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Design is important, and manufacturers look to improve the design process as much as they can. In this lesson, we’ll take a look at design, and how the principles of organization relate to it.

A Key to Success

Businesses are driven by competition. Thusly, they compete for the right to sell us something.

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Car manufacturers want to sell us our next vehicle, home builders want to sell us our next house, and cell phone companies want to sell us our next phone. The barrage of advertising we wade through each day attests to this.However, it is not enough to simply put a product in an ad. If you want to sell products, and sell a lot of them, they must appeal to your target market in various respects. But how do you foster sales? How do you ensure success? There are several contributors to be sure, and one of the most significant is a stellar design.

What is Design?

Design is a process of creation.

Specifically, it is the group of drawings, descriptions, and steps used to create something. For example, software developers design applications, civil engineers design roads, and accountants design tax strategies. Every item we see and use has a design. Some are quite simple, like that of a fork or spoon.

And others are extremely complex, like the design of your cell phone. Design takes into account every characteristic that the object presents, for example; size, shape, weight, color, and surface. Great design optimizes each for tactile sensation, visual appeal, and utility.

How Does Organization Relate to Design?

In design, organization is used to indicate the spatial relationships between elements. Or in other words, how the elements of the design arranged with respect to each other. For example, consider your cell phone.

A number of questions could be asked that could give you specific information about these spatial relationships:

  • Where are the buttons on the case located?
  • How big are the buttons?
  • Are they the same size and shape?
  • How big is the device?
  • And how big is the screen with respect to the entire device?

These questions, and others like them, give you a sense of the position and proportion of elements in the design.

What are the Principles of Organization in Design?

The ideas from the previous section can be formalized into six principles. They are as follows:

  • Harmony – this principle deals with how well the elements of the design work together. For your cell phone, this would concern things like where the buttons are located with respect to your fingers, or whether or not the buttons are the same shape.
  • Balance – this principle deals with distribution of the elements in the design.

    For your cell phone, this would concern ideas like having buttons on both sides of the case, or if there is only one button, could it be located in the center?

  • Hierarchy – this principle deals with the relative importance of elements in the design, and their locations because of it. For your cell phone, this means that the screen is front and center because it is important, and the buttons are located towards the edges because they are less important.
  • Proportion – this principle deals with the sizes of the elements in the design.

    More important elements tend to be bigger. For your cell phone, the screen is one of the most important elements, thusly, it is the largest element.

  • Emphasis – this principle deals with whether one or more elements stand out from the others. Again using your cell phone, this means that the most important button should be larger than the other buttons, or that the most important applications have bigger icons than the others.
  • Contrast – this principle deals with the differences among elements in relation to the design.

    Using your cell phone, this could concern ideas like making buttons stick up slightly beyond the casing so that you can feel the difference.

Also, take note that there is some overlap between these principles. This is to be expected because we are talking about related aspects of an element or of multiple elements.

Lesson Summary

To recap, Design is a group of drawings, descriptions, and steps used to create something. In design, organization is used to indicate how the elements should be arranged with respect to one another.

There are six principles used to formalize the idea of organization in design. They are as follows; harmony, balance, hierarchy, proportion, emphasis, and contrast.

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