The term design has so many different meanings and applications that it is hard to define.
It can also refer to the arts that utilize composition, such as painting, sculpture, and architecture. Additionally, design can be used as an adjective to describe something that has been created with care and intention.
This guide provides an understanding of design and its principles and types with respect to marketing. It is bookmarkable for future reference and allows you to jump to any section of interest.
The design can have many different interpretations depending on its use. The design industry is always changing. In general, design can be anything you want it to be, as long as you don’t forget some of its fundamental rules. These are called the principles of design.
The Principles of Design
The principles of design are ideas that can be applied to any design project in order to create a composition that is effective and impactful. The main principles are balance, contrast, dominance, hierarchy, proportion, and unity.
There are a few other terms that go hand-in-hand with these principles, such as movement rhythm, symmetry, and white space. These design concepts are based on the above tenets and therefore can’t be considered separate principles.
P Principle of design refers to the basic guidelines of design which are used by the designer to create a masterpiece. The main principles of design are: contrast, balance,Repetition, Proportion, and Rhythm. Contrast is the principle of design that deals with the differences in the visual elements. The contrast can be created by using the light and dark colors, big and small shapes, rough and smooth textures, etc. The good contrast between the elements helps in making the design more interesting and attractive. Balance is the principle of design that helps in creating stability in the design. The visual elements can be balanced by using the symmetry and asymmetry. The symmetrical balance is created by placing the elements in the mirror image of each other while the asymmetrical balance is created by placing the elements in the way that they look balanced. Repetition is the principle of design that helps in creating the rhythm in the design. The repetition can be created by repeating the elements such as colors, shapes, textures, etc. The good repetition helps in making the design more interesting and attractive. Proportion is the principle of design that deals with the size of the elements. The size of the elements should
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The way in which objects are arranged in a composition is called balance. The visual weight of the objects also plays a role in balance. There are several ways to achieve balance.
- Symmetry (Formal balance): When objects are arranged evenly around a vertical or horizontal axis. Objects are arranged around a central point (or a radius) is known as radial symmetry.
- Asymmetry (Informal balance): When objects are arranged unevenly around a vertical or horizontal axis. Typically, there’s one dominant side or element in an asymmetrical composition.
The principle of contrast is when elements in a composition differ from each other, while the principle of similarity is when composition elements resemble each other. Contrast can be created using design elements like color, space, form, size, and texture.
White space, or negative space, is the empty parts of a composition. It can help organize the elements in a composition and emphasize the most important ones. It also creates an aura of luxury and minimalism.
There are three main types of dominance in design: light, moderate, and heavy. Light dominance is achieved using small elements and light colors. Moderate dominance is achieved using medium-sized elements and moderate colors. Heavy dominance is achieved using large elements and dark colors.
- Dominant — The object of primary emphasis. It’s given the most visual weight and is typically found in the foreground of a composition.
- Sub-dominant — The object(s) of secondary emphasis are typically found in the middle ground.
- Subordinate — The object(s) of tertiary emphasis are typically found in the background.
It is interesting to note that the visual center is where we tend to focus our attention when looking at a piece of visual design. This point is slightly above and to the right of the actual center of the composition and is often called “museum height”.
The movement of a composition is the path that a viewer’s eye follows when looking at it. A well-designed composition will have a clear movement that tells a story and create a good user experience. The movement is created using elements of design such as lines, shapes, and colors.
Proportion or Scale
The word proportion comes from a Latin word meaning “to compare.” Proportion can be thought of as the visual weight and size of the elements of a composition and how they relate to each other. This principle is also known as scale. The word proportion comes from the Latin word meaning “to compare.”
One object can appear larger than another in a composition to create a focal point or sense of movement. This can help to communicate the importance or dominance of that element.
Some people think that the main goal of design is to make everything look unified, while other designers and design communities disagree with that opinion. Unity means that all the different parts of a design fit together well. If the elements of a design go well together, we say it has unity. If they don’t go well together, we say it has variety.
The following design principles are associated with unity.
- Alignment — When objects are lined up on a certain axis or cadence
- Continuation — When a line or pattern extends
- Perspective — When there’s a distance between elements
- Proximity — When objects are placed close together
- Repetition — When objects are copied multiple times
- Rhythm — When objects recur with a slight change or interruption
Different design principles are applied to different design communities and practices. The seven most common types of design in marketing are outlined below.
Types of Design in Marketing
Let’s look at the different types of design and how they can be used in marketing.
When you think of design in the marketing field, graphic design is probably what comes to mind. This includes things like social media images, email marketing headers, infographics, and postcards.
Graphic designers are in high demand because visual content is an engaging and valuable marketing tool for companies. Graphic designers create assets that communicate the company’s message to their audience.
If you need help creating content for any online channel, you can download our free library of over 195 visual marketing design templates.
Branding and Logo Design
Branding and logo design are graphic design subfields that encompass the creation of visual elements associated with a brand, like logos, typefaces, color schemes, and so on.
