Gestalt Theory is the idea that when we look at something, the whole exceeds the sum of its individual parts. This is the challenge for designers: how to blend colour, photography, text and logos in a way that looks good, conveys meaning and triggers a response. Luckily, there are a few design principles that can guide us.
Balance refers to the arrangement of design elements according to their visual weight. A composition can either be symmetrically or asymmetrically balanced.
Squared Eye is asymmetrically balanced whereas Dell is symmetrically balanced.
Rhythm is the repetition or recurrence of elements, often with defined intervals between them. Rhythm can create a sense of movement, organisation (or randomness), pattern and texture.
Adidas uses repetition to create a random (yet organised) pattern, and Alpine Meadows has used rhythm to create a consistent, organic texture throughout the site.
Proportion refers to the relationship of size and scale between various elements in a design. Differing proportions can establish visual weight and depth, and relate to different types of balance.
The use of proportion and scale has created different forms of balance and emphasis for Goldman Sachs and Fray.
Emphasis establishes visual weight or dominance to certain elements within a design, guiding the eye to various focal points. Emphasis hierarchy may give direction and organisation by creating dominant, sub-dominant and subordinate objects within a composition.
You know where you’re supposed to look as soon as you reach Apple which allows them to promote their latest product. Newspaper sites like The Times use emphasis to create a typographic heirarchy.
Harmony is achieved through the balance of variety and unity and generally make designs more visually appealing. Colour, texture, shapes and rhythm all help to create visual harmony.
Ice Cream Man and Obama use different colour palettes, textures, typography and rhythm to create harmony resulting in two very different visual responses.
Space allows the design to breathe. A lot or a little can convey different feelings and give more emphasis to certain elements.
The cluttered design gives you the sense that you’re in your mother’s kitchen at Farmhouse Fare and all that white space is calming at The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa.