Negative Space Has Positive Impact


Millions and even billions of users visit Google, an ultra popular search engine, daily. On special occasions they may have a signature “doodle” but what makes the site most appealing to users is the use of white space. Visitors to the site are greeted by a mostly white page with a few links and a search box. The emphasis placed on white space in this case allows for the important information to stand out making the site extremely user friendly.

White space is “negative” space–or the space that makes the relevant components stand out in the “positive” space. White space is not just aesthetically appealing, but it’s also helpful for organizing information and directing users to the parts of the page that in turn make it so easy to use. Websites that do not have enough white space suffer from clustering and information getting jumbled and possibly misinterpreted.

While Google uses a lot of white space, most successful sites have a balance between positive and negative space. This allows these sites to both present all data and at the same time not overwhelm visitors to the site. The user experience is critical in not only engaging visitors but in encouraging them to make return visits to the site for more information or future business.

While it is obvious to point out the aesthetic appeal of white space, “negative” space has other positive attributes too. White space enables users to have a better understanding of the organization’s visions and goals because they are clearly defined and presented in a way that is easily processed by the user.

While white space may seem like an afterthought in the design process, the appropriate use of white space has the ability to elevate the user experience. In the overall design, white space improves aesthetics, facilitates understanding of ideas, draws attention to particular areas of the site, and coordinates in the user’s mind the relationships between different sections of a company’s website.

Building a great user experience is one of the primary generators of repeat visitors or repeat customers to a site. The use of white space is critical in delivering the desired experience as it can affect the mood and feel of a website. White space helps to highlight the relationships between the elements of a website and helps to avoid chunking or clustering, which can result in an informational overload–an instant turnoff for users. Limiting the cognitive load that visitors take on is instrumental in delivering a top-notch user experience, and the appropriate use of white space by popular sites such as Google shows that even negative space has immense positive value to the future success of organizations across the globe.