back back
LinkedIn Twitter Instagram

Website Design – What is Negative Space?

Remember those optical illusion pictures that look like a wine goblet in the centre of the page, but when you refocus your eyes you see two faces in profile? That's an example of using negative space. When you see the goblet, the "faces" are the negative space. When you see the faces, then the goblet acts as the negative space. In both cases, negative space helps create the image. Like so:

negative space example

Of course, in website design you're not looking to create strange, illusory shapes in the middle of your homepage. However, understanding negative space can impact the way the eye sees and relates to a page.

In web design, negative space refers to the area between objects on the page. It can be any colour - though "whitespace" is a common term in website design. However, using negative space is not the same thing as creating sparse, minimalist websites.

In logos, negative space is often used to create an image within the main graphic. A famous example of this is the arrow between the E and the X of the FedEx logo.

In terms of the different aspects of a web page, negative space gives each individual element room to be understood. For example, if you have a header containing your primary navigation, then leaving a space between the header and the main page content allows the eye to process this as a separate part of the page.

However, if you compress the navigation bar right up against the content beneath it, then the elements become less distinct and harder to understand. Both usability and attractiveness suffer as consequence.

Negative space is something that takes practice to master. The best website designers know at a glance if something needs shifted a little to improve contrast or if it needs to be isolated to draw the eye towards it. But, if you make a conscious effort to notice the space around your design elements - you can make a big difference in the impact and effectiveness of your page.

7 July 2012
Blog Author
Oliver Pluckrose
Share With:

Companies we have developed software for:

Vulpine
King's Fund
Enigma Quests
Iceland
Dober
Nine Avenue
Foyles
Click Research
Criteo Live
LSE Lighting
CO-OP
Yell
Petainer
Alliance Boots
Horizon Leeds
Asit
Companies Markets
Criterion
Service Monitor
Reed Business Information
Experian
Gaimerz
TSI
Saikou
Imperial College
Argos
Homebase
UTC Aerospace
Virtus
British Gas
Manoto 1
All So Pro
Informa plc
Phones 4U
4D Model Making Materials
Good2Bid
Jaguar Landrover
Centrica
Fan Quake
Capita
Marshall
Compare Hospitality
Pauline Books & Media
eGigger
Grazing Events
British Airways
Grazing Food
SmoQue Grill
British Safety Council
11 Cavendish Square
GetSet4PE
Novartis
Great Eastern
HSBC
UCLH
Saudi Aramco
ASDA
Strengthscope Ltd
Harris Hill
Faber and Faber
Trait Online
Millerhare
Skippy Scout
Michael Northcroft
Buyfair
Capital Medicare
Scottish Court
Think we need to talk?
Got a software development project or app in mind? Let’s hook up, chat things through and we’ll come back with a free no-obligation quote. Call us on +44 (0) 20 3855 0690 or fill out the short form on our Contact Us page.