From a purely psychological perspective in human relationships, any imbalance in power is sure to create tension. While this phenomenon often leads to unsuccessful relationships between people, the concept is easy to understand — and we can apply the same principles to design.
Within graphic design, imbalanced layouts also create tension. Unlike personal relationships, this tension can be used strategically for a desired result. Different patterns can be built, space can be easily manipulated, and you can draw the viewer’s eye to certain elements within the design to add weight or importance.
By experimenting with these techniques and keeping certain design principles in mind, you can find a unique balance and harmony within your design to better communicate the message effectively.
- Utilize white space
- Rule of Thirds
- Rule of Odds
Particularly with web design, understanding how asymmetry or visual imbalance can impact the user’s experience can lead to a visually interesting layout where individual elements have exceptional weight.
Keep in mind that most imbalanced designs inherently suggest movement of fast-paced action, as a viewer’s eye is drawn to more heavily weighted elements. Conversely, harmonious designs will include images that relate to and fully complement one another. Think to yourself, which of these styles will best match your message and brand?
Like in music, rhythm in design signifies repetition and a predictable format for viewers to experience the message. By establishing a rhythm in your design, you’re giving viewers a chance to relax — because they’re familiar with the consistency the design, the content is easier to take in and understand. When a design rhythm is used effectively, viewers are primed for engagement and will often feel more comfortable.
In terms of web design, this means users will absorb your message easily, they will be inclined to stay on the page longer, continue to find more of your content (since they’re already used to your rhythm), and be open to appreciating other elements of the design.
What we’ve gone over in previous posts can contribute to creating effective balance and rhythm. Now that you’re comfortable using those individual design principles independently, and you understand how they affect viewers, you can use all that you’ve learned to create balance and rhythm in design.
The left-side contains a full-height photo of a person smoking a cigarette in an autumn forest.
A well-composed design has the power to impact viewers by shaping the message you want to share in a format that’s easily consumed. When it carries a good visual rhythm, viewers will be taken on a journey through the design — not in a single direction, but in a flowing loop where each element strengthens and complements the others.
A Series in Design
Thanks for following us on our trip through the design principles. Hopefully you’ve learned a lot and become more confident in what you already knew. Remember that rules are meant to be broken, and as you become fluent in executing different principles in your own work, your designs will strengthen dramatically.