The Elements of Space in Design

The amount of space that you have to work with is your guiding light on how elements will come together on a site. If you’re catering to certain space requirements, such as those that are popular with mobile viewports, it can inform you on proper placement of buttons, the areas that should be interactive, and more. Space is nothing to be ignored, even if it is empty on the screen, which is why there are a few elements of how we use space that need to be taken seriously if you want your design to be a hit.

The Elements of Space in Design
  • Don’t make any task more difficult than it needs to be. In terms of space in design, there are certain aspects of your user interface that could be more laborious than others, including how you design your drop down menus and navigation tools. You have to remember that most of the mobile devices that are being used fall within the 4” or less screen size, and that performing a high number of gestures on a screen that small can cramp fingers and annoy users. With your space considerations, that means you should look to get the most impact out of the gestures that a user is going to perform. It also means that you should place key functions in their own space, to keep users from accidentally clicking on a feature they didn’t want. When they do, they have to go back, and then strain, or zoom, to click what they did want.
  • Consider sequential arrangement and user flow. When you’re designing a user interface with space restrictions, you should consider how the actual flow of traffic is going to be for your average visitor. If you are creating a website for movie trailers, for example, it can be simple to predict that users will want to see what the most popular trailers are, or will navigate to them directly, followed by suggested lists to check out afterward. Make that entire experience as simple as possible by arranging elements of the user interface to be in a sequential, logical order. Including other “social” functions at the bottom of the flow may also be a smart idea– if you’ve ever seen how YouTube handles this one in particular, they put the entire important player functions right below the video, with the sharing and embed links at the bottom.

Your user interface considerations, and the space required to make them meet your standards, can all lead to a more functional mobile or desktop experience. With mobile in particular, you should be looking at ways that you can streamline and lighten the process to get the most traffic and interaction possible with the least amount of work on the part of the visitor. That doesn’t mean automating everything, of course; rather, it all boils down to giving the user a rich experience without making them click, re-click, zoom, slide, or double tap to get there.

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