Principles of Design
1st edition — by Patrick McNeil — Nov. 27, 2007
One of the topics which I have long wanted to cover is the basic principles of design. My approach to design analysis and learning has always been from a sample stand point. That is to say I much prefer to analyze samples of design and how they address various topics instead of abstract talk about vague topics. The basics are no different. I believe that through the analysis of sample sites we can all get a refresher on the basic underlying principles of design. This is not only good for the beginner, but also the more advanced designer. I often find that when I go back to the basics I find something new that I didn't get before.
For the basic principles covered here I turned to the book Basics of Design by Lisa Graham. It is the book I used in school and has always served as a basic reference point for me. According to Graham the basic principles are emphasis, contrast, balance, alignment, repetition and flow. All design is built on these basic blocks, and the more thought that is put into those elements the better the design will be. It seems that design goes astray when this is forgotten. By returning to the fundamentals we can refocus our eyes and minds when producing design.
For a long time now I have been building out these sets of samples, I have tried really hard to get the very best examples of each topic. I also made a large effort to create a diverse set of examples demonstrating the principles in an assortment of usages. These sets are by no means huge, instead they are small focused sets which demonstrate the power of each principle. I will post the first three principles this week, and the remaining three next week.
Check out the first chapter on emphasis.