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White Spaces in UI design

Posted on 01.25.19 by Mohd Adil Khan, Tech Solution Analyst

“If everything yells for your viewer’s attention, nothing is heard.”

It is said that ‘absence is a good presence’ i.e. we often realize the gravity of a substance in the absence of it. It is colorlessness that makes us feel the importance of bright and profound colors. It is emptiness that indicates how vital it is to fill the void. In the same way, it is lack of air that makes us realize its prominence in each and every field. It is important for design, write ups, artworks and numerous such fields. Let’s have a look over the significance of air in design.

What is negative space in design?

Negative space (or white space) is the space inside the design and its surroundings that has been left vacant. They are threads that bind the design elements with each other and help to increase the visibility and readability of a text. It is this mutual relationship between elements and spaces that completes the design as a whole and makes them look more expressive and visually appealing.

“White space is like a canvas: It’s the background that holds the elements together in a design enabling them to stand out.”

Negative spaces are present almost everywhere. They are as underrated and parallelly as important as silence between musical notes; not noticeable but powerful enough to keep people on your page. However one should make sure that white spaces are present in right quantity for a design. If the designer prefers keeping very less white spaces then there is a probability that design may feel quite chaotic and cluttered to the viewers. Moreover, if the designer prefers setting up too much white spaces in a design then the objects may seem distant to the viewers. This in turn leads to a great deal of contrast between object and its setting. Hence, white spaces shouldn’t be executed poorly for a design as then there are chances for them to jump off the page.

Although the terms white spaces and negative spaces are quite interchangeable, this meaning exists in two different words. It is because the term ‘negative’ in negative spaces indicates the background of the image i.e. something which normally goes unnoticed. The term ‘white’ in white spaces indicates the white color of the unused part of the image. Although these terms are exchangeable, some designers confuse white spaces with negative spaces that are white in color. This is not the case. There is no compulsion on negative spaces to be white in color. They can be a color, a pattern or even a background.

Core Factors influenced by negative space:

  • Readability and legibility :
    Readability and legibility are two different subjects that account to scanning the content and perceiving the letters and words respectively. Content should be optimized keeping in mind both these terms. In order to vividly define the elements of a design one should deploy considerable spacing between elements. Hence, negative spaces play an important role in making the text easier to read.
  • Branding :
    To make a visually impactful logo for any brand the designers should define appropriate amount of negative spaces for it. They help in providing prominent discernment to a logo design to grab the attention of the viewers.
  • Sharpens content hierarchy :
    Viewers always go for the site which is quite ordered and tidy. A messed up site leaves a negative impression on the viewer. It makes him believe that the company would be having the same characteristics. Therefore, a designer should apply white spaces in such a manner that the user is able to clearly differentiate between various elements. It would help in enhancing both content and visual hierarchy.

Pitfalls to consider:

  • Complicated terminologies :
    The subject of negative spaces is quite cumbersome for those who are not much into designing. Hence, it becomes the responsibility of designers to explain about dos and don’ts of negative spaces to their clients. They should be explained about the intricacies of white spaces and about the right places to apply them.
  • Wish to reduce negative spaces to put more on page or screen :
    A designer should focus on multiple aspects while considering the application of negative spaces on their work. They should apply negative spaces such that there is more room for useful designing elements along with making them appear distinctive and visually luring. It should be up to the designer to decide how much white space is beneficial and what part is not so that user can navigate through website in a hassle free manner.

Nothing can be better than giving your design space and air to breathe. Setting up extra spaces will help your design elements look distinguished from each other. It is mandatory to use white spaces to the right extent. Going to the extremes won’t do any good. On the other hand, using very less white spaces will make your design busy and full of chaos. Hence, we can say that negative spaces influence the overall outlook of a design, its legibility, a viewer’s perspective about the presentation of the design along with the company it is associated with.

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