Graphic design contains underlying principles that govern the most important aspects of great design. These principles create the acronym C.R.A.P. which stands for contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity.The well-balanced combination of these principles tends to create design which most people would consider visually pleasing

To say a design is CRAP is quite the compliment (we suggest not trying this with your designer).The original term was coined by writer Robin Williams in his book “The Non-Designers Design Book” written in 1994. Here is an online pdf version of the book:

Creating a great design is more science that one might think. There are quite a few fundamental principles behind the scenes guiding and directing a designer to achieve great results. By simply following the four basic principles of CRAP (contrast, repetition, alignment, proximity) you’ll be well on your way to aesthetically pleasing design.


Alignment is defined as “lining up the top, bottom, sides, or middle of text or graphic elements on a page” (source: We like to say it’s a “rhyme or reason” to things being where they are. This quality is the single most important principle in great design and typically is the difference between professional designs, and how can we say this… “Unprofessional design”.

In this example of, you see how the various elements of the page, while appearing in the header, the body and in the bottom of the page all align in the same invisible grid. While most people will not realize this aspect of great design, it is quite literally CRITICAL in creating beautiful designs. The more you start looking you will see an underlying grid to nearly all great design.

Things to Consider: Quality alignment is CRITICAL to great design All page elements should be visually connected to something else Alignment of important content items creates attractive design Underlying grids help make a design flow more naturally to users Choose left align, center align or right align (don’t mix) Make sure to match spacing/padding when you align items


Proximity is defined as “the property of being close together” (source: We like to say it’s grouping things that act, look, and feel alike, close together and separating different elements to create more user-friendly websites. Proximity is used to connect like items and separate site content into digestible chunks. By creating a less proximity (less closeness) you can “set apart” or highlight specific items in a design.

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