Branding and logo designers create visual representations of a company’s mission, values, and goals to help increase public awareness of the brand.
The HubSpot Academy Graphic Design Essentials course will teach you the basics of graphic design and how to apply them to create stunning visuals.
UI and UX Design
This focuses on how a user interacts with a product and their experience with it.
UX designers, on the other hand, focus on the user experience itself. There is a difference between UI and UX design even though some roles include both practices. UI designers are in charge of making a visually appealing, on-brand experience for users through web page design, app design, and theme design on platforms such as WordPress and Shopify. UX designers, however, concentrate on the user experience itself.
User experience (UX) designers focus on the how and why of a user’s engagement with a product, service, or company. TheyAsk whether the product is easy to use and logical, taking into account a user’s needs and goals. To do so, they use customer feedback, data, and their own observations to recommend improvements to the design.
Web (Front-End) Design
Web designers create the visual and functional aspects of websites, such as splash pages, navigational elements, sitemaps, pages, scrolling and clicking features, and content management systems.
Graphics that are designed for a variety of media, particularly video and animation, are known as multimedia or motion graphics. This type of design was historically only used by those in television and film due to the time and cost requirements, but it has become more accessible than ever before because of recent technological advancements and an increase in video content marketing.
Multimedia designers create visuals that communicate and engage an audience. This may include logos, GIFs, videos, and websites.
What is Design Thinking?
Design thinking is a practical and creative problem-solving approach that is based on the methods and processes that designers use. However, it has evolved from a range of different fields, including architecture, engineering, and business. Design thinking can also be applied to any field; it does not have to be design-specific.
Design thinking is a different approach to design than user-centered design. User-centered design focuses on the needs of the user, while design thinking takes a more holistic approach. Design thinking considers the user, but also the context in which they will use the product, and the business goals of the company. Learn more about the differences between these two approaches to design here: Design Thinking vs. User-Centered Design.
Design thinking focuses on humans first and foremost, coming up with solutions to meet their needs. It is solution-based, meaning it addresses problems by finding solutions.
What does this mean? Let’s take a look.
What’s the difference between Solution-Based and Problem-Based Thinking?
Solution-based thinking is all about finding solutions to problems, rather than fixating on the obstacles. This is the opposite of problem-based thinking, which focuses on the limitations.
Lawson wanted to see how differently a group of designers and a group of scientists would approach a problem. So he did an empirical study.
He gave each group a set of colored blocks and tasked them with creating a one-layer structure. The only rule was that the perimeter of the structure had to use either as many red bricks or as many blue bricks as possible.
Lawson published his findings in his book How Designers Think, in which he observed that the scientists focused on identifying the problem (problem-based thinking) whilst the designers prioritized the need to find the right solution:
The scientists tried out different combinations of blocks as quickly as possible to see what would work. They were trying to figure out which combinations of blocks were allowed, so they could find an arrangement that would use the colors in the best way.
The designers, on the other hand:
The students selected blocks to create a colored perimeter. If this combination was not satisfactory, they would try another combination until they found one they liked.
Lawson’s findings suggest that Design Thinking is a process that favors ongoing experimentation until the right solution is found.
The Four Principles of Design Thinking
- The human rule: No matter what the context, all design activity is social, and any social innovation will bring us back to the “human-centric point of view”.
- The ambiguity rule: Ambiguity is inevitable, and it cannot be removed or oversimplified. Experimenting at the limits of your knowledge and ability is crucial in being able to see things differently.
- The redesign rule: All design is redesigned. While technology and social circumstances may change and evolve, basic human needs remain unchanged. We essentially only redesign the means of fulfilling these needs or reaching desired outcomes.
- The tangibility rule: Making ideas tangible in the form of prototypes enables designers to communicate them more effectively.
The Phases of Design Thinking
The Design Thinking process contains five steps which are empathy, define, ideate, prototype, and test. These steps are based on four principles that help you understand a design problem and develop a solution.
The first stage of Design Thinking is about understanding the user, their wants, needs, and objectives. This is done by empathizing with them.
The second phase of the design process is about understanding the user on a psychological and emotional level. The designer observes and engages with the user to understand them better. This phase is important because it allows the designer to set aside their assumptions and gather real insights about the user.
The second stage of Design Thinking is focused on defining the problem. All of the information gathered during the first phase (empathize) will be used to identify issues, establish patterns, and figure out what the main problem is that needs to be solved.
Frame the problem in terms of your user: “Retirees in the Bay area need…”
After you have decided how to word the problem, you can start thinking of potential solutions and ideas.
The third phase of Design Thinking is where creativity happens. It is important to note that ideation should be a judgment-free zone!
Designers will hold ideation sessions to create many new ideas. Different types of ideation techniques that designers might use include brainstorming, mind mapping, bodystorming (roleplay scenarios), and provocation (extreme lateral-thinking technique). Provocation challenges established beliefs and allows designers to explore new options and alternatives.
As you near the end of the ideation phase, you’ll start to narrow down the number of ideas you’re considering and focus on a few that you want to pursue further.
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