4 critical elements of good design

There are so many elements that go into something to give it a nice design. If you think about it in terms of these 5 aspects, chances are the rest of a piece will naturally come together.

1. White space: Also known as negative space, it is important to understand that this can refer to any color of blank space in a document–it doesn’t necessarily have to be white. White space is a ghostly element because it is used best when it is not noticed. It should be utilized to keep the audience from being overwhelmed by the imagery and typography of a piece through its ability to separate elements and create rhythm.

2. Color: Color is one of the trickiest aspects to master. A consistent palette of colors throughout a piece is necessary for cohesiveness, and often times, a good rule of thumb is the fewer the better. Try using 2 shades of the same color and 1 highlight color to use more sparingly for added depth and hierarchy.

  • Kuler by Adobe is an excellent resource that designers can use to choose color schemes for their projects based on those created by other users and a color tool that allows users to create their own.

3. Typography: Typography is by far my favorite aspect of good design. In my experience I’ve found that people tend to place too much emphasis on complicated word structures and do not properly harness the power of different fonts to convey certain moods and ideas. The use of different typography on the same words can begin to convey completely different ideas. See my example below:

Notice how the two sentences portray two very different moods through choice of typeface, although they are the same sentences.

4. Proportion: It is necessary to maintain good proportions between elements on a page or project. Design that takes this into consideration is going to have a better hierarchy and is going to more clearly communicate to the viewer which information is the most important within the design.

There are many aspects of design that consequently fit into these four, yet as I’ve already mentioned, the other aspects should naturally begin to show themselves as white space, proportion, typography, and color fall into place.