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How to Use Space in Design?

Space in Design

The human brain is wired such that it tries to make sense out of what your eyes see. And this is even more apparent in Design, which is a highly creative field where basic space, forms, etc. intermingle excellently. This helps the mind to recognize or identify patterns quickly, thereby making them readable or legible.

The use of space, therefore, is an important aspect that must be considered in any design.

What is Space in Design?

Space in Design can be said to be a consideration that acknowledges the importance of empty places or expanse in a particular design. Space helps to produce a sense of separation between design elements, which makes the artistic or decorative work more visually appealing and, therefore, usable.

What is the Function of Space When Used in Design?

Space is used to connect or separate specific elements in Design. For instance, narrow spaces connect some elements which help to disclose the relationships between them. If the design elements overlap, the relationship is maximized. Shaping – as well as controlling – space in Design helps you to create direction, rhythm, and motion, thereby producing design flow. Space also refers to the area in which a form or shape occupies and comes in only two forms: negative or positive.

1. Negative Space

Negative space – also referred to as “white space” – refers to the open, blank, or empty area between design objects or elements. It is an area that lacks content of any kind, e.g., a background. It is perceived as the distinctive attribute of professional Design. However, blank spaces are not always white; they can have colors, exhibit patterns or gradients as well as background objects.

2. Positive Space

Positive space is that space that is filled by the elements or objects in the Design. It is necessary since it allows your eyes to rest, thereby taking the time to assimilate any message that the designer is trying to convey. Positive space also makes it easier for the viewer to navigate your site or page.

Space and What It Achieves in Design

Space – or white space to be precise – does three significant things when used in Design:

  • It improves discernibility, scan-ability or readability
  • It creates emphasis
  • It contributes to the groupings of design elements
  • It helps in decluttering the page
  • It enhances the natural flow on the page as well as the look and style of the web page

When white space is used consistently across pages, it helps to connect those pages. Without space, there is no layout. Visitors do not get confused when the whitespace in boilerplate elements remain the same. The use of white space also helps your site to maintain consistency within a section, thus making it different from other sections. The site remains the same as long as the boilerplate elements remain consistent.

How to Use Space in Design

The use of space has to do with creating balance. Using the right amount of space on a website page brings out the best in both the Design as well as the layout, thereby benefiting the site as a whole. Layouts become very easy on the eyes, thereby encouraging viewers to keep reading or studying. This is highly crucial, especially since the goal of every designer is to deliver a topnotch product to clients. The layout of a webpage involves more than the visual appeal of the design elements. It is quite possible to deliver a sub-par website in spite of the display of beautiful artwork. This is why, as a designer, you should pay close attention to the way white space is used with other design elements. It is also as vital as the aesthetics of the elements themselves.

Using Empty Space in Design

Empty space is not a bad thing, even though some designers feel it is necessary to incorporate as much detail as they can in every open area on a web page to maximize the number of images or features. But this is a poor practice as it can lead to poor readability and confusion. Text requires an appropriate amount of white space as, without it, the content will be unreadable. Too much white space, on the other hand, can also be a huge problem. This is why it is crucial to create a proper balance. Professional designers opine that it is much better to have too much space as against not having enough. But even then, creating balance is still important, and so designers must test things out to find what is suitable or works best.

The proper use of balance, therefore, depends significantly on the amount of content that is presented on a web page.

The Use of White Space

As mentioned earlier, designers should strive to use white space consistently, and this includes consistency in:

  • Line spacing
  • Padding
  • Letter spacing
  • Margin

The use of white space also applies to the spacing between large design elements such as tables, images, or forms.

What You Should Consider When Incorporating Space in Your Design

Although it is vital to include space in layouts, it can easily be crowded out of the Design. Knowing how – and why – such a scenario takes place is also as important as how to prevent it.

Enhance the Interaction between Developer and Designer

A designer may create an extraordinary layout, but the developer working on the same project may have something else in mind. This is why developers and designers must team up to discuss issues such as:

  • Concepts
  • Margins
  • Wireframes
  • Line heights
  • Padding, etc.

When these – as well as other design elements – are considered, misunderstandings will be minimized.

The Presentation of the Design to the Client

Most clients don’t know jack about Design. It is your duty, therefore, to explain the reasons why you are taking specific steps, using layman’s terms that clients can relate with or easily understand. Avoid arguments at all costs, and the best way to do this is by giving valid reasons for the choices or decisions you make concerning the design project at hand. This will also help to build – and maintain – trust between the designer and the clients.

Never Place Excessive Content Above the Fold

At times, a client may insist that you place a lot of content high up on the page, thereby omitting an excessive amount of space. However, as a professional, you should not place excessive content above the fold since a viewer will usually start scrolling from an unknown perspective.


It is natural for us to think in terms of perception, which is primarily based on visuals. Space – both positive and negative – in Design help identify or recognize, recall, and differentiate patterns at all times.