How to Optimize Negative Space in Web Design

Both art and design are guided by many fundamental principles which are important for every web designer to grasp. One such fundamental is negative space, which is also commonly known as white space.

Negative space is crucial to any great visual composition, and web design uses most of it to introduce distance between elements and allow breathing space on the page. Here are some ways to incorporate negative space in a positive light.

Empty Space is Not Totally Negative

Designers often tend to believe it’s necessary to fill up as much of the white space on a web page as possible so as to add, more images, more features or keep the page smaller. However, that sure cramps everything along and makes text difficult to lay eyes upon.

You’ll need to find a decent balance between ‘too much and too less’ of the white space aspect as the both together often become troublesome to handle. To fix this, you’ll need to rely more on keeping a bit more space in blocks of text to make it look better than having not enough space. After all, using negative space has been a classic design technique for web designing but that it needs to be in perfect balance depending on the project needs.

Content Clarity and Hierarchy

The single most important purpose that a composition-related negative space serves is to help distinguish between tiered page elements. In a regular website, it has to do with the logo, navigation, headers as well as image slideshows, all of which have different size and relationship to each other, based on their importance.

In this context, negative space can be used to increment or diminish the visibility of specific elements placed on the page. Having more space between before and/or after an element compels it to stick out from the other elements on the page.

Typography that’s Readable

As discussed above, negative space is quite important when considering typography. Letters have to be visibly large to facilitate readability, but they also need to be properly spaced out to allow for a sense of distinct words, sentences, as well as paragraphs.

To that end, big headers should capture attention and paragraphs below the headers should be closer to the header so readers can get a sense of the relationship.

Macro v/s Micro White Space

Primarily, white space can be broken down into two major components: macro space and micro space. As a concept, macro space refers to the distance between primary elements of the page including margins between a website’s header, primary content, navigation, footer and so forth. Micro space, on the other hand, relates to the content inside these page elements such as paragraph margins, the space between images etc.

As a designer, you need to maintain a healthy balance at both the macro and micro level when you review your design.

If you want to craft a healthy website layout, you’ll need to use negative space in just the appropriate proportions. While getting to know the theory behind this concept is important, it will help you much if you spend time practicing.