What Is Asymmetrical Design? (Definition And Uses)

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 30 September 2022

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The knowledge of design principles is integral to design planning and execution. There are two approaches to placing elements in a page layout, namely symmetrical and asymmetrical design. Understanding asymmetry can make your designs more dynamic and convey different moods, such as amusement, joy or tension, through the arrangement of various elements. In this article, we define asymmetrical design, learn some key principles, understand how to use asymmetry in design and review the importance of asymmetry in design.

What Is An Asymmetrical Design?

The art of visual balance is crucial to effective communication in design, and asymmetrical design is an important part of it. Asymmetric design refers to the lack of symmetry or equality between two halves in a design. This does not denote the absence of balance but inequality on two sides of a picture or layout, which makes sense to the human eye. It can be challenging to design an asymmetrical layout that shows movement and conveys various moods, such as joy, sorrow or excitement. Such designs are common in art, webpage layouts, graphic design and interior decorations.

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Principles Of Asymmetrical Design

Design principles refer to guidelines that help designers create effective visuals. Some of the fundamental principles of design include contrast, movement, white space, balance, alignment, repetition and proportion. Here are some principles of asymmetric design that you can apply to your visual compositions:


In graphic design, balance refers to the distribution of elements evenly within a layout, such as shapes, size of text and images. Asymmetrical balance is when you have inequalities between two sides of an image or layout, but they still appear logical and complete. It is important to note that any image or layout that lacks symmetry or shapes and objects that are haphazardly scattered around the two halves of the page cannot serve as asymmetrical balanced.

An asymmetry in the design shows unequal visual weights on both sides of the design that balance each other. The visual weight of a design is determined by its ability to attract the viewer's attention because of several components, which include the tone, object, shape and colour. Using contrasting elements, the rule of thirds, forced perspective and different colours can help you create an asymmetrical balance in your compositions.

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Movement refers to the path a viewer's eyes follow when viewing an artwork, often leading to focal points. Lines, edges, shapes and colours within a work of art help stimulate such movement. Asymmetry in designs have a tendency to show dynamism where the viewer's eye moves throughout the layout instead of seeing every element at once. This can help draw attention and leave a lasting impression on the viewer.

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The concept of proportion in design refers to the balance between different design components, such as colour, shape and texture. Many architects and designers link proportion with scale, which is an absolute and fixed measurement of the size of one or more objects. The use of scale and proportion principles help designers to convey the composition of a design and create or minimise areas of emphasis.

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White space

In design, white space or negative space refers to the areas that lack design elements. Designers use negative space to create strong symbols, an element of surprise and to make an impression on the viewer. The white space creates a break in the design, which prompts action, highlights a centralised message, makes visual elements more noticeable and directs the flow of a layout. It can have a significant impact on a design's focal point, its appearance, legibility and perception of its presentation.

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Contrast is the visible difference in the properties of design elements. You can use contrast both to highlight and hide specific elements. By increasing the contrast of a particular element, you make it more noticeable. By lowering the contrast, you can make an element blend into the background. You can also implement contrast in typography, size and shape. For instance, you can place a small object next to a big block of text, add a circle to your design made of squares or use a combination of bold and italic styles.

With the colour wheel, you can create asymmetrical colour combinations by choosing different pairings and combinations that do not adhere to conventional colour rules.

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Using repetition in your design is a great way to strengthen a central idea you want to convey and make it more cohesive. The purpose of repetition is to reinforce certain elements and create a sense of unity, continuity and rhythm in your design. You can create movement through irregular repetition by repeating colour, typeface, shapes and other graphic elements.

How To Use Asymmetry In Design

Here are some ways you can incorporate and master asymmetry in design:

1. Create a focal point

A focal point is a distinctive area of interest, emphasis or difference in a composition that draws the viewer's attention. It is sometimes possible for the visual element to create a focal point and add more visual weight with the help of contrasting colours, frames and lines. You can also create focal points based on your design's relative position, surrounding context and supporting imagery. Asymmetrical elements, especially if they are big, can serve as a natural focal point that can inspire the rest of your design to revolve around it.

2. Implement a visual hierarchy

The ability to apply visual hierarchy principles gives designers an advantage in creating asymmetric designs. Visual hierarchy allows you to create design elements and influence the order in which you want your users to see them. You can use an odd number of elements, create an illusion of depth and use different typefaces of varying sizes and weights to add visual hierarchy to your design and make it more asymmetric.

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3. Analyse your design using a grid

Use a grid when creating digital designs such as web layouts and graphics to make them more aesthetically pleasing and drive user attention. When you create an asymmetrical composition, you can assess its balance by using a grid. Add asymmetrical elements to your design with the help of contrast by including a different shape, size or colour between the top and bottom parts or the left and right sides. You can also create a column grid with an odd number of columns on one side and create elements that are double the width of the columns on the other.

4. Make use of negative space

Asymmetry is a popular choice in minimalistic designs. You can balance a simple object or image against a large white or dark background to make use of excess space. Using negative space effectively groups the text and call-to-action (CTA) together while maintaining a pleasing spatial balance within the design.

Importance Of Asymmetry In Design

Here are some reasons asymmetry is important in design:

  • Makes the design dynamic: Compared to symmetry, finding the right asymmetrical balance takes more effort and experimentation to create modern, energetic and dynamic designs. Such designs also offer more visual variety because of complex relations with design elements.

  • Makes the design more casual: As compared to a symmetrical design, which tends to be more formal, the same level of perfection does not constrain asymmetric designs. The availability of a range of arrangements enables the space to feel a bit more relaxed and casual.

  • Draws attention: When the layout is asymmetrical, the viewer's eye naturally gravitates to the focal points where the focus naturally shifts to the important elements of the design first. You can direct the viewer's attention to different parts of a page by adjusting elements on the page which can help you convey your thoughts to your viewers.

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