Design Anatomy: A Crash Course on Design Principles and Types of Design

For me, designing was and is always like thinking about how to make things look better. Whether it’s about attire, home furnishing, decoration, and my favorite, writing. We are surrounded by various kinds of design. Look around yourself, and you will know.

Even though the design is a part of our everyday life, I can’t define its meaning.

Can you?

Thanks to Wikipedia from where I copied the design definition and simplified it in my own words: “Design is the creation of a plan to construct something.”

Something means anything you want to create. Your personal room design, your office design, and most importantly, your marketing design.

Yes, you heard it right.

Design has a major presence in your organization world via branding to marketing. Each of your marketing steps requires design. Whether you are making a marketing plan or deciding your logo. Design is everywhere. In spite of knowing this, only a few organizations are successful at using the power of the design at each stage. Others think of design as limited to the job of a graphic designer.

Today, we are going to crack the code of design so that you can increase your marketing effect and catch instant attention of users through design.

First of all, we will discuss the principles of design to learn basics and avoid mistakes.

7 Principles of Design

Emphasis

One mistake every marketer makes is to assign the design task to the graphic designer without telling them what is it they want to be most noticeable within the design. Result: design gets rejected 10 times before it turns out just perfect – waste of time.

Instead of jumping on design task immediately, take a moment and ask yourself, what is it that you want your audience to notice first as soon as they land on your design? Is it your brand name? A new product launch? Avenue? Cost of the product? Or anything which is most important than other factors. Something you can’t afford to go unnoticed.

Note that down and instruct your designer to make it appear bigger than other elements while designing.

Emphasis

Balance

Can you put all the furniture in your home at one place?

Not at all.

Even a fool knows that will look like a storeroom, not a dining room.

Similarly, you can’t dump all elements of design at one place. Balance is as necessary as a breadth to a human body. Otherwise, your design fail to deliver the right message to your targeted audience.

Balance

Example of Imbalanced Design

Basically, there are two types of balance: Symmetrical and Asymmetrical balance.

  • Symmetrical Balance aligns equally weighted elements around the center line of design.
  • Asymmetrical Balance aligns unequal elements around the center line of design.

Imagine a line at the center of your design. Put equal looking elements around that center line – this is called symmetrical balance. Now replace those equal elements with elements of different sizes and put them around the center – this is called asymmetrical balance. Asymmetrical balance looks as good as symmetrical one if a designer knows where to put what.

Symmetrical and Asymmetrical balance

Contrast

It reminds me of cloth stores where selling person always tells me the contrast match of attires. And as a user, I am noticing their effect.

Remember?

Contrast make elements pop out of the design and stick to your memory. To achieve a contrast effect, create a design with element colors varying from background image color. At the same time, make sure background image is in harmony with elements colors offering an easily readable experience to users.

Contrast

Proportion

Proportion is the size and weight of elements used in the design. For e.g. creating a box of big size with catchy color to make it noticeable while keeping a circle of small size with light color – depending on your design requirements. It’s all about using the right proportion of each element.

Proportion

Movement

Movement is placing the elements in such a way that users’ eye travel from one element to another in a sequence – the way you decide them to go. Let’s say for e.g. you have a new product launch and you are selling it at a discount for a limited period of time. Your product image must be of bigger size; a bit smaller should be price with discount, again a bit smaller than price should be a countdown of limited availability, and so on.

Movement

White Space

Where each principle is about what to add in your design, White Space is about what not to add in your design and where to leave the space empty.

You must have noticed overflowing design with tons of elements. Such designs fail to deliver the brand’s message as users often find them confusing. That’s why White Space holds a strong place in design principles.

White Space

Unity

Here comes your creative part. Unity is how you create the design as a whole while deciding where to put which object. Unity refers to the relationship between objects and the whole design.

Unity has its own set of six principles:

  • Alignment: to organize elements around the center
  • Continuation: to extend the line or pattern in design
  • Perspective: maintaining distance between elements
  • Proximity: setting objects close together
  • Repetition: copying objects multiple times
  • Rhythm: recurring objects with a slight change

Unity

Now that you are well aware of what to keep in mind while creating a design, it’s time to acquire knowledge on types of design for marketing purpose.

