Whitespace – Room to Breathe
In an age where we continually absorb and are surrounded by information, it has become even more important for designers to make effective and intelligent use of ‘whitespace’; and be clear in how this information is presented for easy consumption.
‘Whitespace’ is not just an expression but also a tool. It opens up spaces around key elements to draw better focus. These elements could be anything from a key visual, a focal button on a web page or an important line in an article.
The importance of both whitespace and simplicity in a design or layout shouldn’t be underrated. Used effectively, they provide content prioritization, can enhance the performance of a website, and generally aid in the effective transmission of images and readability of text. It’s wise to recognise that simple layouts instead of complex, is the key to keeping your audience’s attention. Having a mess of elements, images, text and colours on a page can be more distracting and leave them disorientated. Many consider ‘whitespace’ as a waste of valuable estate, but we’d have to disagree. Whitespace creates balance and gives structure. Without it you have something that’s unconsidered.
A very basic but classic example of whitespace is Google…
It’s clear in its focus and purpose… to Search. No need to over complicate its design or cause needless distraction. Mark Boulton’s article offers a more in-depth look at whitespace, and in it he includes another great example of where whitespace not only enhances a design but also plays a role in its brand positioning.
Instantly you can see a distinct difference between the two, despite the fact that all the elements and content on both are the same. The difference is in the treatment of these elements and how each element is given space to breathe, rather than fighting for attention. Not only that but both designs convey opposing perspectives of the brand – “Less whitespace = cheap, more whitespace = luxury”. I always relate the use of whitespace with a quote by Abram Games – “Maximum meaning – minimum means” Their philosophies are the same – taking the key message of a design and communicating it in its most basic form. It’s a great reminder not to just fill a space because it’s available… Less is More.