Principles of Website Design 

Web Design AL
Nov 29, 2017

7 Principles of Website Design

Simply put, these essential principles explain how to use the elements of a composition (shape, color, value, form, texture, and space) to create specific effects and convey an intention. Following them does not mean that one masterpiece is concisely the same as another.

These eternal concepts were also adopted by designers, who started applying them to every division of their flourishing field, from architecture to graphic design, and of course, website creation. Regarding web pages, you should pay a great deal of attention to their visual presentation and composition. Why? Because on top of pleasing your visitors’ eyes, a great composition has a direct impact on your website’s performance (navigation, conversion, retention, etc.). JLB leads with design and this creates balance, movement, emphasis, and more: we’ll define what the principles of design are, and how to apply them to websites.

01. Balance of elements

In web design terms, balance is making sure that no single element overpowers another, thereby causing the other items to dwindle insignificantly into the background and serve no purpose. There are three types of balance to choose from:

  • Symmetrical balance: Picture a line of symmetry. This type of balance occurs when one side is a mirror image of the other, like a butterfly.
  • Asymmetrical balance: Also using a line as your focus point, this occurs when features are not exactly the same on both sides but have the same visual ‘weight.’ Imagine a scale with a heavy boulder on one side, you will need many small stones on the other to balance out the weight.
  • Radial balance: Everything is focused around a central point, rather than a line. Here you can imagine a giant funnel where any object thrown in will naturally gravitate towards the center. Objects are equally distant from that point. This type of balance evokes life and dynamism.


02. Contrast is powerful

Aside from colors, contrast can be reached with the use of round vs. sharp shapes, negative vs. positive space, smooth vs. rough textures – and essentially any elements that are inherently opposite of each other. This juxtaposition creates excitement and demands a viewer’s attention. Contrast is a powerful expression in the art and design world, which will do wonders for your own masterpiece.

03. Emphasis of art and design

This is emphasis: when an element naturally becomes dominant in a composition. There are many ways to implement this in art and design. It’s often achieved through the previously mentioned principle, contrast, but not exclusively. Every design should incorporate a primary element like this, known as a “focal point,” this will serve as the gateway to your composition for viewers.

04. Movement and interaction

Movement is attention-grabbing, even in the most subtle ways. In still art, it’s the process of using different elements that create a sense of movement (like diagonal and curved lines and the illusion of space) and cause the viewer’s eyes to wander around the composition. In digital web design, the process is even easier, as technology enables you to incorporate animated effects, straight into your pages.


05. Repetition of elements

Repeating the same element over and over again creates a pattern that is highly satisfactory to the eye. On top of this, repetition helps to create consistency, a crucial factor when it comes to enforcing the unity of your composition – or your identity as a brand.

06. Hierarchy of composition

Just like in a traditional company, hierarchy plays a major role in art and design compositions. Great composition splits elements into three levels of hierarchy: the most important, the middle stuff, and the least important. The human brain can’t grant the same level of importance to every element in a story, spectacle or composition. Rather, it tends to place more importance on the first elements that it perceives – and this is where great artists want to center their viewers’ attention. Choosing the placement of each element based on its level of importance is the key to mastering this principle, and beautiful web design composition.

07. Harmony

This principle is about finding the right balance with the right elements. To achieve this harmonious feeling, the designer needs to make sure that every item has a specific place and role in the composition. Nothing should be out of place, useless, or random. Unity is the culminating result of how different elements and principles work together in agreement – which makes it perfectly deserving of its position as the final, golden tip.