March 22, 2024

Design Principles Every Junior Designer Should Master

Design principles serve as the foundation upon which all successful designs are built.

For junior designers embarking on their journey into the world of design, understanding these principles is paramount to honing their craft and developing professional skills. 

Whether focusing on user experience (UX), user interface (UI), or graphic design, grasping the fundamental principles not only enhances the aesthetic appeal of their work but also improves usability and functionality.

Definition of Design Principles

Design principles are fundamental guidelines and concepts that govern the creation and execution of effective and aesthetically pleasing designs across various disciplines such as user experience (UX), user interface (UI), graphic design, architecture, and more. 

These principles are rooted in principles of visual perception, psychology, and human behavior, aiming to achieve specific objectives such as clarity, usability, and visual appeal. At their core, design principles serve as the blueprint for designers to follow when conceptualizing, planning, and executing their designs. 

They provide a framework for making informed design decisions, guiding designers in how to arrange elements, use colors, typography, and space, and create meaningful interactions. 

By adhering to these principles, designers can create designs that not only look visually appealing but also effectively communicate the intended message or function to the audience.

Design principles are not rigid rules but rather flexible guidelines that can be adapted and applied in various contexts and projects. 

While some principles may be more relevant in certain design disciplines than others, they collectively contribute to the creation of cohesive, intuitive, and engaging designs.

Key Principles of Design

There are a bunch of design principles that you can read about and need to know their importance, but for now consider only these three principles;


Balance in design refers to the distribution of visual weight within a composition to create a sense of equilibrium. It ensures that elements are harmoniously arranged, preventing any single element from overpowering others. 

Achieving balance can involve symmetrical arrangements, where elements are evenly distributed around a central axis, or asymmetrical arrangements, where visual weight is distributed unevenly but still achieves overall equilibrium. Balance fosters visual stability and enhances the overall aesthetic appeal of a design.


Contrast is the juxtaposition of different elements within a design to create visual interest and emphasis. It involves using variations in color, size, shape, texture, or other visual characteristics to make elements stand out from one another. 

By creating differences between elements, contrast adds depth and dimension to a design, drawing the viewer's attention to specific focal points and creating hierarchy. Whether it's through contrasting colors, light and dark elements, or bold versus subtle textures, contrast adds vibrancy and excitement to a design while enhancing its clarity and impact.


Alignment refers to the arrangement of elements along a common axis or guideline within a design. It ensures that elements are visually connected and organized, creating a sense of order and coherence. Proper alignment helps establish visual relationships between elements, making it easier for viewers to navigate and understand the layout. 

Whether aligning text along a grid, centering elements within a container, or aligning objects to a specific edge or line, alignment enhances readability, clarity, and aesthetics. It creates a sense of structure and professionalism, contributing to the overall visual polish and effectiveness of a design.

And now let’s get just a bit dipper on the difference between UX and UI principles and how you need to take them into consideration when designing.

UX Design Principles

As designers, we understand that User Experience (UX) is not just about how a product looks, but more importantly, how it feels and functions for the end-user. Let's delve into some key principles that shape the foundation of exceptional UX design:

A. User-Centered Design

User-centered design is the cornerstone of creating products that resonate with users on a profound level. Here's why it's so pivotal:

  1. Understanding user needs and behaviors – To craft experiences that truly resonate, we must first immerse ourselves in the world of our users. This involves conducting thorough research to gain insights into their goals, preferences, and pain points. By understanding their needs and behaviors, we can tailor our designs to address their specific requirements, ultimately fostering a deeper connection with our audience.
  1. Prioritizing user experience in design decisions – In every design choice we make, whether it's selecting a color scheme or determining the layout of a page, we must always prioritize the user experience above all else. This means constantly asking ourselves: How will this decision impact the user? Will it enhance usability and delight, or will it introduce friction and confusion? By keeping the user front and center in our design process, we can ensure that our creations are not only visually appealing but also intuitive and user-friendly.

B. Accessibility

Accessibility is not just a buzzword; it's a fundamental aspect of design that ensures inclusivity for all users, regardless of their abilities. Here's why it's imperative:

  1. Ensuring designs are inclusive and usable by everyone – As designers, it's our responsibility to create experiences that are accessible to all individuals, regardless of any physical or cognitive impairments they may have. This means designing with empathy and considering factors such as color contrast, font size, and navigation options to accommodate users with disabilities. By prioritizing accessibility, we can ensure that our designs are welcoming and usable by everyone, regardless of their circumstances.
  1. Importance of considering diverse user abilities and limitations – Accessibility is not a one-size-fits-all solution; it's about recognizing the diverse range of abilities and limitations that users may have and designing accordingly. Whether it's incorporating alternative text for images, providing keyboard navigation options, or optimizing for screen readers, every decision we make should be informed by the goal of making our designs as inclusive as possible. By embracing accessibility, we not only enhance the user experience for individuals with disabilities but also create more robust and resilient designs for all users.

