Do you think of design as the process of making something look pretty? If so, welcome to my office.
There is much more to design than making something look attractive. Design establishes hierarchy and facilitates the comprehension of content. Think about it–design is everywhere. It guides you on your commute. It navigates you through the apps on your cell phone. It lives on the paper cup that informs your coworkers you prefer Dunkin’s over Starbucks (gross, I know).
Designers use a multitude of strategies to create successful visual initiatives. They manipulate elements like color, typography, imagery, and spacing to create cohesive designs that promote an objective. However, one of the best tools a designer can use to increase attention, create focus, or even guide a user is implementing white space.
What is white space, you ask?
Ironically, white space is not always white. Nor does it always refer to spacing. White space can manifest in many different ways like scaling, patterns, and color. In its most basic form, the principle of white space refers to the padding that surrounds elements. When it is used effectively, it creates balance and harmony between components.
Why use white space?
It sounds simple, but when everything is important, nothing is important. By creating padding around elements, white space helps reduce the amount of work a user is asked to do when interacting with information. It can prioritize content, simplify a message, and create emphasis. White space gives a user time to breath. For example, think back to high school. Remember that feeling you had when you turned your chemistry textbook to a page spread with all text? That gut punch is white space, or lack thereof. Without white space, your users are drinking your content through a firehose. They are likely to get bored and move on, like you did with chemistry.
What are some other benefits of white space?
White space is not just about improving comprehension and aiding focus. It can help set the tone for your product or service. Look no further than Apple’s website. Notice how everything just feels so simple? They use white space on their site to promote a sense of sophistication and luxury. There is a subtle confidence achieved by how easy it is to navigate their content. There are no distractions. Every element has a purpose and allows the user to focus on their product’s premium design and quality. Next time you’re creating something, throw on your black turtleneck and take a bite out of Apple’s clean, minimalistic approach.
How do I get started with white space?
**Marie Kondo enters the chat** Ask yourself, what about your campaign, product, or service sparks the most joy for your customers? Think about white space as both a mentality and a tool. Strip away the unnecessary fluff that complicates the story and narrow down your messaging pillars to their most valuable components. The last step of your process should be creating the visual representation of your initiative. Use elements like spacing, padding, and scale to balance your proof points. Reminisce on your high school textbooks (sorry to bring you back again) and do the opposite. Keep your content light, effortless, and easy to digest. Your designs will be far more striking and your customers will appreciate the simplicity.