Types of Marketing Design

Graphic Design

Graphic design is used either to solve a problem or to communicate ideas with users through visual composition like image, color, typography, etc. In the marketing world, brands communicate with users via social media images, infographics, postcards, etc.

Graphic Design

Brand’s Visual Identity Design

A brand represents the relationship between an organization and its audience. Brand’s visual identity is how it communicates its own personality, tone, memories, emotions, and experiences with the users. Let’s say Facebook’s logo has an emotional appeal among its users. Isn’t it?

Logo, typography, color palettes, style guide, etc., all are different kinds of brand’s visual identity.

Brand’s visual identity spreads awareness of your organization.

Brand’s Visual Identity

UI and UX Design

Imagine the human body. Its bones are UX Design (User Experience) – internal structure of a design. How the body looks from the outside is UI design (User Interface) – presentation of design.

UI is how users interact with design – what they see. UX is how users experience design – what they feel. Combine both, UI and UX, and you will get a fully-fledged design to fill your marketing purpose. Web page design, theme design, app design, etc., are some popular design-ways brands use to interact with users.

UI and UX Design

Motion Graphic Design

Simply putting the design in motion is called motion graphic design. Animation, video, ads on television, film, etc., you are well aware of them. With the ever-growing age of visuals and, easily consumable, visual content, demand for motion graphic design is increasing day by day.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a million.

Motion Graphic Design

Moving design is more successful in catching attention than an immovable image. Brand’s rely on motion graphics to grab the instant attention of users.

Environmental Design

Environmental design visually connects users with the environment of the design. Have you ever came across a memorable design, awe-inspiring visuals, mouth-dropping image, motivational quotes with design, etc.

You do remember the long lasting impression they leave, and how you believe them in an instant. It is the environment that can make or break the overall user experience. If you take care of the environmental design, you can leave an unforgettable memory among your users.

Environmental Design

Marketing Design Tips

Just clarifying design basics is not gonna help. You know well what to do but you are still unaware of how to do it.

With the help of above-mentioned little design crash course, you will successfully create a design but you won’t be able to reflect your brand and its message to connect with users. For that, you need to mix your design with smart marketing tips.

Here are marketing design tips to achieve a connection stage between users and your design.

1. Find Your Purpose

I always find the purpose of my writing. It keeps me on the track and helps me write better. As I explore more in life, I realized the purpose is the core of everything we do. If you want your design to reflect your brand, find the purpose for which you are building the design in the first place. Note down the list of reasons of why you want to create this design.

2. Gather Your Design Elements

Elements are the assets of design. An image, your brand’s logo, text you want to highlight, fonts you choose, etc., are different types of elements of design. Once you decide the purpose, your next step is to make another list of elements you would need to fulfill your purpose.

3. Organize Your Elements

It’s time to decide where to put what. With elements on hand, the next step is to place them on your design in such a manner that users’ eye travels from one element to another as per your wish. For e.g., if you want to show your new product launch, make sure its image is bigger in size with color highlighted as compared to other elements. Next, you want users to travel on discount price which should be kept near the product image, a bit smaller and a noticeable color, and so on.

4. Spice-Up Your Design

When everything is set-up as per the above 3 tips, your design is ready for a little spice-up. Add colors, images, text, etc., to make your design come alive. Whether to overdo it or not, depends on your choice. I have seen many successful designs, no matter they are simple or not. Your design must look full of life, successfully delivering your brand’s message.

Branding and Logo Design Tips

Each of your design must reflect your brand in some or other way. For e.g. Facebook reveals its blue color with each of its design. He even wears a similar colored t-shirt which results in users remembering Facebook whenever they see a blue color. You have to follow a similar path. Wearing the brand’s color is optional though.

1. Design Your Brand’s Personality

How do you want your brand look alike?

Do you want a person to represent your brand?

Any particular thing like Apple?

Any font like Facebook?

Any icon like Whatsapp?

Or something out of the blue like Hubspot?

Jot down whatever comes to your mind. Your dreams for your brand would be of big help. Ask suggestions from your employees on how they would like to see their brand and in which color. Gather everything you get your hands on. Pick up a few that touches your heart and relates highly to your brand. Experiment with various combinations and pick a unique logo. Keep the other selection aside for further branding.

2. Go Weird

It’s OK to go weird. Nothing is wrong with that. In fact, going weird with your designs will help you invent some out-of-the-world designs you have ever imagined. Yet alluring at the same time. Weird logo give rise to curiosity among users to explore more.

