiences eye to the center of the design, creating the focus point.

Good examples of radial balance are designs of daisies and wheels.

Everything Together

The principles of design will help you create great pieces of work and give you the ability to think like a designer. All you have to do is pay attention to some details and you will have yourself beautiful, organized, and professional compositions.

Feel free to comment below something that stuck with you after reading or maybe you have a design that works as a great example . I’d love to hear your thoughts on the 5 basic principles of design.

** Look out for a content upgrade of this post. I may create a pdf version of this post so you can print and read the principles when ever you need some freshen up.


Branding and Web Development by Kristy Brown.


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