Proximity – what is it and how does it affect the look and flow of your creative projects?

Proximity means “How close things are together”. It implies the relationship of objects to each other, whether they are a headline and paragraph text or an image and a text block. Your brain interprets whether an object has a close relationship with another object by its proximity or closeness.

It’s mostly common sense. Titles should be close to their paragraphs, an image of a giraffe should be close to a paragraph about giraffes and not rhinos. However, designers also exploit proximity and “break the rules” by putting a lot of space between objects or rotating them.

If something about the way objects are relating on a page is bugging you and you can’t quick voice what it is, take a moment and look at their proximity to each other. Are they too close to each other? Too far away? Are some objects to close to the wrong things?

Another trick is to hold the design in front of a mirror.  You can also turn it upside down. If it is a color piece, copy or print it in black and white and then cover up parts of the design.  Feeling really brave and have a copy? Fold or cut up the copy and play with size and distance.

Taking a minute to ask yourself a few questions can quickly help you decide if your design has a proximity problem.  Now about those giraffes…