C. Consistency

Consistency is the glue that holds a user experience together, providing familiarity and predictability across interfaces and interactions. Here's why it's crucial:

  1. Maintaining uniformity across interfaces and interactions – Consistency breeds trust and confidence in our users, allowing them to navigate our products with ease and efficiency. Whether it's the placement of navigation elements, the use of common icons, or the tone of voice in messaging, maintaining a cohesive visual and functional language ensures that users feel comfortable and confident as they interact with our designs.
  1. Enhancing predictability and usability for users – By adhering to consistent design patterns and conventions, we can reduce cognitive load and friction for users, making it easier for them to understand and interact with our products. Predictable interfaces empower users to focus on their goals rather than deciphering how to use the interface, ultimately leading to a more seamless and enjoyable user experience.

Incorporating these UX design principles into our practice not only elevates the quality of our designs but also fosters a deeper connection with our audience. By putting users at the forefront, embracing inclusivity, and striving for consistency, we can create experiences that leave a lasting impression and drive meaningful engagement.

UI Design Principles

User Interface (UI) design focuses on creating visually appealing and intuitive interfaces that facilitate seamless interactions between users and digital products. Let's explore some essential UI design principles:

A. Visual Hierarchy

Visual hierarchy is the art of organizing content in a way that guides users' attention and emphasizes key elements. Here's why it's crucial:

  1. Organizing content to guide users' attention – In a world inundated with information, it's essential to prioritize content and guide users' attention toward the most important elements. By strategically arranging content elements based on their importance, we can create a clear path for users to follow and ensure they focus on the most relevant information.
  1. Using size, color, and typography to establish hierarchy – Size, color, and typography are powerful tools that allow us to establish hierarchy within our designs. By varying the size and weight of elements, using color contrast effectively, and leveraging typography to differentiate between headings, body text, and calls to action, we can create visual cues that intuitively communicate the relative importance of each element.

B. Simplicity

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication in UI design, offering clarity and ease of use for users. Here's why it's paramount:

  1. Striving for clarity and simplicity in design – Complexity often breeds confusion, whereas simplicity fosters clarity and comprehension. By stripping away unnecessary elements and focusing on the essentials, we can create designs that are intuitive and easy to navigate. Simplicity not only enhances the user experience but also reduces cognitive load, allowing users to accomplish their goals with minimal effort.
  1. Removing unnecessary elements to reduce cognitive load – Every element in a design should serve a purpose and contribute to the user's journey. By eliminating clutter and unnecessary distractions, we can streamline the user experience and ensure that users can focus on completing their tasks without being overwhelmed. Removing extraneous elements not only enhances usability but also creates a more visually appealing and harmonious design.

C. Feedback and Affordance

Feedback and affordance are essential aspects of UI design that provide users with clear cues and guidance throughout their interactions. Here's why they're vital:

  1. Providing clear cues for user actions – Users should always know what actions are available to them and how to perform them. By providing clear visual cues such as buttons, icons, and hover states, we can communicate to users the interactive elements within our designs and guide them toward desired actions.
  1. Giving feedback for user interactions to enhance usability – Feedback plays a crucial role in validating user actions and providing reassurance. Whether it's through subtle animations, change in color, or interactive transitions, providing immediate feedback informs users that their actions have been acknowledged and helps them understand the outcome of their interactions. Feedback not only enhances usability but also creates a more engaging and responsive user experience.

Taking into account these UI design principles into our practice enables us to create interfaces that are not only visually appealing but also intuitive, efficient, and user-friendly. By prioritizing visual hierarchy, simplicity, and feedback, we can design interfaces that empower users to accomplish their goals with confidence and ease.


Embrace the challenge and opportunity to apply these principles in your real-world design projects. By integrating balance, contrast, and alignment into your designs, you're not just creating visually appealing compositions, you're crafting experiences that captivate and engage your audience. 

Remember, these principles serve as your guiding light, helping you navigate the complexities of design with clarity and purpose. So, roll up your sleeves, dive into your projects with confidence, and let these principles elevate your designs to new heights. 

Your creativity combined with these fundamental principles will undoubtedly lead to impactful and unforgettable designs that leave a lasting impression. Trust in your abilities, stay curious, and never underestimate the power of applying these principles in every design endeavor. 

The world is your canvas – now go and create something extraordinary!

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