Photographers and graphic designers often use the Rule of Thirds. This technique aligns the subject along or at the intersection of two equally-spaced horizontal lines and two equally-spaced vertical lines, creating a much more interesting composition. The image below demonstrates this rule:
The degree to which we require or appreciate balance is subjective, contextual, let’s say even temporal. For example, after a long day exposed to a lot of sensory stimulation, balance becomes more important to me. However, if the intention (after all, design is intent) is to awaken, excite, perhaps even disturb the senses, a lack of balance may be the best design for that scenario. So, either way, it helps to know it when you find it.
I hope this helps you find some balance in 2012!