The term "White Space" is often misused; many believe that it refers to any space in a design that's white. White space actually refers to the "negative space" of a composition. It's not simply "blank" or "unused" space, it plays a key role in the design process.
Another crucial role white space plays is eye movement –commonly referred to simply as “movement”. White space allows our eyes to take a break, all while guiding them to the next point of interest. A page with very little white space doesn’t give its users time to slow down and reflect on individual pieces of content, often leaving readers frustrated and uninterested in pursuing more information. Additionally, a lack of white space often gives off the feeling of “cheap” or “amateur”. On the other hand, many upscale brands design with a heavy amount of white space which casts the emotion of “classy”, “elegant”, “luxury” etc.
Clients often struggle with their content; they want their users to know everything about their company, all in one composition. When a composition is oversaturated with content, the effectiveness of the ad or website begins to diminish (see tongue-in-cheek graph to the left):
Take the following ad into consideration:
A very simple composition using white space to generate interest and flow
And now, lets remove white space by adding more content and enlarging elements:
As we enlarge elements and add content, the composition starts to become overbearing.
So, what can you do to avoid overcrowding? How can you use white space to your advantage? While there’s no easy answer, I’ve come up with 3 tips to guide you in the right direction.
1. Rank pieces of content in order of importance:
This will help you distinguish mandatory content from important content and non-essential content.
2. Come to terms with your loss:
Know that by removing non-essential content, your essential content will get that much more attention from your viewers.
3. Consider sizing of various elements:
Arguably, one of the most frequent requests designers hear is “can you make the logo bigger?”
Ask yourself why you want your logo bigger. Remember, logos are not your only form of branding and there’s a myriad of more effective solutions to make your logo stand out more. Remember to tell your designer your problem; don’t provide them with a solution (e.g. “make the logo bigger”).
Ryan Martin lives in Sugar Land, TX where he’s the lead designer at eMUNICATIONS.com. With over 10 years of experience he’s worked with clients such as Visa, Pepsi and Cessna Aircraft Company.