4 Design Principles Everyone Should Know

4 Design Principles Everyone Should Know

Ahhhh. I have been a bad blog mom. I can’t believe I’ve gone 2 weeks without posting anything!

School has been crazier than usual with term-length classes ending and final project deadlines a few days away. With all of my focus on school, I haven’t had any time to take up a craft and that makes me so sad. Luckily, my classes this term have included some design work. One in particular has taught me a lot about general design principles and developing my own aesthetic. We’ve had assignments making business cards, infographics, and magazine layouts, to name a few.

For my final project in this class, I chose to design a magazine cover, spread, and editor’s page. This project was by far my favorite one and really helped me to synthesize all that I’ve learned. Check them out below!


magazine cover design
Magazine Cover

Design Principles

The title of this post is “4 Principles of Design Everyone Should Know” and that is because I think most people are inherently aware of them. These are things that we all notice in every day life. Though they are simple, having them pointed out to you can help you understand why a design is appealing and can guide your own design efforts.

An acronym that we learned in class spells a lovely four-letter word: C.R.A.P. C.R.A.P. stands for contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity. I used all of these principles in my design to create balance and unity.


The best example of contrast in this layout would have to be the triangles. By having smaller, darker colored triangles on the left page and larger, lighter colored triangles on the right, there is a sense of flow from one side to the other and more visual interest than if I had done all of the triangles in one size and color.

Using contrast like this is a great way to create balance. Darker objects are visually heavier than lighter ones, and by making the dark triangles smaller, there is no competition between the two. Instead, the spread as a whole feels balanced.


Repetition is a pretty simple concept. It’s basically just using the same or similar elements to create a pattern. This design principle is appealing because people naturally look for patterns in their surroundings all the time.

I used repetition in the triangles, which I placed in such a way to create a pattern. Repetition can also be achieved by using similar colors and this helps create a sense of unity. I chose a neutral/nude palette and used it throughout the project. I only used two fonts in the entire project and this was done to establish consistency in the magazine.


I love alignment. Because it is something we see so much, it can often be overlooked. Without proper alignment, the elements in a design can feel disconnected from one another. You can align objects in a lot of different ways, but the most common are aligning them by edge or by their centers.

I spent a good amount of time playing around with the kerning of my words (a fancy word that refers to the space between letters), especially with the titles ‘Fall Trends’ and ‘Editor’s Note’. By spacing out the second word in both of those phrases, I was able to align the words edge to edge. It gave the titles a much cleaner look. Other than that, there is alignment on every page of the magazine design, such as the spacing between the triangles and the center alignment on the magazine cover.


This is probably the design principle that I was most unaware of before my class. Proximity refers to how close related elements are in a design. It makes sense that related objects would be closer to one another. This helps promote organization in a design.

For my project, I used proximity on the cover with the featured article titles and proximity with the triangles. Most notably, on my “Editor’s Note” page, I clustered the colored boxes, my picture, and the words in the center of the page. The social information has its own space, as does the title of the page.


I seriously loved learning these design principles. They feel like lessons that I will actually use in my life pretty regularly (shoutout to calculus). C.R.A.P. can be utilized in all types of design, from graphic to interior. How do you think you will apply them to your life? Let me know in the comments!!

xoxo, AH


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