Design Principles - Robin Williams

Once you can name something, you're conscious of it. You have power over it. You own it. You're in control...

The four basic principles
The following is a brief overview of the principles. Although I discuss each of these separately, keep in mind they are really interconnected. Rarely will you apply only one principle.


The idea behind contrast is to avoid elements on the page that are merely similar. If the elements (type, color, size, line thickness, shape, space, etc.) are not the same, then make them very different. Contrast is often the most important visual attraction on a page.


Repeat visual elements of the design throughout the piece. You can repeat color, shape, texture, spatial relationships, line thicknesses, sizes, etc. This helps develop the organization and strengthens the unity.

Nothing should be placed on the page arbitrarily. Every element should have some visual connection with another element on the page. This creates a clean, sophisticated, fresh look.

Items relating to each other should be grouped close together. When several items are in close proximity to each other, they become one visual unit rather than several separate units. This helps organize information and reduces clutter.

When culling these principles from the vast morass of design theory, I thought there must be some appropriate and memorable acronym within these conceptual ideas that would help people remember them. Well, uh, there is a memorable -- but very inappropriate -- acronym. Sorry.

The Non-Designers Design Book, Robin Williams