Using space, or the emptiness between objects, is an essential balancing element for websites and digital interfaces. It may seem as underrated as the silence between musical notes. But these are what bring your UX designs to life.

Interactive design is composed of many elements, such as layout and structure. Often neglected is negative space, which is one of the most vital, nevertheless.

The advent and popularity of online digital communication, data sharing, entertainment, and business have impacted modern UI design. Every company focuses on user retention by rolling out rich user experiences.

Space found inside and surrounding the UI component’s design elements is vital to enriching this experience.

Another design aspect for enterprise applications is data density. Enterprise users typically deal with large datasets and want to maximize the content using single-page designs without scrolling or going to another page. This sometimes comes for the sake of not utilizing blank space.

Utilizing blank space is like using a canvas to paint. It can be balancing, aesthetic, and helpful in laying out the design elements and organizing content. Universal readability is key to your design and content. Components that are not correctly spaced out can give your users a hard time understanding your website’s information.

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Many UX designers consider it a tough call between keeping blank space and avoiding it. Many clients think of empty space as wasted real estate on a web page. They request that designers fit in more information or visual elements even if readability is marginally compromised.

Many users need to see as much information as possible on the page as they are dealing with tasks and systems that require lots of data.

On the contrary, some users find it hard to digest crammed-up content, which ultimately impacts the business.

In this blog, we help you understand reconciling with what enterprise users need without discounting the basics of design principles when it comes to spacing.

Say hello to spacing

The visible negative space between screen elements can be color, texture, pattern, or even a background image instead of just being blank.

Why negative space?

Design theory encourages the use of negative space for elegance and improved user experience quality. According to UX designers, negative space is an excellent technique of balancing design elements and better organizing content while working correctly between words and pictures.

It has a calming effect on readers when too much information bombards them.

The other reasons why using negative space is essential to include;


It is necessary to make the interface content legible and appealing. As a designer, you should consider negative space when specifying the design typography, such as the font, color, size, style, kerning, leading, and tracking. Changing the spacing in layout impacts readability, and eventually, the performance and overall user experience dips if not used appropriately. Remember, engaged readers, are more likely to stay on your business page.

Design tone and branding

Spacing contributes to the tonality of the overall design and appeal of the brand. Websites with more negative space may reflect minimalism and luxury. Web pages with less negative space may seem informative.

However, this depends on individual user perception, and it’s always recommended to test the use of negative spaces before applying them.

Focus and attention

Negative space usage can help users navigate through interactive content. It may help gain focus and anchors the user’s attention to targeted areas of the layout.

When designers strategically plan for a website, they must prioritize the placement of specific elements or content. There are many visually balancing methods to throw the spotlight on particular features. One is to play around with negative space, which branding and print industries apply to draw attention to brand messages.

Improves comprehension

Using space evenly makes the design content easily comprehendible. A recent study indicated that the ideal use of blank spaces between lines of paragraphs and its left and right margins could improve comprehension by almost 20%. This is where micro blank space plays a pivotal role.

A properly placed negative space can give users visual cues about where they should be looking. This offers plenty of visual buffer around an element so that the brain can quickly process it.

Implies design sophistication

Blank space can be the catalyst to creating a certain mood or look in a design that can relate to sophistication. Using it effectively can bring these associations to your design.

Too many graphic elements make the overall look of a design sluggish and confusing. We recommend improving the design with carefully planned blank spaces instead of adding more and more imagery, defeating the purpose.

Logical grouping of information– The Gestalt Design Principle

Gestalt’s theory in psychology states that “The whole is other than the sum of the parts.” This defined a set of visual laws based on many design principles. The law of proximity is one of them.

It indicates that elements that appear close to each other are more likely to be perceived as similar. Understanding things like they are more similar creates the tendency to group those elements visually.

This influences the aspects our mind uses to organize visual information. If this is not the intention, then blank spaces help users logically identify the data presented. Margins and gutters between grids make it easy to handle the logical Grouping of layout elements.

