Applying the Gestalt Design Principles to Form Design

Blog Post created by deanvirag Champion on Mar 6, 2016

I have been creating form and workflow solutions since 2010. And, for a period between 2011 and 2012, that all I did for a small non-profit company. Today, I often cringe when I have to go back and look at the design layouts of my earliest forms. They were functional, but not very pretty. Fortunately, my sense of design has evolved over the years. Experience has taught me what works and what does not work, what looks good and what does not. Recently, I started studying user interface design as part of attempt to better understand the concept of user experience. During my readings I came across a book that described the Gestalt Design Principles and how they related to user interface design. These “descriptive” principles validated many of the design principles that I was already doing. They also opened my eyes to other possibilities in form design.

In this series of blog posts, I will describe seven Gestalt design principles and show how they relate to form design. The final article will talk about combining the principles. I am hoping that this series will provide you with some insight into good form design or validate what you have already been doing.


What are the Gestalt Design Principles?

The following excerpt is from the book, Designing with the Mind in Mind, by Morgan Kaufmann Publishers 2010. It offers a brief history of the Gestalt Design Principles.

Early in the twentieth century, a group of German psychologists sought to explain how human visual perception works. The conducted experiments, observed, and recorded many visual phenomena. One of their basic findings is that human vision is holistic – that is our visual system automatically imposes structure on visual input and is wired to see whole shapes, figures, and objects rather than disconnected lines, edges, and areas. The German word for “shape” or “figure” is Gestalt, so these theories became known as the Gestalt theories of visual perception. 

There are seven principles that apply to form design. They are proximity, similarity, continuity, closure, symmetry, figure/ground, and common fate. In upcoming articles, I will describe each of these principles and provide examples of how they relate to good form design.


The next article in this series is about the principle of Proximity.