the principles of design: balance

So what are the principles of design and why do they matter?

Simply put, the principles of design are the building blocks of good design in page layout, or in any work of art. When used together with thought and purpose, the principles can yield very strong compositions that please the eye and interest the viewer.

The first principle is BALANCE:

In page design, balance can be achieved with a heading, body text and a strong image. There are two kinds of balance: symmetrical and asymmetrical. Here is an illustration from Wikipedia that illustrates the difference.

Asymmetric (PSF).svg

When elements are placed together on a page with little thought, the elements can often look disjointed and leaves the viewer unimpressed or even uncomfortable. Some dominant elements will ‘steal the thunder’ of others, leading the eye away from other elements that should be seen.

Below we see two examples of the same page. The page on the left, lacks focus and feels somewhat dead. The heading, body copy and image have been plunked onto the page without any thought. It’s dull and unimaginative.

With some thought and a little effort, this page can be easily reworked to give a better sense of balance. Moving elements closer together and resizing them (usually larger – big images always rock), plus carefully using colour in selected areas can be very helpful for achieving a good overall balance. What we really want are pages that look harmonious and aesthetically pleasing.

Next time you are working on a simple page design, take the time to balance your elements, whether they are symmetrical or asymmetrical… with a little extra effort and some time, you will clearly see the difference!
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