16 “Design Rules” Debunked

by . December 14th, 2016

16 "Design Rules" Debunked

You’ve heard your design instructors, leading designers, and random UCreative commenters repeat these so-called “design rules” over and over again.

Most of us probably agree with them. Whitespace does make everything pop. Grids do make everything more precise. Consistency does matter.

But what if you don’t want any of those things? Sometimes you want design elements to blend. Other times you want them chaotic. Much of the time you want them to surprise.

The reality is, that while many of the so-called design rules are indeed helpful, blindly applying them is no substitute for considering the specific context at hand.

DesignMantic created the SlideShare below listing common “design rules”. See if you agree with the points being made:

Design Rules You Should Break (Sometimes)

  • Remember all the rules.
  • Design for the audience.
  • Follow the brief.
  • Simple design rules.
  • Keep it in a grid.
  • Design with hierarchy.
  • Follow a color theme.
  • Stick to two or three typefaces.
  • Learn typography.
  • Good designs are flat.
  • Whitespace is your friend.
  • Golden ratio.
  • Always think cross platform.
  • Don’t stretch that font.
  • Do paperwork.
  • Be unique.
  • Bring consistency into design.

What you should know

  • It’s probably more useful for more designers to know what the rules are before they try breaking them.
  • These rules may not be necessary, but they can also be a handy way to produce designs that work reliably.
  • Design is creative — but it isn’t just art either. You’re trying to solve problems first. Self-expression comes second, if at all.
  • “Rule” is probably a bit too much. “Guidelines” might be a better word to describe any supposed design rule.

Which design guidelines do you routinely disregard? Why? Comment below!




Arthur Piccio manages YouTheEntrepreneur and has managed content for major players in the online printing industry. He was previously BizSugar's contributor of the week. His work has appeared multiple times on The New York Times' You're the Boss Small Business Blog. He enjoys guitar maintenance and reading up on history and psychology in his spare time.