Types of blank spaces

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Micro blank space

This type of blank space is found between lines and paragraphs. It includes the spacing for grid images that are used to segregate menu links.

The micro blank space is linked directly to content legibility on a page. Marginal blank space, for example, impacts the reading speed and comprehension of content by users.

Macro blank space

This relates to the large space surrounding major design layout elements. Macro blank space can be found to the left and right of most websites’ content and in the space between content blocks on a web page.

Macro blank spaces act as the containers of an overall design. They help defeat content clutter and guide the users in focusing on their goals while on a webpage. These blank spaces help decrease the loading time of a page too.

Based on usability, the two types of blank spaces include:

The active blank space is consciously added to your design for emphasis and structural clarity. It is left out intentionally to focus on the content and to delimit one element from the other.

The passive blank space occurs naturally in a design space. Examples include the area between words on a line or the minimal space surrounding a logo or graphic element.

Factors that determine which negative space you should use

  • Content – With more content, the macro blank spaces’ size will shrink while their volume increases. This compromise is essential to avoid the solid chunks of data that are difficult to read.
  • Design – The UI design structure influences the micro and macro blank spaces ratio in the layout. Since the designer chooses the design style, a bias over the type of blank space in the layout is evident.
  • User – User research (usage trends, demographics, preferences, etc.) helps determine the right balance of macro and micro blank spaces for a specific user profile or group.
  • Branding message – Using blank spaces can impact product quality and, thus, the branding roadmap. Top brands like Apple and Mercedes Benz implement micro and macro blank spaces strategically to influence their branding.

Essential considerations for negative space usage

Negative space is an active design element

Clients usually associate more negative space with lesser content value and vice versa. On the other hand, showing more content in one view doesn’t necessarily lead to “less scrolling.”

It is essential to understand that negative space is an active design element with a purpose. It adds more breathing space and improves how users interact with the UI.

Negative space is a worthy investment in UX design 

According to the famous calligrapher and typographer Jan Tschichold, “The real meaning of form is made clearer by its opposite. We would not recognize the day as day if night did not exist. The ways to achieve contrast are endless: the simplest is large/small, light/dark, horizontal/vertical, square/round, smooth/rough, closed/open, colored/plain, close/distant, all offer many possibilities of effective design.”

Negative space is the contrast element that helps achieve functional visual hierarchy in layouts. This contrast actively aids in identifying the proximity/distance between objects.

Negative spacing powers up the visual hierarchy

Surrounding blank spaces add emphasis that leads to creating an impactful visual hierarchy. Additional value is added to chunks on the screen that need intentional focus and instant user attention.

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Negative space can be used at multiple levels

Blank space or negative space is used between 2 baselines of text lines. Research has proven that a positive correlation exists between line spacing and text comprehension. The following image is an example of the above statement.

Negative space can be applied between components like labels, text boxes, buttons that flow in a hierarchical sequence.

The following image delineates the different levels of negative space applications on a page. You can also view the comparison between two different pages with distinct multi-level negative space placement.

Key takeaways

1.    Figure out the significance of data to the user and their usage points along the design workflow. This can help in organizing the page.

2.    Get rid of redundant or unyielding data to alleviate data density.

3.    Use meaningful data visualization purposefully. Consider if it is worth taking up space on the page.

4.    Use Gestalt design principles based on relevance for optimized information grouping, organization, and presentation on a page.

How to Use the Gestalt Principles for Visual Storytelling #PoDV ...

5. Use color meaningfully. Too many colors or variants on the page can confuse the user while looking for quick information.

6. Create reusable components for filtering, searching, sorting, and pagination of data tables. This requires a lot of user feedback and understanding of what they do and how data simplifies everyday tasks.

7. Essentially, blank space done right makes the user’s experience more lightweight, easy, and comfortable to explore.

Want to explore blank space strategies that help you create exceptional UX designs?

Connect with our design team at Radiant Digital today and get your designs evaluated by experts.