Sunday, May 29, 2011

Two Principles of Design: Balance and Space

Armed with your format, ideas and elements, I move on to the computer and begin the layout process. There are many principles of design that will need to be applied, but in this entry I will cover two: Balance and Space.

Symmetrical Layout of Elements
Symmetrical Layout:
Elements mirror each other
Balance is placing elements such as text, images, symbols, forms and shapes either through symmetry or asymmetry. Before deciding on which you would like to use in your layout, you need to go back and review the design project's message. Is it to convey a calm, soothing, formal, or conservative mood or can it be unstructured, free, chaotic, casual, informal, even volatile if that is what will get the message across to the target audience. If it's the former, than typically you will apply a symmetrical layout where all elements on the page, right from left, mirror each other. Elements on each side of the page carry equal weight. I have some examples.

Asymmetrical Layout
Asymmetrical Layout
On the contrary, asymmetrical layout does not have elements mirroring each other. Instead, overall design is off-center and the number of elements on each side may not match in size, number or format... it's unequal. However, this is not to say the layout is unbalanced. Instead, with experimentation and arrangment of elements, you can achieve balance by establishing different weights on the page. An asymmetrical layout is more interesting than a symmetrical layout. It can add an element of surprise and perhaps sustain attention from a viewer because of it's asymmetrical appeal. In fact, the asymmetrical layout widens a designers opportunity to apply balance without regard to symmetry. Again some examples will help to illustrate how balance can be accomplished even without a perfect symmetrical layout.

The next principle is regarding "Space." Here I refer to white space, also called negative space. When presenting information in module "chunks," it's imperative to leave white space around each chunk, so to speak, to set it apart and create this frame or border around the information. It also allows for some breathing room between the edge of the page and other elements. The eye needs a place to rest, and white space will help the viewer distinguish between what section or element needs to be noticed and what does not, such as the background. If every nook and cranny is filled up with some text content, image or graphic, than it become a cluttered layout which may cause confusion and distraction. You want your viewer to gain interest, not distinterest. Below are two links which explain white space further. The second is a slideshow which display great design examples of how white/negative space is implemented in various layouts.

Until the next time...

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