Amateur designers often assume that consumers and internet users want complexity, when in fact most are seeking simplicity. As you refine your web and graphic design skills, take the time to explore the concept of negative space and how it can be leveraged for maximum visual impact.

What is Negative Space?

Negative space, also referred to as white space, is a term used to describe the areas between different elements on a web page. These spaces intentionally avoid displaying content. Negative space is typically white – hence the alternative name – but it doesn’t have to be. It can be any color, pattern, or background that’s absent of design. It complements the other design elements and helps them stand out.

Exploring the Benefits of Negative Space

Negative space takes on many different forms and can be used in a variety of ways. Depending on your execution and desired effect, negative space can yield any or all of the following benefits in your web design:

1. Improves Readability

“It is very important that the visitors on your website find the copy easy to read,” one web designer writes. “This means that the content and copy on a web page (as opposed to book or paper) has to be treated in a specific manner.”

White space – or whatever color/background you choose to use – helps the copy on the foreground pop off the page. This page from Progressive Punctuation is a good example. Notice how the words seem to float against the negative space in the background. It would be much harder to read the copy if the background consisted of busy designs.

2. Reduces Stress

Life is fully of busyness, clutter, and stress. Negative space represents the absence of these things – a chance to pause and sit in stillness. It’s the yin to the yang – offering balance in an internet landscape that seems hell-bent on being overwhelming.

If you’re trying to put website visitors at ease, using a lot of negative space can help by eliminating distractions and introducing a sense of calmness and serenity. White is always a good choice, but so is blue.

“Peaceful, calm and gentle, blue has tremendous power to manage stress,” Inam Sarah Pangin writes. “It's a very soothing color that helps calm your mind, slow down your heart rate, lower your blood pressure and reduce anxiety. Blue is believed to have a cooling and astringent effect.”

Pale yellow-greens and light pinks are also effective in promoting tranquility and eliminating stress. Try to avoid bright colors like red, orange, and neon shades of yellow and green. Even if they’re part of the brand’s color palette, they can heighten feelings of stress.

3. Enhances Focus

Internet users are more distracted than ever before. With things like pop-ups, banner advertisements, auto-play videos, social icons, and live chat boxes, it’s easy for website visitors to get distracted from the elements that matter most: the products. Negative space can help.

Negative space actively works to enhance focus on the elements that matter. This is especially helpful when you have products that are rich in color and texture. This is perfectly illustrated in Holabird Sports’ web design. Notice how the crisp white space in the background allows the products to jump off the screen.

4. Communicates Sophistication

Negative space does more than amplify design on individual web pages – it also contributes to a company’s overall brand image.

Websites with a large presence of uninterrupted white space convey an air of minimalism and luxury. Websites with smaller white space and lots of text/visual elements, on the other hand, come across as informative and practical. (Think vs. Both have white space, but one looks sophisticated. The other embodies a more educational tone.)

You can easily adjust the amount of negative space that’s present in a particular design to communicate a precise feeling and message. Use this as your secret weapon.

Putting it All Together

It’s up to each web designer to determine how much negative space they want to incorporate in their web designs. Some pages look best with heavy design, while others yield a more cohesive look with minimal design and lots of white space.

The more you leverage it, the easier it’ll become to achieve the right balance.

Author's Bio: 

My name is Jessica and I am an independent journalist, freelance blogger, and technology junkie with a passion for music, arts, and the outdoors. One of my greatest passions and joy is assisting communities and business owners. My utmost desire is to help people and business owners to succeed and prosper in their personal and business affairs. I share, comment, write and edit popular news stories.