Key Design Principles: Dominance

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This article is part of series on Effective Slide Design. You can find the other 2 parts here:

Effective Slide Design Principle 1

White Space

Learn to apply one of the key design principles – dominance, and make your slides look professional and powerful.

Here is a question for you:

Dominance Design Principles

If the points on your PowerPoint presentation were to come to life and talk about how they feel about being on your slides, what will you hear them say?

  • Would they feel like passengers in a crowded train or like travelers in a limousine– getting special attention and respect?
  • Would they feel like a Rockstar enjoying all the adulation and limelight or like a chorus singer who is barely noticed?
  • Would they smile with confidence or would they be annoyed at being ignored?

Answers to those questions determine the effectiveness of your presentations.

One quick way to improve the effectiveness of your presentation is to follow the principle of Dominance in your PowerPoint slides.

What is the Design Principle of Dominance?

Dominance in slide design is about making the most important element of a slide stand out from the rest.

  • It helps your audience to get the core point of your slide at a glance. So, you spend less time orienting their thought process to your message
  • It also helps to anchor your audience attention to your slide. So, you can navigate them through the rest of the points with ease

Here is a simple rule to apply the design principles of dominance in your slides:

Decide on one core point for your slide and let every element in your slide revolve around it.

Take a look at the following slide on Data presentation:

Design Principles of Data Presentation

The core point of the slide is – Product Y sold the most in April.

Notice that the core message is written on the title, where the eyes of your audience land first.

The evidence for the message is clearly highlighted in the chart.

  • The distinct font color of April column showcases the core message
  • The enlarged font size for the month’s performance reinforces the core message
  • All other distracting elements, like grid lines and Y axis are removed to add focus to the core message.

Such design principles make it easy for the audience to grasp the core message of the slide instantly.

Let us see another example of the principle, from a design perspective. Take a look at the following slide:

Design Slides Leading Eyes

The presenter decided to make the red glossy ball dominate the slide. Once the decision is made, the entire attention of the slide is focused on the red ball.

The direction of the silhouette leads the eye movement towards the ball. The color of the ball stands out distinctly from the rest of the slide. The slide has one dominating element, which is unmistakable.

Focused slides like this are easily remembered by the audience.

Here are three quick design principles to lead the attention of your audience to your core point:

1.Use a contrasting color for your core point:

Let the core point stand out in a distinct color. In the following example, we wanted to draw the attention of the audience on the second point of the presentation agenda. So, we used a contrasting color for the number, while keeping the rest of the elements uniform.

Design Principles Contrasting Color in Agenda

2. Use a purposeful design element:

In the following slide, we used a green colored strip to flag the audience attention to the contact details. The icons on the strip lend purpose to the design element.

Design Contact Details End of Presentation

This contact us form used at the end of the presentation really catches audience attention. With a bit of application, you can think about a number of ways to include a purposeful design element to focus the attention of your audience to your core point.

 3. Play up a specific idea:

Take a look at the following ‘Product listing’ slide:

Product Listing Design Stylish

We wanted to lead the audience attention to ‘Our Solutions’

We used the visual of a keyhole to anchor the attention of the audience. The shape of the element naturally leads the audience eyes to the rest of the content on the slide.

Take a little time to see how these design principles are applied in good visual slides. Notice how the presenter leads your attention to the core point. It is the best way to get the audience to internalize the idea.


Dominance is one of the core design principles for PowerPoint. It adds power and character to your slide content. Learn to apply the principle in your slides and see the difference it makes to your message effectiveness.

The example slides used in this article (apart from the chart) are all part of our Pick and Stick design elements pack. The pack has 60 useful design elements you can copy paste to your slides to create professional slides instantly.

Here is a quick and easy solution…

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