How do I apply spacing best practices to different types of apps?


  • Establish a visual hierarchy with deliberate spacing and adopt a grid system for consistent alignment. 
  • Use negative space, distinguishing between macro and micro, to logically group elements and enhance text comprehension. 
  • Incorporate the principle of proximity, grouping related elements together.
  • Implement spacing scales for different design purposes.

Detailed answer

Ample spacing gives your layout room to breathe, guiding users' eyes and improving readability and comprehension. Here's how to strategically use spacing to enhance your web app designs:

Establish a clear hierarchy

Ask yourself: 

  • How does the design direct the user's attention?
  • What elements hold the most importance?
  • Are users directed through the interface in a logical sequence?

Use deliberate spacing to distinguish essential information, create visual groups, and define relationships between elements. Remember, white space doesn't need to be literally white. Use background colors to achieve the same effect.

Related reading: How does white space affect user comprehension and engagement with content?

Adopt grid systems

Consider adopting a grid system to streamline your layout process and maintain consistency. Grids create visual balance and ensure content elements align harmoniously.

A visualization of the grid system on two mockups.


There are many different types of grid systems, but some common examples include:

  • The 12-column grid: This is one of the most popular grid systems and is often used in web design. It is divided into 12 equal-width columns and can be used to create a wide range of layouts.
  • The Golden Ratio grid: This grid system is based on the mathematical ratio of 1:1.618, which is believed to be aesthetically pleasing to the eye. It is often used in print design, such as in book and magazine layouts.
  • The modular grid: This grid system is made up of modular blocks that can be rearranged to adapt to different screen sizes. This makes it ideal for responsive design.
  • The asymmetrical grid: This grid system breaks away from the traditional symmetrical layout and allows for more creative and unique layouts. It is often used in editorial and advertising design.
  • The hierarchical grid: This grid system prioritizes the visual hierarchy of the design, by organizing elements based on their importance. It is often used in information-heavy designs, such as dashboards and data visualization.

Related reading: How can I choose the right spacing system?

Use negative space wisely 

Adding negative space to a design doesn't just mean creating bigger gaps between elements. When done right, negative space helps maintain visual balance, adds to the feeling of spaciousness, and emphasizes the intended message.

To apply negative space effectively, differentiate between macro (space between larger components) and micro (space between smaller components) negative spaces. Use paddings, margins, and line spacing to manipulate negative space. 

Line spacing, a form of micro negative space, improves text comprehension significantly, with guidelines suggesting it should be at least 150% of the font size.

Good and bad examples of using a negative space in the blog article about pottery.


Related reading: Why is spacing important? 

Consider the principle of proximity

Group related elements closer together, separating unrelated elements with more spacing. This signals to the user which components work together, improving the overall understanding of interface functionality.

Good and bad examples of grouping the elements in the interface.


Create spacing scales

Employ various spacing scales (small, medium, large) for distinct purposes. Smaller spacing is suitable for elements within a group, while larger spacing creates separation between different sections of the design.

By grounding your spacing decisions in these principles, you'll equip yourself to make informed choices that prioritize usability and deliver delightful experiences within your applications. 

🤝 Credits

Our content combines the knowledge of Cieden’s designers with insights from industry influencers. Big thanks to all the influencers for sharing awesome content!

start your project with us.

Getting in touch
is easy .
Thank you for your message. It has been sent