Media designers - those who create newspapers, magazines, web pages, advertising, and any other visual media image - operate with a basic set of principles, just as artists, musicians and writers do. Certain visuals are more appealing to you when you view them. Usually, this is not an accident; it is the result of careful planning based on design principles. Here are some design principles that need to be addressed when taking photographs or video or constructing web pages or newspaper layout.
 
 
Most of us prefer that our lives have balance. Most of us do not like living "on the edge." We want order to our lives. The same is true in design. Balance is the first principle of design. Balance has to do with the way you distribute the weight on each side of an image or layout. You give as much "weight" to the left side as to the right side, the top and the bottom. This is called symmetry.
 
There are numerous ways to achieve symmetry. A symmetrical page in a publication would have the left side and the right side of the page balanced. Doing this occasionally is fine, but having everything balanced in a media design all the time is boring. Yes, we like balance in our loves, but we don't like looking at symmetrical things often. That's why movies rarely work when they deal purely with "ordinary," everyday life.
 
Look at the photograph below. It has mirror image symmetry, but it is not particularly compelling.
 
 
Another way to approach media design of an image or a payout is through asymmetry. This means different but equal visual weight on each side. So you would give on side or one portion of the page more weight through visuals, color, lettering, something. Now this means that you really don't have your page in the sense that all areas of the page are equal in what they contain.
 
That's good enough though. You want something to draw the eyes of the viewer - whatever you consider to be the most important element of the page or design.
 
Balance is achieved through optical weights. This means you will decide the importance of elements, and their placement on the page will lead the viewer through the page. You will, in other words, lead their eyes where you want them to go - from the most important element to what you consider the least (This is part of the fourth principle, sequence, discussed below). You know what you think are the most important elements and those that are the least important. Arrange them in such a way.
 
Look at the newspaper front page. Is it symmetrical or asymmetrical? Which part of the page, top, or bottom, has the most weight? Is the page balanced left to right?
 
 
This is something that should work naturally. It is simply arranging spaces in the picture in pleasing relationship. The bigger something is, the more space it should receive. Book pages are proportional, i.e. they have good shape in height versus width. You don't have to have identical size margins on all side in all types of publications. The same would be true of web pages. Something may be heavier on the left than on the right.
 
Another way to think proportionally is to assume that things that are more important are made larger. Therefore, the more important items are larger than the less important items. Look, again, at the Palm Beach Post front page. What is the most important item? Is it the largest? The most important item should be the photo of the confrontation between Buddhist monks and the police since it's the largest item on the page.
 
 
You'll want to keep both of these in mind. Repetition is repeating visual elements to create a pattern. Gestalt psychology tells us that our minds like patterns (and often look for them even when they may not be there). it is pleasing to the eye to find these patterns in the things that you want to photograph and to create them in your media designs.
 
Conversely you'll also want to look for variety, which breaks the pattern of repetition. This helps to keep the viewers's attention. We don't like to look at the same thing over and over. Variety breaks up the monotony and gives us a surprise at times. take a look at this photo and think about how these two are working together.
 
 
 
This is an idea that you'll think about specifically with web or newspaper design. Simply, you do not leave to chance the order in which a reader perceives objects on a page or screen. This concept goes naturally with the idea of balance and proportion. Here are some things to remember:
 

1. Readers in the Western world generally read from left to right, top to bottom

2. But, readers also move from big to little, black to white, color to non-color, from unusual shapes to ordinary shapes. You can move readers with lines or imagined lines that might do all sorts of things such as extend into another element on the page.

3. This means that you as a designer can move readers' eyes in sequence all over the page if you plan carefully.

 
Look at the front page from the Detroit Free Press. Is there any sequence to the page? Obviously, there is none. Even though there is a large photo in the middle of the page, everything else is about the same size, doesn't stand out, has no color. There is no way to move from left to right, top to bottom with this page
 
 
This deals with harmony. Everything should and must look as if it fits together. This applies to photographs in such a way the elements should cohere. Everything in the photograph should strive to be its own little piece of art.
 
