The Calculated Creative

Layout Design Basics

Using foundational concepts along with grids, white space and typography creates compositions tailored for the medium, content and audience.

Layout refers to the overall visual arrangement and spacing of design elements on a page, screen, poster, or other medium.

An effective layout is essential for communicating information and ideas efficiently.

Some key principles for creating solid layout designs include:


Balance creates a sense of stability, order and equilibrium in a composition. Different types of balance lend a layout different feels:

  • Symmetrical balance - Elements are arranged so they mirror each other equally on both sides of the page/screen. This creates a very formal, classical feel.
  • Asymmetrical balance - Elements have different visual weights and arrangements but are balanced in a way that feels harmonious. This creates a more casual, dynamic composition.
  • Radial balance - Elements radiate out from a central point and are balanced around it. Great for giving a focal point.

Consider balance not just horizontally but vertically too. Use white space very purposefully to balance elements and create breathing room.


Alignment creates clean lines and sections, unifying the layout. Use grids and columns to align elements methodically. Align text blocks, images, UI elements, etc purposefully based on your goals.

  • Left align text for easy readability
  • Center align elements for formal balance
  • Right align text with images for visual harmony

Careful alignment makes even complex pages feel orderly.


Contrast adds important visual interest and highlights key elements. Subtle contrasts of scale, color, shape and texture add depth. Bolder contrasts create drama.

  • Use scale to establish hierarchy - key elements are larger, supporting details are smaller in size.
  • Pair complementary colors to make things stand out. Don't forget white space as an important "color".
  • Varied shapes and textures break up repetitive elements.

Contrast what is important while maintaining overall unity through repetition of style elements.


Repeat colors, textures, shapes, line weights and graphic elements to tie the composition together.

  • Keep font families, sizes and styles consistent for continuity.
  • Use repeating layout grids to reinforce relationships between sections.
  • Note how logos use repetitive elements - this strengthens their memorability.

Repetition establishes connection, brand identity and usability. Subtle is key, as too much repetition feels monotonous.


Group related elements through close proximity. Separate unrelated elements with white space.

  • Packages of information feel cohesive when close together. Divide sections with padding.
  • Align text and corresponding graphics closely.
  • Use proximity to establish parent-child relationships visually.

Proximity provides useful organization and reinforces meaning through relationships.

Visual Hierarchy

Establish a clear visual hierarchy through scale, color, contrast, proximity etc. Most important information should stand out immediately.

  • Larger, bolder central elements attract attention as "entry points".
  • Brighter colors advance, softer colors recede.
  • Line up elements sequentially to guide the viewer's eye.

Visual hierarchy quickly communicates priorities and relationships. It streamlines navigation by establishing the logical flow.

The Takeaway

Layout design involves carefully arranging visual elements to communicate information and ideas effectively.

Using these foundational concepts along with grids, white space and typography creates polished compositions tailored for the medium, content and audience.

With practice in applying these rules creatively, designers can craft intuitive layouts that engage viewers and elegantly communicate the intended message.

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