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Principles of Design: Emphasis & Scale

By Corrie Oberdin   •   12 September, 2014



Principles of Design: Emphasis & Scale

In Design, Web Design by Corrie Oberdin     Comment Bubble  Leave a Comment      Like

We are midway through our “Principles of Design” series, where we walk you through how the Principles of Design apply to how we design websites. Up today is Emphasis & Scale.


Principles of Design: Emphasis

When you’re speaking, and you want to emphasize something, you may say it more loudly (or softly, or more seriously) than the rest of your words to make a point. When writing, you may bold or underline a word to emphasize it.  In design, giving special attention to one part of your content can help draw attention to it or let your viewers know it is important. Emphasis can be achieved by using one of the design elements or other principles.





One way you can emphasize is with color – by using a color that is not typically used on a page, you can draw attention to it and point out that the highlighted element is important. With the Metropolitan Utilities District website we used color to call out key information.  As you’ll see, we typically used cool colors (blue, grey, green) in the design, but call out specific information – like the emergency contact & alerts by making them red. Red stands out to the viewer, because it is the only warm color used.


MUD Omaha




Principles of Design: Scale

Scale is the relationships between objects with respect to size (or number) – and can include the relationship between parts of the whole.  A large element next to a smaller element makes the larger element seem more important (and draws attention to it).




Scale can help web designers identify more important elements of a page.  For example, on the Godfather‘s website, the introductions to different portions of the page are in a larger font than the text. As you can see below, the headline “How we got into the biz” is proportionally larger and, therefore, more important. It draws attention to the headline, and makes it the most important item on the page.



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