Design Elements & Principles6 min read

By 13 September 2020 September 14th, 2020 Design, Ecommerce
Design Elements & Principles

If you are new to the otherwise simple-seeming world of creating a business on the web, aka the e-commerce business, you are probably still learning a lot on how to get your business up and running. One of the very important factors to deal with even in the initial stages of a business is design. Great visuals for ads, marketing, promotions, awareness, everything needs designing.  But what really makes a great design? How to create the visual material that stands out and helps your e-commerce business boom?

Well, unlikely to what you might have thought, designing is a little more tricky than it may appear on the surface. For a phenomenal design, the basic principles of design should be known and understood before wanting to mend them. Even as per Wikipedia, “The best designers sometimes disregard the principles of design. When they do so, however, there is usually some compensating merit attained at the cost of the violation.”

Principle of Design

The principle of a design is the implementation of the elements. It is how a designer uses the elements to create an appealing, message-conveying visual.

Principles and Elements of Design Put Together

The elements and principles of design combined together constitute a set of guidelines that could be called your bible to create visuals that matter. The guidelines are purposed to help you create aesthetic and attractive visuals.

The difference between elements and principles of design is that principles are the “rules” while elements help you follow the rules for the most outstanding design.

Though the principles can be mended a little here and a little there, they have been invented in the first place to create an effective visual representation of ideas. It is only when the elements and principles are rightfully combined that the desired end-result can be achieved.

So let’s talk about the relevant principles of design – the most basic albeit- to help you through your designing decisions.

Principles of Design: Consider these principles the 7 commandments of the Bible of Design

1. Balance

You may have at times looked a banner or a poster and felt that something was wrong about it. You inspect closely but you still fail to find a solid flaw. It is just the overall look and vibe of the poster that does not make sense to you. That is an unbalanced composition of the design. 

A balanced composition, on the other hand, when you look at a poster or a banner, and everything about it feels just in place. Balance in design is an essential principle to swear by as this determines what the end product is going to be like – appealing or appalling? Balance can be achieved by correctly weighing in the elements through symmetry, asymmetry, or radial symmetry. Icons, colors, textures, shapes, objects, and values can also bring in balance to a design.

2. Repetition

Nobody likes monotony and repetition in design. However, when it comes to your brand, you will need repetition and monotony with certain elements to maintain consistency which leads to brand recognition.

Hence, the right way to monotony and repetition in design is when you do not make it boring. Bring in some variations while also keeping certain elements standard across all designs. For example, the Happy Meal package of Mc Donald is sold in a standard, uniform shape globally. However, the elements inside (the Happy Meal toy) is variated every few weeks.

3. Contrast

In a design, at times, you might want to emphasize one key element more than others. Contrast works best in such cases. The principle of contrast lets you have one element of the design pop out and help grab people’s attention. By playing with the contrast of the image, you could be emphasizing the logo, the witty text of the banner, or maybe just the color of the label.

Contrast allows you to draw all interest in your business just by looking at the promotional posters or banners. You basically distinguish one element from another which is noticeable and hence, draws attention. For example, the well-contrasted apple logo on all hoardings, packages, and even on the product! This is a dark vs light contrast practice. Other common forms of contrast are large vs. small, or thick vs. thin and color contrasts. Contrasting also, in cases, improves the design’s readability.

4. Emphasis

While contrast is about highlighting one element more than the other, emphasis on the one core area of your design. This is usually the most important or the unique proposition that you want your brand to be remembered for. 

For example, if you are a vegan cake company, which is unusual, you would want to lay emphasis on VEGAN CAKE on your packaging. This could be done by using bold color and font to let this information pop out or, maybe, even by using a bigger font size. Think of Burger King? The first thing that comes to your mind is the huge burgers you’ve seen on their ads. That is the principle of emphasis in designing.

5. Movement

A lot of ‘movement’ in design refers to a visual static. This is when a design seems to be moving or a lot of movement seems to be happening in a design piece while actually it is all still. This movement happens not because of any extra-ordinary technique. It is created with the use of lines shapes, edges, and color.
Movement is the path the viewer’s eye takes through the work of art, often to focal areas.
Hence, for your designs, you can use movement to take the viewer’s eye to the area where you want it to be.

6. Unity

Unity of a design is the balance of elements and principles. It is how they come together to yield a desirable end result. You would have at least once stumbled on a design that looked very random. The font, colors, placement – everything would have seemed off place. Such designs lack “unity” in them.

For a design to be aesthetically pleasing, it is important that all the visual elements you use in your design should be connected to one another. Unity also yields neater, cleaner, and organized designs that put out the message effectively. If you do not follow unity, you might be risking your potential buyers skipping or ignoring your business ad, just because it doesn’t look inviting.

7. Rhythm

Just how the empty spaces in a piece of music make up a rhythm, spaces between design elements can give rhythm to a visual. Visual rhythms can be regular, flowing, progressive, random, and alternating.

A Regular rhythm in design is when the spacing of all elements is standard. Flowing rhythm is when you feel like the design is moving or flowing. The Progressive rhythm is all about change, variation, and iteration at each step.  And, Alternating rhythm uses a set of patterns used across the design for a concise end result. Hence, with a sense of rhythm in your designs, there’s so much more depth that can be introduced.

Rhythm may be applied in bold statements for an obvious suggestion about a path of travel of the viewer’s eye. Or else, it can also be discreetly applied to move the viewer’s eye about a space without them even realizing rhythm in the picture exists. 

Final Thoughts-

The principles, at the end of the day, are rules. These rules can sure be followed on one’s will and discretion. The rules in graphic design, however, exist so that they can work beneath the surface as a foundation to yield a stunning, balanced, and stable design for you. If principles are not adhered to or if ignored more than considered, the ultimate design could be weak and ineffective.

Using the principles of design for the purposes of an eCommerce business can actually work as a hack that produces the perfect looking promotional images. Well though of design for a banner or an ad can gather a lot of user attraction as what appeals to the eye is what is clicked on!

Leave a Reply