Whitesnake? Check. Awesome hair band.

Wite-out? Check. But who’s still buying this? No offense.

White wall tires? Check. They’ll be back soon enough.

But what is this white space everyone is talking about?

Oh, there’s some.

And there again.

What Is Whitespace?

When designers talk about white space, they actually mean negative space, the space between screen elements. It does not have to be white in color, but it mostly is. The space may be a color or texture but it is always a space within any design—newspaper, advertisement, website, application, magazine—that doesn’t contain any screen element and won’t attract the attention of the user or reader.

Active White Space

This is the space that you make a conscious effort to add to your design for emphasis and structure. It’s left out intentionally to give more focus to the content and to delimit one element from the other.

Passive White Space

This is the white space that occurs naturally, such as the area between words on a line or the

space surrounding a logo or graphic element.

Micro White Space

The small space between design elements is called micro whitespace. You can find it between lines and paragraphs. It includes the space between grid images that is used to separate menu links.

Micro white space has a direct impact on content legibility. For example, marginal white space surrounding paragraphs affects the user’s reading speed and comprehension. If the text appears in margins outside regular paragraphs, people read it more slowly. They find it harder to understand than text without such margins.

One of the features that has made e-readers so popular is that it empowers the user to adjust the whitespace and change the spacing between words to their specific tastes and needs.

picture of an ipad with image of a book in a book reader

Macro White Space

Macro white space is the large space between major layout elements and the space surrounding the design layout. You’ll find macro white space to the right and the left of most websites’ content and in the space between a website’s content blocks. Unlike micro white space, macro white space acts as a container of the overall design.

People get frustrated when information bombards them. White space calms us, and lets us mentally breathe.

White Space, What Is It Good For?

White space can transform a design and provide many advantages to your website. There is a need to develop and deliver layouts that are easy on the eyes and make people want to keep reading and stay engaged.

The difference between a good and average product lies in its design.

A good designer should be able to guide the users’ attention to the content and make the message stand out. Consider Apple’s branding and advertising. It utilizes large areas of white space to communicate a sense of simplicity and to reflect the user-friendliness of its products.

White Space is Calming (and helps a page load faster).

A cluttered design is like a cluttered desk. If a design is simple and clean, it will be attractive to most users. Cluttering your webpage with a lot of graphics and animations may look fancy but studies have shown that it can overwhelm a lot of users which may lead to them to never visiting your website again and it is also slower to load on a poor internet connection.

A great example that makes u white space intensively (and effectively) is the homepage of Google.com. Google’s iconic look is beautifully simple and has a calming effect. Because there’s no clutter, there’s less work for your eyes and mind. You can focus on what you came for—to search for something.

White Space, What Is It Good For?

White space can transform a design and provide many advantages to your website. There is a need to develop and deliver layouts that are easy on the eyes and make people want to keep reading and stay engaged.

The difference between a good and average product lies in its design.

A good designer should be able to guide the users’ attention to the content and make the message stand out. Consider Apple’s branding and advertising. It utilizes large areas of white space to communicate a sense of simplicity and to reflect the user-friendliness of its products.

White Space is Calming (and helps a page load faster).

A cluttered design is like a cluttered desk. If a design is simple and clean, it will be attractive to most users. Cluttering your webpage with a lot of graphics and animations may look fancy but studies have shown that it can overwhelm a lot of users which may lead to them to never visiting your website again and it is also slower to load on a poor internet connection.

A great example that makes u white space intensively (and effectively) is the homepage of Google.com. Google’s iconic look is beautifully simple and has a calming effect. Because there’s no clutter, there’s less work for your eyes and mind. You can focus on what you came for—to search for something.

 

It Improves Comprehension

Using white space evenly makes the content in the design easily scannable and significantly improves legibility. A study conducted indicates that proper use of white space between lines of paragraphs and its left and right margins can increase comprehension up to 20%. This is where micro whitespace helps.

It Sparks Our Imagination

When we see white space in a design, it allows our imagination to roam free, which results in a stronger emotional response. Our brains have an innate need to figure things out, which creates a sort of narrative between what you see and how you process it.

What your mind imprints onto that white space doesn’t actually matter; what matters is that thinking about it engages your mind. If you’re engaged, then you have a personal investment in the design. Having a personal investment in the design makes it more likely to create a good first impression.

It Implies Luxury

We associate a large amount of whitespace with luxury and sophistication, so using it effectively may be a way to bring these associations to your design.

Consider dining at a five-star restaurant versus a cheap family dinner. At a fancy restaurant, the food is arranged neatly on the plate with plenty of white spaces, while the family diner piles all the food onto one plate with little room for anything else.

It Adds Emphasis

Our brains tend to put emphasis and importance on design elements that are surrounded by white space. This is because the negative space is giving you visual clues about where you should be looking, providing plenty of buffer room around an element so that your brain can quickly process it.

This is why important design elements like logos are often surrounded by white space so that they are emphasized and clearly visible. Space helps keep your logo separate from other elements so that the viewer is drawn to your branding and doesn’t confuse it with other images.

It Increases Interaction Rates

The average attention span of an internet user is six seconds. An effective use of white space helps the design to get the message through to the user quickly and increase the probability of interaction by highlighting the “call-to-actions.”

It Guides the User

White spaces help users to make logical sense of the information presented to them. Margins and gutters between grids are some ways to handle logical grouping of layout elements. Spacing between the boxes clearly helps to create logical groups even without explicit mention.

The main goals of white space are to make the website look simple and uncluttered and to deliver information that our readers will enjoy and appreciate.

White space should not be considered merely “blank” space, it is the element of design that enables the objects on the page to exist. It is the space that balances things out and reminds us that designs are beautiful.

With offices in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, Ca., New Target provides digital strategy, digital marketing, web design, web development, branding, website hosting, and creative services for prominent nonprofits, companies, and government.