Whitespace: empty space?
If you had read my previous article entitled “Whitespace: what’s that?“, you should now have quite a good grasp of why it is worthwhile to learn how to use whitespace appropriately in our designs.
In this article, I would like to bring up and analyze a common misunderstanding about whitespace. It is quite usual, in fact, to think that whitespace is just an empty space that needs to be filled as much as possible. This misconception is very recurrent among clients and, unfortunately, among designers too.
It’s now time to raise a red flag and start to think of whitespace as a real element, that deserves its own space in the design as much as the other layout elements.
I believe this misconception finds its roots in print design. Most of the times, companies invest loads of money to promote their products or services by purchasing advertising space on different media.
Costs often depend on the size of the advertisement.
Highly visible adverts, such as street hoardings, can be much more expensive than a poster, and a full page advert on a magazine is definitely going to be pricier than a small banner on the side.
The bigger the space, the higher the price. It is that simple!
Advertising space costs the buyer an arm and a leg. We shouldn’t be surprised then, if the tendency is to fill it as much as possible.
Nevertheless, what we should consider is that, when advertising, we do not really pay for space. We do pay to communicate a message. Stuffing any kind of space (being it a poster, a billboard, a page of a website or any other media) with too much information, won’t help in any way the effectiveness of the message. The only result would be a cluttered and messy message, that will not keep the audience’s attention for long.
More is not always better!
I guess we all have come across those websites that use all inches of their layout space by filling it with graphics, blocks of text, images and never-ending list of links. Such overloading of both visual and textual information is in the least a good idea. It will only jeopardize the website’s credibility and make the communication highly ineffective.
In fact, it doesn’t matter whether the information is genuine or not. If you come across a sloppy and confused message, you just get frustrated and will ignore it, moving your focus right away to something else!
Let’s repeat all together guys! “Whitespace is not just empty space!”
It is a necessary layout component that has the power to make your message look more professional, legible and attractive.
In fact, Psychology Studies on Human Interaction has proved that whitespace can increase comprehension by almost 20%. This is because it enables effective scanning and skimming of content and because it communicates what is important, what is related and what needs attention, by leading the eye across the page to the most important elements.
Designers must be aware of all that and should use whitespace intelligently. Besides, they should also introduce their clients to its importance, showing them how much whitespace can affect the balance and harmony of a design and its communicative power. Tidy, eye-pleasing and easy-to-read visual information will attract visitors’ attention, strengthening and magnifying the message effectiveness.
Using whitespace cleverly and consciously will make your website successful!