Basic Principles WHITE SPACE

White space is also called neutral space and is considered to be as important as the words, pictures and objects it surrounds. It doesn’t necessarily need to be white.

Neutral space helps us make sense of what we are looking at. Imagine going into a room and seeing every wall covered with information, photos and messages. You would probably feel a bit overwhelmed. Your eyes would need to scan back and forth while you try and make sense of all the data and work out what the most important information is.

Way back in the 1950s there was a whole movement of type designers who thought that simple, uncluttered lettering was preferable to the ornate curliness of the 1920s and 30s. This was known as the Swiss Style and is typified by a very clean and uncluttered look. The catch phrase of the time was ‘less is more’.

Critics of this approach subsequently stated that ‘less was a bore’.

Less is more

So how do you achieve simplicity without oversimplifying your ideas?

Any ideas?

Basic Principles PROXIMITY

Proximity is about how near or far objects are from one another.

Our brains make a lot of assumptions for us based on where things are located in relation to one another. People assume that there is a relationship between things that are together, even if there isn’t.  We just assume that things that are close together, belong together. Think of salt and pepper shakers, or two friends meeting in the park. When we see a couple with their heads close together, deep in conversation, we know that they are  ‘a couple’ and not just friends. When you are designing documents or slides, always put related information together so that people can easily see that it’s related. It’s equally important to use lots of white space to separate information that’s not related.

This seems really obvious, but its a design principle that is often neglected.