For the print industry, especially newspapers, whitespace or negative space is wasted space.
However, in web design, the use of empty space is one of the best practices to attract customers or audience.
Content is king but a crammed or cluttered space will look busy and difficult to read. The use of “blank” space can create a balance between the elements of design. It can also organize content better to improve the overall visual communication experience.
When you use up all the spaces in a page, your audience or customer gets frustrated and stressed out because you don’t give them time to “breathe” or calm down.
Contrary to its name, whitespace is not always necessarily white. It is the area or region between design elements. An empty space with any color is still a whitespace as long as it is free of any elements.
Elements of whitespace in the graphical user interface are:
You can find micro whitespaces between major composition elements like lines or paragraphs, and images or captions.
They directly affect the content legibility. The proper use of micro whitespaces can improve a user’s reading speed and comprehension by making the content clear and easy to read.
Macro whitespaces are the large spaces between major design elements such as a website’s margins or spaces at the right and left of a page. You can also find them in the spaces between web content blocks.
You can also consider whitespaces as active or passive.
Active whitespaces – spaces used to enhance the page structure and guide the user’s focus and attention through the content.
Passive whitespaces – spaces used to improve the visual quality of the layout without affecting the user’s reading flow or attention. They simply make content easier to read.
Using whitespaces effectively is the best approach for designing your web since it is focused on making your content enjoyable and readable.
Below are creative ways to use whitespace in your web design.
In the image above, whitespace is used to emphasize the product. Because all the other elements have been dominated by the product images in terms of size, color, and prominence.
By directing all the attention on your product, you ensure that the user won’t look anywhere else.
Crux Media uses whitespace effectively in highlighting their service by making their site’s layout look like a timeline in video editing.
Aside from giving the user a clear message, your site can also increase user engagement. The whitespaces plus relevant elements to emphasize your product or service will captivate your audience’s attention and compel them to stay or take a course of action.
Visual clutter is frustrating and increases stress. Some people might prefer multi-tasking but information overload can cause overheating to the brain. That’s why this is a big ‘no-no’, especially in digital media.
The brain processes everything in the human’s field of vision. So, if you have more tasks to handle or information to process, your brain will need more energy to do a lot of things at the same time. There is also a huge chance that you will get confused or lost. Thus, it is wiser to focus on one thing at a time. Doing so will make you efficient in making decisions and digesting information.
Keep in mind that whitespace is an empty space so:
Kickpush did a good job in keeping their layouts minimal. Their site’s layout will give a relaxing browsing experience to their users. Moreover, they can engage them effectively because they only use the most vital information and elements in their web pages.
Plus points to witty and intriguing messages! Your users also like to get information gradually. This gives them time to react and predict what’s next.
When you leave enough spaces between your content, it will look more elegant and clear.
It will also let your users’ eyes and brains rest and feel valued at the same time.
Below are some of the web pages that apply this technique.
The whitespaces on the web page above organize the information and direct the users’ attention to the vital parts of the content. If whitespaces weren’t used in the page properly, you will eventually know because you will get confused where to read first. Additionally, your attention will be restless.
The portfolio site above wisely uses whitespaces, a brief introduction of the service, and some interactive, minimal elements. Without any unnecessary objects, the users will get the message directly and react as soon as they get the message.
You can specifically study typography for web design here.
Are there any ways more effective than literally telling your users what your brand does?
No! Especially when your target audience has less than 8 seconds of attention span. Bronze Format lets their users instantly know what they are and what they offer.
This method is typically used in portfolio sites and other sites that want to showcase their work (or product) and services creatively. Users refer to a brand’s past or current works to know if they are credible and can deliver their needs. Especially when the brand is not too famous.
Like Iconwerk, you can use whitespace to effectively arrange your past and current works.
Whitespace will make your user consume the content or information in the proper order. It helps your user know what is important because there will be a proper hierarchy between elements.
If you are focused on turning visits to conversions, this is the right method for you.
Notice that Qravity and Mensch used whitespaces to draw attention to their CTA (Call to Action) buttons. After looking at the headline, users will move to the copy, then move on to the form or CTA.
Moreover, you should use less CTAs to avoid confusing your users. One to three CTAs are enough. Otherwise, your use of whitespace will be totally useless.
The best example for this is Facebook’s sign up page. If your forms are not designed properly, you might lose visitors even if they are interested in your brand.
By putting enough whitespace between your elements, users can fill up all the fields without getting confused.
Improving your website is a constant process that you should do regularly. The digital industry is the fastest changing industry in the world. It is a very tough battle out there. You need to effectively combine technical knowledge and creativity.
If you have any new ideas about the use of whitespace, please tell us in the comments section below.