The Building Blocks of Visual Design (part 3)

Principles of Design

While the elements such as line, shape, volume, color, negative/white space, value, and texture describe the building blocks of the aesthetics of a product, the principles of design show us how these elements go together to create the best results. These are the principles of design, some of which are closely related and complement together.


Designers use unity to make all elements in a page appear to belong together, in other words, to create the sense of harmony between all the elements. When the elements in a page are visually or conceptually arranged together, they will likely create a sense of unity.

When designing websites, we can achieve a sense of unity by using a grid because organizing the elements in a grid will make them follow an orderly arrangement. However, we need to use some variety in our work to strike the balance between a chaotic and a boring design.

When unity is achieved:

  • a composition will not become confusing or cluttered.
  • a concept can be communicated more effectively.
  • a design creates a sense of organization and quality.


Gestalt means ‘unified whole’. It refers to the way in which humans will see the whole before seeing the individual parts when looking at a group of objects. In other words, we will perceive the overall shape of an object first, then perceive the details like lines, textures, etc of the object later.

Gestalt is very important. For example, we can make the separate sections of a website distinct by increasing the white space between them. If you collect your design elements together in a visual arrangement using the gestalt principle, your design will become more coherent, connected, and complete.


Hierarchy shows the difference in the importance of the elements in a design. The most common and easy ways to create hierarchy is by using color and size, for example, by using larger fonts for headings or by highlighting a primary button. We can see that items which appear at the top of an app or page usually tend to be viewed firstly because of having a higher hierarchy than those which appear below.