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Design Principles: Part One

by | Nov 29, 2012 | Articles, Design | 0 comments

Design Principles

There are design principles out there that make our work interesting. There are others that are valuable aspects to consider when creating a design. These principles can be used to your advantage, making your designs stronger. You use these design principles to call attention to key information that must be received by your audience. We will discuss two important design principles that you can use to make your work better and more professional. Your designs will have more impact if you use basic design principles to your advantage.


One aspect of design is that our brains group things together that are alike. This association between elements is called the law of similarity. In the example, we group the circles in the middle together to form a diamond. We see the diamond because we process alike objects together, to easily organize them and take in the information. We also process the formation of triangles to form a square. This means that we see a diamond of circles inside a square of triangles.


The law of closure is another great design principle to use. you don’t have to completely draw or outline every object. You can use the edges of different shapes combined with the right spacing and position of elements in negative space to make our brains fill in the areas that aren’t there. This works well with most shapes. In the example, the 4 square shapes have rounded edges, and together they make our mind see the circle in the middle. It automatically completes the shape for us with no outlines needed. I have seen this used in a few designs, and it really makes an impact. Making your viewers work to see an element within another one using negative space is a rewarding process for the viewer. They feel like they are being included if they can see the “hidden” elements created by negative space. This interactivity holds the attention of your audience and your message is much more likely to stay with them.

So when do we use these design principles in our work? Can we work these principles into our work for an interesting effect?  Here is a well known example of the law of closure:

We see IBM, because our eyes draw the outlines for us, so we see each individual letter: I-B-M. This concept can be used infinitely to create other imagery.

WWF Logo Design Principles

The WWF logo is another great example of using design principles to simplify a design. The shapes of the panda’s back and head are created by our eyes using closure, so that we see the arc of both, even though they aren’t even drawn or outlined.

Elettro-Domestici Design Principles

Elettro Domestici is another great example of the use of design principles in a logo. Closure enables us to see the “E” even though there is nothing to the left, top, or bottom of it. The positive shape of the plug and its prongs, as well as its proportion, compete with the negative space to give us enough information to form the E.


Similarity and closure are great design principles to use in your work to make it powerful, yet simple at the same time. Simplicity makes it easier for people to process and makes it easier for them to remember it. Using similarity and closure in a creative or an unexpected way will make your designs have better staying power.

Have you designed a logo or an icon that uses similarity or closure to create great visual impact? If so, post a link to your work or tell us about it in the comments section below.

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