Week 2 Discussion – The Elements and Principles of Design

Week 2 Discussion – The Elements and Principles of Design

Learning Objectives Covered

  • LO 01.04 – Discuss the relationship that the basic design principles and elements have with the foundations of graphic design

Career Relevancy

In this discussion, we will discuss the design principles and elements. This is relevant to your career as a professional graphic designer because all pieces you will create for clients will be composed of design elements and be arranged according to design principles. Indeed, the key to being a successful professional graphic designer is understanding first how to choose appropriate visual elements to communicate a unique message and next placing those elements within an appropriate layout and structure so the communication is clear.



Graphic design is fundamentally about visual communication. Though to non-designers it may seem like design is magical in how a piece comes together, designers know that when you use the principles of design to guide how you are using the elements of design, creating a successful design piece is easy. Professional graphic designers will know how to do this intuitively. As a student, now is your chance to practice working with these things to ensure you too are successful.

Elements of Design
The elements of design refer to the visual elements within a design. They are the actual things you can see and are the building blocks of any design piece.

The following are considered to be elements of design:

  • Point
  • Line
  • Shape
  • Color
  • Texture
  • Type

You can find visual examples of each in this week’s Course Media reading materials.

Principles of Design

The principles of design refer to the ways the elements of design are actually used within a composition. They are the formula behind how you might choose to use the elements. The principles of design all tend to support one another in a collaborative relationship. Though any given piece may be more dominant in one particular principle or another, a successful piece of design tends to have all principles present to some degree.

The following are considered to be the principles of design:

  • Contrast
  • Repetition
  • Alignment
  • Proximity

As with the elements of design, you can find visual examples of each in this week’s Course Media reading materials. When understanding how the design elements and design principles relate, it is helpful to think in terms of cooking. The elements of design are the ingredients while the principles of design are the recipe itself. When you use the correct ingredients in the correct manner you are sure to have a tasty dish. The same is true with the elements of design and the principles of design.


Imagine that you have recently redesigned the menu for your local coffee shop. The original menu was created by the owners themselves. The coffee shop owners wanted to keep everything in neutral shades of brown and decided to make all words the same size and use a different font for every drink because they thought this would make the menu feel friendly and casual. Instead, customers began complaining that the menu felt confusing and hard to read.

On your redesign, you used a simple contrasting color scheme, used differing weights of the same font, set up a clear grid layout, and grouped beverages together so that the menu is now easy to scan. Customers have already commented on the positive change.

  • In describing to the coffee shop owners what you did to redesign the menu, how would you explain design element and design principle usage?
  • How do the elements and principles relate?
  • What principles might have been lacking in the original menu and why might the design elements in the new menu now support the principles?

For your citation, you might use articles that show examples of how the elements and principles of design work. You can also find articles from experts that suggest what happens and what goes wrong when you are not conscious of the elements and principles of design.

Your initial and reply posts should work to develop a group understanding of this topic. Challenge each other. Build on each other. Always be respectful but discuss this and figure it out together.

Reply Requirements

Per the Due Dates and Participation Requirements for this course, you must submit 1 main post of 150+ words, 1 citation, and reference, as well as 2 follow-up posts of 50+ words. Responses can be addressed to both your initial thread and other threads but must be your own words (no copy and paste), each reply unique (no repeating something you already said), and substantial in nature. Remember that part of the discussion grade is submitting on time (20%) and using proper grammar, spelling, etc. (20% per post).

Remember that part of the discussion grade is submitting on time and using proper grammar, spelling, etc. You’re training to be a professional—write like it.

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