Back to Basics: Design Principles that Work

As the internet grows as source of commerce and a launching pad for enterprises, it also offers more and more opportunities for designers to create stunning and attractive solutions for businesses looking to distinguish themselves from others.

This poses an interesting and exciting challenge to designers, who are working in a relatively new medium to meet the needs of their clients and constantly trying to push the envelope to catch the eyes, minds, and hearts of customers.

And while experimentation is necessary in any art form to keep it relevant, it is easy to lose sight of the fundamentals that built the art in the first place. Especially when working in such a virtual environment where new tools are available to the designer, keeping sight of the basic principles of design can get difficult.

Dieter Ram's 10 design principles...

No matter what tools are available to you, the principles that make design work will remain the same, and it is beneficial to review them occasionally, to contextualize the experimentation, and to understand why a daring or bold move you made works or doesn’t work.


Balance is the sense of harmony and proportion in composition that is usually expressed in the placement of objects within a space. There are several kinds of balance, but the principal kinds are found by situating objects symmetrically or asymmetrically across an axis, whether horizontal, vertical, or radial. Balance is perhaps the most important principle of design, as it is the hardest to achieve.


Rhythm is an offspring of balance, in that it is the repetition of elements in a space in a balanced manner. For a view to feel the rhythm of a composition, empty space is just as important as occupied space. Rhythm can have organic, geometric, or progressive expressions, but should always be balanced.


Proportion refers to the size of objects in relation to one another. It can also refer to the distribution of objects within a space in relation to other objects. Using objects of differing proportions can help create more dynamically balance compositions. Ultimately, dynamism is the aim of design.


Unity is a close cousin of balance, and in some ways underlies it, in that unity refers to the wholeness of a composition, how the parts work together to make the whole. A composition usually cannot be balanced if it is not unified, because if it is not unified, a view might interpret the viewed space as multiple spaces and feel lost.

Obviously, design is more than just these parts. A masterful designer will be able to boldly combine these principles with any tools and create a balanced composition that meets the needs of client, reflects the values and aesthetics of a business, and communicates those ideas to the public audience.

Mariana Ashley is a freelance writer who particularly enjoys writing about online colleges. She loves receiving reader feedback, which can be directed to mariana.ashley031


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