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5 Design Principles to Make Your Projects Stand Out

By Sharon McElwee | Inspiration

Though we may not all be professional designers, we can certainly rely on using design principles to help give our projects a more refined, polished look. After spending over a decade in graphic design for print, I’ve discovered the best ideas anyone can incorporate into their graphics, regardless of skill level.  


What’s wrong with this image?


Bad use of repetition.

The human mind likes things that repeat. That’s why this picture seems a little disconcerting.  There are two main uses of color in the above image, but because those colors don't repeat to compliment each other, the mind sees this collage as disorganized. 

Let’s make a couple of changes in the Collage Maker


Now how do you feel? Alive? Invigorated? Inspired?

By alternating the pink-toned images with the white-toned images, the result is far more soothing. 


Part of the reason why repetition works so well is because it creates a sense of balance. In the design world, there are four types of balance:

Symmetrical: Most of us know this from math class. With symmetrical balance, every part of your project holds interest.

Symmetry is important in cropping. When you use BeFunky’s Crop tool in the Photo Editor, choose Golden Ratio from the Aspect Ratio list. This uses a method called the Rule of Thirds. The shaded area is what will be cropped.


Asymmetrical: Obviously, the opposite of the explanation above. The example photo illustrates asymmetry in action: rather than dwell on the background, our attention is drawn to the bike.

Mosaic: In other words, orderly chaos. This type of balance finds order in disorder. Even though elements seem randomly scattered, as one unit, they make sense.


Radial: When elements radiate from a common center. The sun and spokes on a wheel are good examples of this in action.



Contrast makes important elements stand out (and you can edit it easily in the Photo Editor by clicking on 'Exposure').

If the graphic below contained brown text in the header, would you be able to read it? And even if you could, would it catch your eye better than the text in the rest of the image?


The bold text on top contrasts the most with the brown header, making it stand out more than any other text. Your eye immediately goes there first.


BeFunky Collage

All three of the images on the right of this collage are the exact same distance from the image on the left, and the same distance from each other. In addition, the top edge of the first square on the right aligns with the top edge of the rectangle on the left. The bottom edge of the last square on the right aligns with the bottom edge of that same rectangle.

Inside the image, all of the dots and hearts are aligned in a precise way to create the patterns in each section.  


Invitations and posters are the easiest place to see the importance of proximity. The way the information is grouped and its position on the page show which items are the most important.

We automatically scan invites for groupings, and read those pieces of information together.

wedding card

In a wedding invite, we look for two names together to tell us the who. We look for a month, day and year to tell us the when. And so on.  You get the drift.

Though you may not realize it, you’ve probably been using these principles to judge the quality of your graphics all along. Now that you have a better idea of how to create better graphics it's time to put these ideas to work right away!

What principles are most important to you?  What’s your favorite from this post?

Graphic Design, Simplified.

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