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Don’t fear the negative space in web design

When we’re thinking about improving on our website or creating one for the first time, we often give a lot of thought to what we want to include. One thing we sometimes don’t realise is the importance of what we leave out. Negative space in web design refers to the space around the elements (text, copy, images and other features), and is absolutely crucial when creating an intuitive and uncluttered design.

When websites feel crowded, users become overwhelmed. When elements are unevenly spaced, the website stops feeling professional – it feels jarring and homemade.

It is important to create a balance of negative space, and good use of negative space is a combination of maths (take a look at the golden ratio) and an eye for design. Negative space can improve readbility and help the important message to stand out within your website, as well as guiding the user down through the page.

Let’s look at some ways we can use negative space to improve user experience for your prospective clients:

Declutter and reduce
The first step is to be super selective about what you include on your website – we want to eliminate any unnecessary copy and images so we are left with what really matters. Make a list of everything you want to include, and then see if you can reduce it by half by grouping elements and ideas and ditching anything that isn’t necessary. Circle the most important take home messages – these are the things we want to really focus the eye on.

Go small
Think about space between your letters and between the lines of text – this is as important as larger areas of space between elements. Consider spacing letters a little wider in header texts, and looking at larger line spacing in blog posts to help them flow. There are some brilliant golden ratio calculators online that will help you to choose the best line spacing for your font.

Be consistent
Use the same spacing between every element on site consistently. Achieving a consistent spacing above and below text (and to the left and right – although this doesn’t mean centre aligning it all) makes it easy for users to scan down the site. Everything feels measured and balanced and your site feels uncluttered.

Use colour
Negative space absolutely doesn’t need to be white. It could be a brand colour or even a gradient. You want to keep elements balanced and achieve flow without losing your prospective client’s interest.

How does it look on mobile?
This is super important – if elements aren’t aligned carefully within the space on mobile it can look like the site is only partially loaded (never a great first impression!) Check everything carefully on mobile, adjusting the spacing consistently.

Don’t rely on symmetry
A little research into the golden ratio will soon reassure you that the space around elements doesn’t have to be symmetrical and centrally aligned – often a site will feel more engaging and interesting if you do experiment with a little layering and asymmetry. We are drawn to websites that feel ordered and tidy, which can mean using sizing and spacing to increase and decrease the visibility of elements on the page.

The use of negative space should be considered from the very start and a good web designer will be able to talk you through the ways they intend to use it to create balance and interest on your website. Let’s design a modern and uncluttered website for your prospective clients. Book a call, send me an email or fill out the form to get started!

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