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Proximity

Synonyms: presence, nearness, juxtaposition, adjacency

It is generally known that a good interface design is not just the artist’s fantasy, but the development of an easy and effective user experience. To make your product human-friendly you can base your design on the user's psychology. That is where proximity breaks out.

 

So, what is about proximity that is so important to know as a design professional? Proximity stands for a rule of how we group objects and perceive them. It is a proven fact that if you see several objects close to each other you automatically read them as an impartial block. That works even if some objects are not look-alike: the proximity principle is more valuable than similarity. 

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Here is a standard example: what do you see in those dots? It is 99.9% that you will break them into two groups and that is how the proximity principle works. Objects that are placed close together are consolidated as one block by our mind, no matter what shape or color they are.

 

Source: Nielsen Norman Group

 

Why Use It?

This is all interesting in theory, but why to practically use proximity in your design?

 

  1. To begin with, the proximity-oriented design allows you to use all the negative (white) space in-between blocks on the page, hence — to organize content without extra details and effort.
  2. Structuring the content like this makes it easy to scan and navigate all over the page.
  3. Using the proximity principle makes your design user friendly and more convenient to work with.
  4. It also makes the page aesthetically clean, adds air to your design.
  5. In any case, it makes your interface great again.

There are several ways of applying this feature to your website, product or service.
 

  1. Copy content as blogs, information pages and ‘about us’ sections can be improved by the practice of proximity. This will allow you to separate and systematize text blocks, unify similar paragraphs and show the difference between the others.
  2. Proximity can make menus, catalogs and other listing information more organized, it can group positions effectively, arrange the blocks and enhance the content hierarchy.
  3. Page blocks as product cards or CTAs are also gaining from proximity. Elements inside the cards are unified and easier to perceive without any additional UI as borders or contrast colors.
  4. Some of screen sections as controls, contacts or content blocks could be easier to navigate through with the implementation of the proximity principle. That makes user interaction and the whole impression about your interface better.

Though we briefly opened the door to Gestalt Principles in this article, you can already engage proximity in your design projects and let it upgrade your work, making the user experience and psychological perception nicer. If you want to dig in this topic deeper — please, check our articles on continuation, symmetry and others for more information. 

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