The Building Blocks of Visual Design (part 5)



The principle of dominance plays a major role to create the focus on a single element. Repeated elements without dominance can create confusion and monotony. We can use shape, color, scale, contrast, and/or positioning to achieve this. For example, each website usually has a main “hero” image, which uses dominance to draw users to it naturally.

Being a visual designer, we should make sure to use dominance and still maintain the unity and balance of websites. If not, your design may produce a disorienting experience for users.

Examples to highlight elements and principles of design

With the elements and principles of visual design in mind, now let’s analyze some websites to see how they combine together, and why they work.

Google’s homepage

Google’s homepage seems to be the most visited websites in the world. It is so well designed with the raw simplicity, but there are other factors which make this page work superbly:

  • Dominance: The large logo of Google and search box creates its dominance, making it the core and mostly sole focus of the entire page.
  • Contrast (and color): Google’s logo only uses bright colors, and mixes them well together, forming a visually pleasing logo. Its logo also has sufficient contrast against the white background, that makes it stand out on the page.
  • Shape: Google’s search box uses a rectangular shape in order to delineate the search field and make it very usable.
  • Negative space: The homepage is made out of negative space, making the search box (the main function of Google) the center of attention. The negative space also works well for the page when acting as a blank sheet of paper for users to type in their search terms.
  • Balance: The webpage is almost vertically symmetrical, making a sense of balance which is very pleasing and calm to look at.