WHITE SPACE IN WEBSITES.

There are many aspects of good web design, typography, layout etc etc. but one of the simplest and most effective to implement is white space (sometimes written as whitespace) or if you like negative space.  This is essentially the space around an element, whether that is a text box, a photo or any other object, it is the spacing of gutters, margins and columns.  Of course it doesn't have to be white, it can be any colour you like as long as it is blank.

 

The problem with the implementation of white space exists primarily in the mind of a client, they see space and want to fill it with something, anything, and of course the client has the right to their opinion as they are the ones paying.  It is the duty of the designer to make clear the benefits of white space and how ultimately the person whose opinion matters the most is the visitor and therefore the clients potential customer, the design has to make it easy for the visitor to find the information they are looking for and to make them aware of any information that they may not know about.  So then what are the benefits of white space?

 

 

Enhancing Usability

Besides giving your site an elegant look and feel white space serves a much more important purpose, a very practical one at that: it enhances the sites usability.  Through the use of clever spacing of paragraphs and headings, with wider margins and increased padding a designer is able to increase reading comprehension by as much as 20% (Source) making for a better reading experience and easier to scan content.

 

When text is smashed together it creates an incomprehensible mish-mash of unreadable content which is quickly passed over by a site's visitors.  You might as well be writing in some form of ancient Egyptian.

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Prioritises Content

There has to be a hierarchy of elements on any web page.  The question is how to display certain, important, elements in a way that they catch the eye of the site visitor; quite simply to allow the element to somehow stand out.  This can be achieved elegantly through the use of white space, give the element enough room, away from other elements, and it will stand out, text the same size and colour as the rest of the body will still stand out if given enough space away from the rest, increase it's size or have a different font increases this even more; directing the site visitor from one important element to the next.

 

Gives a sense of Elegance

Just a quick look at adverts for luxury goods in a glossy magazine or web page will prove how white space can make pretty much any goods or service appear elegant and of high quality.  And the fact is that quality and credibility go hand in hand.  Giving an element room to breath gives it an air of sophistication.  In addition, the perception will be that a website with more white space is one whose content is more vital than it's screen space.

 

Highlights Call to Actions (CTAs)

The most obvious way that comes to mind to have visitor click on a button it is to make the button bigger or to go with a vivid colour, but a far more effective way is to increase the space around it so that it becomes clear to the visitor what needs to be done and gives them the room to do it, especially on a smaller mobile display.

 

 

There are many, many different methods to creating great web design and design itself is a very complex issue but the correct use of white space is one method which is not only simple but highly effective in working hard for the sake of the website owner and for the usability of the website.

 

Unfortunately it is one of the things sometimes forgotten by designers from their days during their design degrees, or simply when they are not able to explain the benefits of white space to their clients, which leads to some very uninspired, mundane and websites which are the reason for site visitors avoiding such websites.