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Something in nothingness

Looking at the roles of active and passive white space in digital

Earvin Fanfair
Nov 5, 2017 · 3 min read

by Earvin Fanfair

What is….

Space

Space is simply a continuous area, free or unoccupied. The intersection of controlling unoccupied space and the reaction it conveys can lead you in multiple directions.

White space/negative space

White space doesn’t always literally mean “white space.” White space is simply negative space that doesn’t hold any cognitive weight.

Active white space

Active white space is the space that is made intentionally to help a user throughout a layout. Organizing content asymmetrically is a commonly used practice in the application of active white space.

Passive white space

Passive white space is the space that is focused on the assembly of procession, readability and the relationship to its surroundings. Passive white space isn’t dependent on the guidance of a page.

Design is a place that isn’t solely bound by the medium its desired output is for. The narrative can be guided and fill you with a multitude of feelings that resonate with you psychologically. In the world of digital, the perspective of white space is commonly viewed through the lens of content. While that’s only viewing what’s on the surface, there are much more factors to be considered.

When talking about colours, hues and shades, the perception it has on you is often inherent of a material property, thus drawing the parallel between the tactile and emotional receptors.

When examining white space, here are a few attributes to keep in mind…

Associations and separations

The belongings of content as a group or vice versa. Both can be equally important in effectiveness.

Empowerment

Giving users a sense of control. Control in pace, through periods of a mental pause. The mental pause also enables assessment. The ability to step back mentally and view things holistically.

Pace

Closely associated to empowerment. Pace helps you set things up for a user by providing them with a sense of comfort, strategically.

Focus

Heighten the focus by drawing attention through reduction and space to help guide a users eye.

Sophistication

Design is a practice of subtraction. Distilling something to its purest form will always lead to a clearer and more effective message. Although white space isn’t the only way to achieve this, it’s an important one in presenting a level of sophistication, consideration and luxury.

In Closing

Viewing white space as active placements throughout a layout will help further the conversation around the necessity of it.

And lastly, always be mindful of what’s ahead. Think about how you can apply white space to help position and impact a users experience.

Thanks,
Earvin

Design Voices

A publication for designers, developers and data nerds …

Earvin Fanfair

Written by

Visual Designer @Google

Design Voices

A publication for designers, developers and data nerds - from the aspiring to the expert, and anywhere in between. Content created and curated by Fjord, design and innovation from Accenture Interactive.

Earvin Fanfair

Written by

Visual Designer @Google

Design Voices

A publication for designers, developers and data nerds - from the aspiring to the expert, and anywhere in between. Content created and curated by Fjord, design and innovation from Accenture Interactive.

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