Striking visual design is all about balance. In web design, this visual balance can be achieved provided that each element within the user interface (UI) has an appropriate amount of space and prominence. Intentional treatment of negative space can offer a stunning visual impact and contribute to a seamless user experience (UX).

Negative space, also called white space, is a fundamental design element describing the areas between different elements within a design. Although the name may suggest emptiness, these areas are often quite active and vital to the visual composition. Negative space can work to focus the user’s attention and allow them to process the information on the page quickly and easily.

Visual Overload

Designers may be tempted to pack a web page with a variety of styles and interactive elements. In doing so, a designer may hope to accomplish several tasks simultaneously and display their range of skills. In terms of usability however, this approach is rarely productive.

When a web page is congested with too many elements, it often leads to confusion. This overload of visual information can actually distract users from the key design elements. Ultimately, the excess of information can frustrate users and prevent them from finding what they need.

A user-friendly website, on the other hand, provides a focus that effortlessly guides the user through the site. Displaying an appropriate sense of visual balance, the composition can put the user at ease and allow them to navigate through the user journey. White space can supply that breathing room across all elements on the page, directing the user’s attention and making them feel comfortable.

Balancing UI With Negative Space

Technically speaking, negative space both defines an object’s limits as well as forms the essential bonds between objects. Said more simply, white space essentially acts as the background which holds the composition together. This allows the primary elements to stand out, strengthening the visual performance.

Consequently, negative space can have a major impact on creating a positive user experience. The visual break in the composition helps organize the appearance and increase legibility for the user. The improved clarity directs the flow of the user journey, highlighting the key messages and call-to-actions.

Balancing negative space can be as much a science as it is an art. It’s important to remember that there is no “one size fits all” approach: what works on a competitors website may not prove advantageous for your users. While other design elements may or may not add value to the overall user experience, the strategic use of space is vital in modern web design.