- Clearly conveys ideas and information
- Emphasizes the message
- Follows the basic principles of design
What constitutes good design?
The message must be clear. Whether a poster, brochure, logo, or Web site — the design should emphasize the message.
The basic principles of design apply to all design disciplines — writing, graphics, art and architecture, even fashion and poetry. The principles of design are tools we use to format the elements of design (color, shape, texture, etc.). Here are some of the essentials:
Balance is based on the notion, "the whole is the sum of its parts." Using balance, design elements or the "parts" are organized to create a whole that has equilibrium.
Similar to balance, good proportion maintains an agreeable relation of parts within the whole. It's the consideration of parts in relation to the whole.
Contrast, created when elements are combined, provides necessary variety. Without contrast, even good design can be boring (or worse, ineffectual). While balance and proportion help to maintain cohesiveness, contrast adds interest.
Economy is the same as the "less is more" principle. On average, simplicity tends to emphasize a design's intent more powerfully than complexity.
When elements are arranged well, "movement" or the illusion of direction is created. This helps lead the viewer's eye and can emphasize the design's intent.
Also known as dominance, this condition exists when design elements are arranged to create a hierarchy of visual importance. For example, the cover of a book might include a title, subtitle, and the author's name.
Perhaps most important to overall quality of design — as important as emphasis, but overlooked by many designers — is space. Including space (often called white space) in a design provides its other elements with all the characteristics listed above. More often than not, a design fails without space.
While the principles listed above are vital, they are not comprehensive. Thousands of books have been published on the subject of graphic design; depending on your interests and needs, seek out one or more of these for study.
Links to more information about graphic design are provided here.