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Whether you are looking at a giant billboard along the freeway or checking out a magazine in your local convenience store you will find that one thing always remains constant – good design definitely gains your attention and keeps you hooked to whatever you are reading.

Good design is all about hooking your attention and keeping you interested for longer. In the business sense, it is all about capturing the attention of your customers and keeping them interested in whatever you want them to see so that you elicit the right reaction.

To get the required attention for your designs, then you need to understand that there are certain rules that a designer must follow. Remember that humans rely on their eyes 85 percent of the time to get information that will help them make decisions.

These principles, if followed properly and applied the right way, help ensure success in whatever designs you decide to present to your audience.

Here are the top principles that you need to consider when coming up with winning designs.

1. ## Balance

Balance refers to how items are arranged on the underlying canvas. It refers to the concept of equilibrium – which ultimately results into visual stability. To achieve balance, you have to consider two ways – symmetry and asymmetry.

Remember that if you don’t achieve balance, the items that make the design will look out of place (or distorted).

• Symmetrical balance – this is where the weight is distributed equally considering a central point. Symmetrical balance can either be vertical or horizontal.
• Asymmetrical balance – here, the items are placed on the canvas in such a way that objects of varying weight cancel out each other around a central point.
1. ## Proportion

This concept refers to the relative sizes of the various components of the design. It refers to the relationship between objects or parts of objects in reference to a common item. Traditionally, we use the human body as the common standard to size other objects around us.

To create a relationship, you need to place two elements together on the design. When the relationship is correct between the various elements on the design surface, then the relationship is seen to be harmonious. In this way, the elements are correctly sized and distributed.

Proportion comes into being when you consider the following aspects:

• The height, width and depth of an element in respect to another.
• The size of one area in relation to that of another area.
• The size of an object in relation to another.
• The amount of space between the different elements in the design.

When the proportion is wrong, then you will notice it after the design is complete. In this case, the element is said to be out of proportion.

1. ### Emphasis

This is the art of making an element stand out or draw attention more than other elements on the same design. You can achieve emphasis by placing elements strategically on the page in positions that draw the attention of the eyes naturally.

You can use various approaches to achieve emphasis, depending on the elements you use in the design. For instance, if you are using text, incorporate bold or italic type to provide needed emphasis. For graphic elements, use size, color, visual weight, placement, complexity and other features to bring out emphasis.

1. ### Contrast

Contrast in design comes by when two elements that are somehow related are shown to be different. The more you bring out the differences the greater the contrast. Using contrast draws the viewers’ attention and guides them around the design piece.

When using visual elements, go for different colors, shapes, sizes, locations and relationships to bring out the contrast. You can go for contrasting colors that are usually opposite each other on the color wheel.

For text, you can achieve contrast by mixing fonts, using different font styles or using the fonts in exciting ways.

1. ### Unity

Once you apply all the design principles, then you end up with unity. Unity comes by when there is harmony between all the design principles are used correctly on a page. Remember to choose elements that will add some value to your design. Each component that you choose ought to complement the theme of the design and have a function on the design.

To achieve unity, you have to undertake extensive practice, know the right visual elements and use them while applying the main design principles to them.

The principles of design need to complement one another rather than fight for the attention of the viewer. Additionally, when you use unity, all your visual items come with a sense of order to them. The shapes will be consistent, well balanced throughout the design making it the best design.

1. ### Movement

To achieve movement, you have to use repetition or create instability within the image – for instance, adding a blur to the image. You can also use graphic elements that direct the viewer’s eyes to a specific direction, such as the use of an arrow or a series of dots that grow progressively smaller.

You can also create the sense of movement by using an element of the image moving, for instance such as a runner rather than something that is stationary. When elements move past at a high speed, you anticipate blurry motion. You can add blur to images using common image editing programs. If you have seen ads for automobiles, then you can relate to the use of blur to imply a car that is in motion.

1. ### Repetition

Repetition is a great tool to lead the viewer’s eye across the page. However, you need to make sure the repetition is varied so that it doesn’t become monotonous. The use of variation determines how mast you want the people to be exposed to your content, for instance, the more the repetition you use, the faster the audience will adapt to your design.

## Conclusion

To create harmony and bring out the intended effect, you need to make sure you incorporate the different design principles in any page you come up with.

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#### Stefan Campbell

Correspondent at The Small Business Blog
The Small Business Blog was started in 2009. Aiming to start, help, and grow small and medium sized businesses.