A Solid Understanding of Negative Space

Creative A Solid Understanding of Negative Space

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What is it about some websites which just makes people want to leave them the moment they’ve arrived? In truth it is a combination of different factors but one of the most important of these is the issue of negative space.

What is negative space? In short it is the emptiness around the content within a page. It’s the “air” or the breathing space which allows the eye (and the brain) the freedom and comfort to focus on one element of the page at a time.

A page can be beautifully designed but if the negative space is not well balanced it won’t matter a jot because people won’t want to stick around long enough to make all that effort worthwhile.

Negative space and composition
A great composition has the right balance of negative space between any text and images which are present. Overcrowding is confusing and people like to see the familiar elements as soon as they arrive on a page; they need to know where to look.

Just as in art when a painter leads the eyes of the viewer from one element to another with a great composition, a well designed page does the same thing.

It is not only important to get the right balance within images and banks of text but also within text alone. Large swathes of text can be very off-putting if the spaces between the lines (known as the lead) are not large enough. If you are struggling to read the copy then so will your visitors…and they’ll only struggle for a short amount of time before abandoning their efforts.

Eye-catching and satisfying design is usually the most simply executed design; looking at some of the world’s most famous logos for instance we can see very quickly that negative space is often utilized very effectively.

The FedEx logo is a great example of negative space used well; the gap between the E and the X creates a perfect arrow to indicate the speed of the service and the dynamic nature of the company.


fed ex logo

A well-designed website uses the available negative space in an equally ingenious fashion by creating comfortable resting spots for the eye in between the information and images which are being imparted; there may not be any hidden images as in the FedEx logo but the sense of satisfaction is the same and it just feels right.

There is a lot of intuition involved in visiting a website for the first time; people either like it immediately or they’re hot-tailing it out of there as fast as they can hit the back button.

The use of negative space plays a huge part in that process and getting it right is vital if your site is to be a comfortable place for visitors.

It may take some time but its one battle that’s worth the bother. Look at the websites you enjoy spending time on and make a point of studying their negative space…you’ll soon see why it’s so important.

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