Online course: Basic Elements of Design: Design Principles and Software Overview (part of a long term online programme: Graphic Design Elements for Non-Designers)

Dates: any time

Duration: 11 hours

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 out of 571 ratings (see top rating courses here)

Participating countries: any country

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Organizer: University of Colorado Boulder at Coursera


  • FREE
  • $49 with sharable certificate

Basic Elements of Design: Design Principles and Software Overview

Designing for an organization, while requiring technical skill, is not just about knowing how to use a pagination program such as InDesign or manipulate photos using Photoshop. A designer is a visual storyteller, a person who pairs words with images and typography to best convey information to an audience. Good design evokes emotion and presents the news of the day with clarity and the proper tone. A business card, brochure, or website that has good design provides content that is more inviting, more easily comprehensible and is faster to process. Design isn’t about “making it look pretty,” it’s also about content, layout and audience analysis.


  • Recognize ways to work with graphic designers and other creative professionals.
  • Understand the history and design process of the graphic design profession.
  • Compare the concepts of balance, proximity, alignment, repetition, contrast and space.
  • Discover the use of white space to develop shape, form, and structure in graphic projects.




WEEK 1: 4 hours to complete

What is Graphic Design?

This module will cover the history of graphic design, uncover what graphic designers do and review the design process.

Course Introduction
Historical Overview of Graphic Design
What Do Graphic Designers Actually Do?
Design Process

WEEK 2: 3 hours to complete

Elements of Design

This module will introduce the design principles of balance, alignment, proximity, space, repetition and contrast.

Overview of Design Principles
Balance and Alignment
Proximity and Space
Repetition and Consistency
Contrast and Color

WEEK 3: 4 hours to complete

Basic Concepts of Design

This module will go over the expectations of projects in this specialization, how to apply the design principles to the projects, and software needed to product course projects.

Overview of Assignments and Rubric
Online and Adobe Products Overview and Uses

Long term online programme Graphic Design Elements for Non-Designers

This online course is one of the parts of long term online programme “Graphic Design Elements for Non-Designers“, provided by University of Colorado Boulder:

Name of the course Duration (hours) Score Number of ratings
Basic Elements of Design: Design Principles and Software Overview 11 4.7 574
Graphic Elements of Design: Color Theory and Image Formats 12 4.7 378
Textual Elements of Design: Fonts, Typography, and Spacing 13 4.8 138
Print and Digital Elements of Design: Branding and User Experience 10 4.7 111