Why everyone should know the 4 basic rules of design, whether you are a developer, layout designer or copywriter

There are especially valuable techniques and tools in the world that can be applied to almost any profession. And we’re not talking about the notorious soft skills, everything is quite obvious with them. It is much more interesting to talk about “hard” skills, which, due to their versatility, greatly improve professional erudition. This is the foundation on which other skills are built, becoming more complex and adapting to a specific industry.

Today we will look at four basic design rules, which are actually not only about design. They will make your code neater, your layouts more aesthetically pleasing, and your texts more readable and clear. The rules are described in the wonderful “Book for Non-Designers” (by Robin Williams).

The first rule is that in good design, objects that have something in common should be collected in separate groups. Thanks to the proximity, the elements of the groups look like a single visual composition, and not a collection of accidents.

In order for users to feel “balance” when looking at text, code or design, all objects must be built in one line - horizontal or vertical. An object accidentally lying around is acceptable only in some exceptional cases.

The most important design elements should be radically different from the rest - for example, in color or size. And it’s not just about aesthetics, this rule is primarily about managing attention. With the help of contrast, we help to quickly focus on the main thing, because this way the user does not have to get acquainted with every design object.

Finally, the rule is more complicated: in order to apply it, you must first calculate what kind of relatedness is being tracked among elements that seem different at first glance. If you can do this, the design will become more visually interesting: the user will look at the layout, code or text and catch non-obvious patterns.
Let's summarize with something like a reminder:

Combine objects with some common characteristics into semantic groups.

Align all elements along the same line. And it’s better not in the center - as the author of the book says, it looks official and mediocre.

Highlight the most important things - for example, with a contrasting size or color.

Calculate related elements and represent them in some repeating form.
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