Look at this photograph and discuss the principles of design.
 
 
Here are some specific ways to achieve unity in your web or newspaper design:
 

1. Bold approaches usually use Sans Serif type styles. Sans Serif type does not look like the type you're reading. It looks like this: Sans Serif. Arial is the most common Sans Serif type. Type that lacks the little lines on the ends of words is Sans Serif. The Word Sans Serif is the same type size as this type. See how much larger it is. When you make it bold, it stands out much more than Serif types.

 

2. Avoid using too many different types of fonts in any one production. Multiple fonts tend to confuse readers. Limit yourself to about three per page.

 

3. Consistent placement is a way to achieve unity, such as always placing a heading in the same place with the same type font, etc.

 

4. Dramatic shapes are more appealing than squares. Squares are boring. Images that are much wider than they are tall or much taller than they are wide capture readers' attention. Aim for this in the images you place on Web pages and in print publications.

 

5. Unity is also obtained by using fewer rather than more elements on a page. Fewer elements allow you to group things together that are related. Look back at the two newspaper pages. The Detroit Free Press page has too many elements. There is no unity in design. The Palm Beach Post has six elements below the nameplate. One of them is the index in the bottom right corner, and it is there because it has to be there as the paper's index. The person who laid out this page grouped like elements - look at the box at the bottom with the green, shaded box inside it. Unity was obtained by grouping related items. The Post's page is much more appealing and unified because it contains fewer elements. Web pages that are cluttered with images make it tough to figure out where to look. The same is true with magazines, newspapers, and book covers.

 
 
These two should be considered together. With emphasis you want to train yourself to look through the viewfinder and focus on a single visual element. Decide what the focal point of the event is and then position the camera accordingly. With economy you'll want to eliminate everything not necessary to communicate the information. Frame the shot so that all the other things that distract from the focal point are out of the photo.
 
Look at this photo. Think about how the photographer has achieved economy and emphasis. What do you think the photographer wants you to see? What do you see in the photo that distracts from the main subject or emphasis?
 
 
Now look at this photo. What do you think the photographer wants the viewer to see? Does this photo achieve emphasis and economy?
 
Seshu Badrinath/Pipal Productions
 
The same ideas apply to web and newspaper design. One thing stands out. That's usually the most interesting thing on the page. You may call this the center of visual impact.
 

1. Emphasis may be achieved through bigger, blacker, more colorful, more unusually shaped.

2. Only one item or cluster dominates per page, spread or Web page. The image of the Florida State football team is the obvious dominating element in the layout at the left.

 

 
 
Putting Perspectives into Practice
 
1. How can you have unity, economy, and emphasis? Achieve balance yet use sequencing?
 
2. These guidelines are just that - guidelines; if all don't work, then you as a visual communicator should use the principles that best achieve your goals. All of these principles will not always be appropriate, but try for them.
 
3. You may use a consistent pattern in your publication, or you may use variety page after page. Which do you think would be best or which would be best in which situation?
 
4. Being orderly is what most newspapers do and the majority of magazines. Same typefaces, nothing fancy is orderly.
 
5. The lively approach is essentially breaking all of the rules. You must, however, know the rules before you can break them. The same is true for art, music, anything.
 
6. Simple is often better in publication design. A few elements per page are better than clutter. This same is true for photographs. Frame the shot to get rid of unnecessary things.
 
7. You should also visualize what you are going to do before you start. You can do sketches on paper or in your mind. Visualization involves knowing how certain fonts will look; how colors, lines, etc. will interact with each other and the purpose of your media presentation.
 
Possible Design Concepts to Avoid
 
1. Picture cutouts: using star shapes, etc. Bad pictures are bad no matter what
 
2. Tilts: turning pictures off center
 
3. Vertical typography
 
4. Mortises: putting type over parts of pictures
 
5. Overlaps
 
Having said that these are design elements to avoid, you will, no doubt, be able to find numerous examples of each that works. It all goes back to the purpose of your design, its target audience and understanding how the principles of design work.