How to Use Negative Space in Web Design

Friday - August 30th, 2013

Written by: Tristan Pelligrino

How to Use Negative Space in Web Design

White space, or negative space, is an incredible tool for drawing attention to the elements that we truly want to highlight. However, just like anything else, too much of a good thing is a bad thing. Since it can be easy to go overboard with negative space in your web design, here are a few tips to keep your negative space effective, functional, and beautiful.


Know Your Content


While negative space is an incredible tool to showcase the most important aspects of your site, using large areas of white space for its own sake is actually a poor tactic. In other words, don’t use negative space unless you have a purpose for using it. Unless you know what you’re trying to highlight, it’s impossible to use it effectively. By familiarizing yourself with the content and messaging strategy on your site, you’ll be able to incorporate negative space in such a way that enhances your content.


Strike a Balance


Just as too much content and design elements can create a busy page, it’s possible to go over the top with negative space. To combat this issue, strike a balance by adding negative space where you would have otherwise placed content for the sole purpose of having something there. Furthermore, balance doesn’t have to solely come from large stretches of negative space. White space inherent in your design elements, such as spacing, letter spacing, page margins, and other aspects of micro-negative space, can have just as big of an impact as incorporating large areas of negative space throughout the page.


One of the easiest ways to do this is to utilize what’s already on your website. For instance, exaggerating page margins with negative space is an incredible way to draw attention to a product or content. Apple is one of the most famous examples of a major corporation that uses large swaths of negative space in the margins to highlight a product. Whether you’re looking at an iPhone, iPad, or other Apple product, you’ll see that major areas of negative space surround the image of the product.


Negative Space Doesn’t Have to Be White


Keep in mind that negative space doesn’t necessarily have to be white. While you want to avoid content or busy images in negative space, feel free to use colors that match the color palette of your business or to utilize minimal designs that add to the general atmosphere of your site. In other words, negative space doesn’t have to be entirely devoid of all design. Instead, it’s an opportunity for you to design an area that’s strategically minimal.


After you’ve incorporated basic minimalist concepts into your web design, it will be easier and more natural to incorporate negative space. Furthermore, if you’re using a responsive template that adapts naturally to browsers of any device, you’ll find that the areas of negative space will appear naturally. By following these natural patterns, you’ll be able to strike a balance between negative space and optimized content.

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