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The 6 Rules of Good Design

Digifish News
The 6 Rules of Good Design

Good visual design doesn't just happen by chance. We are sharing an excellent video that discusses the science behind how we view and make sense of the world and how this has led to producing a blueprint for good design. The video begins with the basic theory in psychology, called Gestalt, which means ‘unified whole’. It refers to the idea that the human brain is geared to viewing objects as a whole and not as their component parts. The video then goes on to mention the three psychologists (Max Wertheimer, Wolfgang Kohler and Kurt Koffka) who developed this further into the six principles of design that are used today as a guide for all creatives in the digital world. Here is a summary of the six principles:

1. Similarity

The human brain likes to view similar elements as a group. Objects may have similarity of colour, texture or shape. This is why the use of fonts is important on a website or animation as it will give a sense of unified design.


 2. Continuation

The eye is drawn to things that continue on a line and will continue to follow that line until it is broken or changes direction. This principle is often used by artists to draw a viewer into a composition by creating lines for the eye to follow. Pink Floyd’s Album Cover for Dark Side of the Moon has a simple line to follow in it’s imagery.   


3. Closure

Objects that are incomplete are perceived by the human eye as complete as the brain wants to fill in the missing information. Stencils take advantage of this - a collection of shapes can be made to represent letters or images. Also, some of the world’s most iconic logos have been created using this principle - the World Wildlife Fund’s iconic panda is an example of how well this works in terms of design.

4. Proximity

The human brain likes to see a collection of similar elements as a group - the similarities could be anything from colour, texture, shape or size. It is a more cohesive design if these individual items are placed in groups.


5. Figure/Ground

Often used by artists to create visual illusions, this uses the principle that the brain likes to see objects as if they are in a different plane to the background - it separates out the two parts of the image. Escher used this principle to great advantage with his famous woodblocks where often foreground images would disappear into different background images.

6. Symmetry and Order

The final principle relates to the fact that the human eye likes to have order and symmetry when viewing objects. Have you ever looked at a website where a row of buttons or images were misaligned? The brain wants to put them back in order! Creating great design - based on symmetry or perhaps grouping similar things together - will create harmony between the viewer and content.

Whatever you engage with visually - a website, an animation, a movie - if the six principles are not followed, the human brain will feel uncomfortable viewing it. Being aware of the principles results in a less chaotic world and a more comfortable place to be. Check out some Gestalt thinking in the attached video.