Go Weird

3. Be Simple

At one side I am telling you to go weird, on another side I am pressing on simplicity?

Let me explain this.

As weird as you go with the design, make sure you don’t complicate it.

Users’ mind works like a camera when they see an image. They take a quick snap only when its simple to understand. So weirdness mixed with simplicity will give your design an easily snappable look, and an unforgettable capture to users.

4. Be Consistent

Of course, be consistent means to create design regularly without failure. But here, it also means that all of your design must reflect your brand, its logo, its colors, fonts, etc. With each design, your brand must pop up to remind users that the content is yours, and you are taking care of users’ needs. Creating brand-empowered design consistently leaves a long-lasting impression of your brand among users. Slowly, they become habitual of recognizing your brand at one glance. Awareness builds from there onwards.

UI and UX Design

You can apply the below-given tips for both UI and UX Design.

1. See through Users’ Eye

What users would like to see first when they land on your design?

How would they like to interact with your design?

How would they like to use your web design or app?

Does your design solve users’ problem or promise them to solve it?

What are the users’ challenges and how your design will face them?

Answer them all while designing your website or app or image. See your design through users’ eye. How would you like to have your design as a user when you land on it the first time. Answering them all will give you a clear direction on what to design.

2. Prevent Mistakes

Even a perfect design crash sometimes. Nor that it is your fault. Sometimes the internet fails to load design on time making users lose patience and bounce back.

“Prevention is better than Cure”

If design mistakes are controllable, you can rectify them. But if it is uncontrollable, you can at least prevent them by adopting mechanisms like putting a confirmation box with a message telling “Not to leave the site till it loads as the site has something useful for users”.

Keep a track on the website to find out glitches faced by users. Rectify the one you can and adapt mechanisms for others.

3. Don’t Forget the Basic Principles

Creative people are all about building something unique and out-of-the-blue. No offense for that. But not following basic principles often confuses users when design goes against their habits. For e.g. users are habitual to see the navigation bar at the top and contact bar at the bottom or the right corner. If you disturb these principles, you are interrupting users’ habit which they won’t like unless they have a strong reason to navigate more. Apart from that, go as creative as you like.

4. Be Mobile-Friendly

Web designers often rely on a responsive site to take care of mobile-friendly demands of users. Responsive may compensate well for a mobile-friendly site, still, you can’t deny the fact that its features are by default. Nothing wrong with responsive design but you have to check on the spacing between buttons, font & text size, and other navigation features. They may sound small changes but they make a big difference when it comes to mobile user’ experience.

Web (Front-End) Design

1. Leverage the Power of Fold

Fold is the line between above-fold and below-fold. Imagine a newspaper and its headlines where your eyes see first – that’s above the fold. Now if it interests you, your eyes travel down to know more – that’s below the fold. The first thing that visitors see when they land on site is above fold design. This is where you have to put your best players to convince users. Below fold design is visible only when users scroll down. This is where you can approach them to take action.

Leverage the Power of Fold<

No wonder designers pay more attention to introduction than other parts of the design. After all, the first impression is your last impression.

2. Declutter with White Space

A page full of various designs and colors sounds tempting. But a page with fewer designs is more readable, understandable, and worthy of navigation. With the help of white space, you can declutter your design making it simple for seamless user experience. White space prevents users from getting confused which lead them to take action.

3. Use a Different Color for Call-to-Action

If you want to catch the instant attention of users towards call-to-action, use the color varying from all colors in your design. Make your call-to-action look bold and catchy to approach users for taking action.

4. Say “No” to Generic Images

Long gone are the days when users believe your site on the basis of an image with the smiling group.

Now users are smart to catch lies. I often see Indian websites with images of groups belonging to foreign countries. I catch the lie every now and then. On the contrary, websites with images of their organization and employees look more legitimate. And nothing can beat the power of user-generated content. So avoid using generic images and start posting images and videos of your own people and customers.

Time to Implement the Knowledge

They say knowledge is power. I believe knowledge is nothing if you don’t implement it. As good as the design tips sound, they are nothing without putting them into practice. Start now. Take notes of whatever you learned from this article. And implement each in your upcoming designs. Remember, practice makes you perfect. All the best.

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