Many UI designers make the big mistake of designing web pages that are too complex, busy, and colorful. If this is not intentional, you should avoid creating complex interfaces and use more whitespace instead. Space is a fundamental approach to web page user interface design. Because it can make a huge difference on the page.
For the design and arrangement of web pages and applications, not only the use of all visual elements should be purposeful, but the use of space or white space between elements also follows the same principle. The use of negative space must have a reason and principles.
In this article, we talk about the importance of negative space. We also share tips on how to use it correctly in user interface design.
Table of Contents
What is negative space?
Before we begin, let’s first define exactly what negative space is. Negative space or white space means any unused space on a web page or application. Anything that does not attract the user’s attention on the page is negative space. Of course, this does not mean that the space must be white, but it can be any color, image, or another background.
White space should be considered an active element, not a passive background.
Negative space has two levels: micro and macro. Micro negative space refers to the space between small elements such as lines, words, and letters. While macro negative space is the space between larger blocks or elements. Both of these levels are important to the overall effectiveness of web design. Next, we will tell you how to use negative space to improve the web user interface or application.
How to use negative space in user interface design?
1. Use negative space to break the page
Breaking screen space is one of the most basic visual components in the design. When a web page has too much information and too little space, it becomes very difficult for visitors to focus on the main information. Negative space gives users time to understand the information they see on the page.
There are a few rules that help UI designers create symmetrical compositions on the page and ensure that users see the information correctly and clearly:
Leave equal space between the components of the composition to maintain the proper structure of the design. This helps users to see and read the information.
According to the composition rules in web design, the space between these micro blocks should be one-third of the space between macroblocks.
2. Focus on understanding
The structure and layout of the content and its readability are very important in the design of the web user interface. Compliance with the necessary standards for those two items helps to understand the content. Because if the entire text of the content does not have the correct structure and arrangement, and also the individual words and sentences are not placed correctly and at the right distance, the text is not readable and, as a result, is incomprehensible to the user.
Negative space can optimize both. If the proper spacing between lines, words, and letters is used correctly, it increases the understanding of the text many times. Correct columnarization and paragraphing, appropriate margining of the general box, and the use of correct punctuation help the user to better read and understand the text on the page.
The space between each line increases the overall readability of the text.
3. Create a visual hierarchy
Negative space is not just empty space between elements on the page. Rather, it is an essential tool for creating a visual hierarchy. Negative space can combine or separate UI elements. Therefore, negative spaces make the page UI design more effective. This causes visitors (users) to stay on the page for a longer time. Additionally, negative space directs the user’s attention to important elements and creates a rest for the eye.
4. Clarify relationships by applying the rule of proximity
One of the goals of user interface design is to guide the user and help him interact with the site or app. For this reason, psychological discussions help the designer to better understand the user and his needs. Among the principles of psychology that serve the UI designer, we can mention the principles and laws of Gestalt. One of the six principles and laws of Gestalt is the law of proximity.
This law says that the human mind tends to see things that are close together as related and as a group. In the design of the user interface of the site or its blog, negative space can be used to clarify and build adjacencies and groups. Therefore, it is as if a kind of columnarization and categorization has been created with negative space between the visual elements of the page.
Examples of using negative space in the UI design of different sites
Let’s take a look at the following page designs that are examples of smart use of negative space:
APPLE has always paid great attention to user interface design, and its website is no exception. Just see how masterfully the micro and macro negative space has been used. The website has a simple structure and an attractive and clear Call to Action (CTA).
The negative space of the image of the product in the center of the screen makes it bolder and gives it more effect. This is why the user remains focused only on the product and its features that are written for him.
Google is probably the granddaddy of the negative web space. The search giant has used a lot of negative space and simple design to draw our attention to the search bar itself. Google simply directs the user to the active areas of the page, i.e. Gmail, images, and the search bar. The layout is kept clear and simple to avoid confusion.
The Dropbox homepage is a combination of negative space and natural color palette that creates a calming atmosphere and provides a smooth user experience for the user. This website looks simple and uniform due to the proper use of negative space.
Shopify’s e-commerce website uses a lot of white space to achieve its main goal. Shopify surrounds the signup form with negative space so that visitors will see it when they land on the homepage. In addition, the white space around the main menu makes the user’s focus and attention to be completely on the menu.