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23 Examples Of Design Principles

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A design principle is a guideline that is adopted by an organization, project or designer that acts as a rule to simplify design decisions. They are intended to reflect the goals of a design and get designers moving in the same direction to create consistent work products. The following are common examples of design principles.

Design to the Edges

Be useful to the maximum number of people as opposed to the mythical average person.

Principle Of Least Astonishment

Be predictable. This makes things easier to use.


Designs look as it they are equally weighted on both sides.


Consider the relative size of elements in a design to make them look natural.

Human Scale

Things are designed to human scale.


Repeat elements to give designs structure and a feeling of harmony.


Repeat design elements in a pattern.


Don't go so far with repetition and rhythm that the design is boring. A little variety is interesting.


Use contrast to communicate visual cues and emphasis. Avoid contrast for decoration.


Use movement to communicate visual cues and emphasis. Avoid movement for decoration.


Provide a stable environment where elements aren't moving or changing in a way that is inconvenient, counterintuitive or distracting.


View the balance, harmony and variety of design as a whole. In other words, take a step back and look at the entire design when applying principles.

Fit for Purpose

Designs are suited to their purpose. Think about the goals and constraints of users in real world contexts and how a design helps.

Stay Out of the Way

Don't create unnecessary rules, roadblocks, steps and procedures. Let people do things the way they do things.

First Impressions

Designs are engaging from the start. For example, don't hide something fun, friendly and engaging behind a terrible registration screen.

Flat Structures

Give things structure but not to too many levels.

Information Scent

Provide descriptive titles, keywords and visual cues that allow users to smell information.

Provide Context

Communicate the big picture to the user. For example, if you're describing a hotel don't forget to mention its basic location information such as country and city.

Provide Feedback

Let the user know what is going on. If they click something that could be slow, tell they you're working on it.

Least Effort

Make things easy for users.

Less is More

Keep things as minimal as possible.

Less is a Bore

Make designs decorative, interesting and information packed.

Attractiveness Principle

Design can't be attractive to all people. Trying to please everyone is a mistake.
Overview: Examples Of Design Principles
A guideline that is adopted by an organization, project or designer that acts as a rule to simplify design decisions.
It should be noted that some of rules above contradict each other. Design principles come down to the goals, constraints and style of the organization or designer. There are no universal rules of design.
Related Concepts

First Principles

This is the complete list of articles we have written about first principles.
Arrow Of Time
Art For Art's Sake
Keep It Small
KISS Principle
Ban The Average
Least Astonishment
Big Picture
Business As Usual
Worse Is Better
Complexity Hiding
Do No Harm
Fit For Purpose
Form Follows Function
Form Follows Nature
Genius Loci
Interchangeable Parts
Keep It Simple Stupid
Less Is A Bore
Less Is More
More Is Different
Path Of Least Resistance
Preserving Ambiguity
Think Global, Act Local
More ...
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Design Principles

A list of design principles.

Ban The Average

Why averages are counterproductive for design.

Fit For Purpose

A way to define the ideal level of quality.

Principle Of Least Astonishment

An overview of the Principle Of Least Astonishment.

Preserving Ambiguity

Overview of preserving ambiguity.

Form Follows Function

An overview of form follows function with examples.

Principle Of Least Effort

An overview of a common design and marketing principle.

Proportion vs Scale

An overview of proportion and scale in design.


An overview of common learnability principles.


The definition of elegance with examples.


A comprehensive guide to design.

Design Flaw

The common types of design flaw.

Design Constraints

The common types of design constraint.

Information Scent

The common types of information scent.

Design Unity

The common types of design unity.

Product Experience

The common types of product experience.

Ease Of Use

The definition of ease of use with examples.


The common elements of typography.
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