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An Introduction to White Space & Why It’s Important

White space is one of the most fundamental building blocks for an effective email, blog or webpage. However it is also one of the most commonly overlooked.

As the name suggests, white space is the white space on your page. More specifically, it is how that white space is used to shape and direct your audience. Imagine your webpage as an artist does their blank canvas. If random colour was just thrown on the canvas in no meaningful way, then it would be difficult for the view to discern the meaning. The same applies for website designs.

According to Hubspot White Space is defined as:
"Negative areas in any composition. It's the unmarked distance between different elements that gives viewers some visual breaks when they process design, minimizing distractions and making it easier to focus."


In any form of digital marketing, if Content is King then White Space is Queen. All too often people who have little to no background in creating effective website layouts tend to cram information into unorganised and non-meaningful ways. As a result, visually crammed data is difficult to absorb causing disengagement with your audience.

For example, let's take a look at the images beneath.


Which ones are more likely to catch and hold your attention?


Image Source: Mark Boulton

And for this case, which one are you more likely to read?

You would conclude that both these examples have the same content but the one on the left is more cramped compared the one on the right. And you'd be more inclined to engage with the content on the right. This is because of its effective use of 'white space'.

You would conclude that both these examples have the same content but the one on the left is more cramped compared the one on the right. And you'd be more inclined to engage with the content on the right. This is because of its effective use of 'white space'. 


Benefits of White Space 

1. Improves content legibility and comprehension: Too much clutter will create disengagement and confusion with what the actual message being communicated is. You'll scare off the reader or customer before you even get to talk to them.

2. Highlights Call-to-Action: Web designers and marketers understand that CTA buttons are important for converting potential customers into leads. The right design and amount of white space around it will create a focus point, enticing users to click it.

3. Aesthetic Value: Website designs with visual impact will increase the likelihood the user will stay on the website for longer in addition to increasing its perceived legitimacy.

4. Enhanced User navigation and experience: When considering the white space of a page, irrelevant information is removed, and the more important elements are emphasised. This creates clear navigational flow on your website, increasing the ease of use and thus the user experience. 


What can you do?

In many cases, less is more. Having more white space places emphasis on the user experience and what is important on the page. It also means that your design needs to be direct and communicates the most information in the least amount of text, colours and shapes. If you are still having trouble wrapping your head around it put yourself in the shoes of your target audience and imagine if what they are seeing on the page is appealing enough to read and maintain their attention.

Some ways you can experiment and control the white spaces on your webpage are through:

  • Margins
  • Gutters
  • Padding
  • Spacing
  • Kerning
  • Line-height
  • Word size, colour and font
It is effectively utilising a combination of these factors which can potentially make your content impactful.


Do it yourself!

A report by the Washington State University found that advertising students that lacked the basic knowledge about design formatting but learned art fundamentals such white spacing, by the end of their semester created well designed adverts (Feasley, 1983).

White space is a valuable design tool for any online designer's or marketer's toolkit. Now that you've gotten down the basics of white space it is time for you to try it yourself!

Experiment with the different elements above and have people test it to see if it is effective in communicating the most amount of information with the least amount of content.


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Tuesday, 22 October 2019