The Gestalt psychologists of the early twentieth century were fascinated with the mind’s ability to see unified “wholes” from the sum of complex visual parts (“Gestalt” is German for “shape” or “whole shape”). Their research into the perception of visual patterns yielded a number of consistent principles that dominate human visual reasoning and pattern recognition, and these principles form the theoretical basis for much of modern graphic design. The following principles are those most relevant to web page design:
The “white space” between two visual elements forms a third visual element and becomes visually active as the elements come closer together. The well-known visual illusion below of gray “spots” appearing in the spaces between the dark squares shows the worst-case scenario for 1 + 1 = 3 effects, but this principle applies to all closely spaced elements in which the ground forms an active part of the overall design.