Negative Space in webdesign

Negative Space in webdesign

When looking at a blank space, most people see possibility, a space to make design elements. But what if that blank canvas had a use of its own? That’s how you need to start thinking about negative space in your designs: not a waste of space, but a tool to aid in directing attention, creating contrast and composing space.

Unfortunately for readers, too many people prescribe to the “more is more” style of web design. Whatever their reasoning, wanting to grab attention or that blank space equals wasted ad space, the results are the same: a painfully ugly and unreadable website. They fail to recognize the nuance of negative space. True, if used incorrectly, you could be misusing the space available to you. But if approached with an artistic and experienced eye, the viewer won’t even notice the blank areas. With negative space, balance is key. Check beautiful websites using the negative space.

Negative Space in web design as an Active Element

Designers need to start thinking about negative space not as an optional design element, but as a must-have.
Websites are created with a purpose. And that purpose is usually to convince the viewer to do something, whether it’s buying a product, learning about a topic, or even just simply to keep reading. If a website is too crowded with multiple messages and images, that purpose can easily be lost. Negative space helps the reader to identify what the central message of the site is. If the purpose of your site is communicated through visuals, negative space allows those visual elements to stand out against the background and allow for easy interpretation. Negative space can also be useful in helping viewers navigate the website. If a viewer can grasp the flow of a site, it will that much easier for them to understand your message.

Beware the Passive Negative Space

Active negative space is very beneficial in helping increase both the readability and ease of navigation of a website. But passive negative space can be almost as bad as an overcrowded design. Large bare patches can confuse the reader, appear to be a mistake, and interrupt the flow of the design. When used incorrectly, negative space can give your site an unprofessional look.


The human brain is a marvelous but limited organ. A research suggests that people can only focus on four things at a time, on average. This means that your working memory, the part of your memory that you are actively accessing, needs to be able to separate out what is important from what is just background noise. This is where negative space comes into play, breaking up the design elements and highlighting the central message. So remember next time you’re designing or commissioning a site: negative doesn’t always mean bad.