Product Design 101: Visual Design Principles

Visual design is about bringing consistency to the aesthetics of a product. The principles of visual design guide the development of the way a website or app looks, for example. Any product can be analyzed and broken down into fundamental elements of visual design. As you take your idea from a concept in your mind into a real thing, you must think critically about how your visual design aligns with the value proposition of your product, its story, and purpose. 

Abstract Painting

Elements of visual design – the building blocks of a product’s aesthetics – include the following:


A line is the simplest form of visual design, and it can convey an emotion.


A shape is a self-contained entity made up of lines, textures and colors.

Negative/White Space

This is the empty space around a (positive) shape. When a positive shape is being designed, negative space is being designed at the same time.


Volume refers to three-dimensional object: length, width and depth.


Value is light and dark. For example, a design with high contrast conveys more of a sense of clarity.


Color is an element of light.


Texture is the surface quality of a design.

White Paper With Orange Flower Print Lot

Now that you know the building blocks, let’s look at best practices:


It is best to have all of the elements be in harmony with one another.


It is easier for the user if you show the difference between what is important first.


This involves distributing the visual elements evenly to give a sense of calm and balance.


Contrast is used to make an element stand out.

When you are working with visual design professionals (if you are not one yourself), keeping these principles in mind will help you ensure that your company’s visual design is clear, clean and compelling. Often, the most effective work comes back to doing the basics well.

Here is a useful guide created by Paper Leaf: Principles of Design Quick Reference Poster

Image result for principles of visual design using infographics