Imagine a 16 x 16 px home icon that also has a 16 x 16 px active area. This little thing is prone to be missed upon activating (clicking or tapping) especially when laid out side by side with other active elements with similar dimensions.

See the Pen A Small Icon with a Small Active Area by Brian Dys Sahagun (@BrianSahagun) on CodePen.

Providing ample space around it away from other elements might lessen the chance of mistakenly activating something else but it won’t make it easier to hit. This is where Padding comes in.

Padding refers to increasing, at least to a minimum of 38 x 38 px the dimensions of the active area of an element. This technique prioritizes the usability of that active element in such a way that it is easily clicked by a pointing device or tapped by touch because of it’s big-enough area.

See the Pen A Small Icon with a 38 x 38 px Active Area by Brian Dys Sahagun (@BrianSahagun) on CodePen.

Padding: Responsive Wrap

A type of Padding wherein the active area, apart from having minimum dimensions, its size is being determined by its content. The active area at 38 px is wrapped around a content but if the content is bigger than the minimum of 38 px, the container will respond.


  • initial fixed height
  • width is determined by content and horizontal padding


<div class="axn_cr">
<a href="#">
<span class="label">Label</span>


display: inline-block;
padding-left: 1rem;
padding-right: 1rem;
height: 48px;
min-width: 48px;
box-sizing: border-box;

Related Terms

  • Activate
  • Active Area
  • Active ELement


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