Basically, whitespace, at its most basic definition, is the space around and between all the elements of a composition that is left unmarked. It’s not just a waste of screen space, as most websites owners think. When used well, whitespaces can actually provide benefits to better promote a product. It is an important key to creating good design and it makes a website better in every way.
Although the name whitespace implies that the space is white, it doesn’t always have to be literally white. Whitespace can actually be any color—It can even have a subtle pattern or texture. It’s an area that you don’t want the eye to focus on. Alternatively, it’s called a negative space.
So, why does whitespace matter?
Reason #1: Improves readability
Whitespace between baselines and paragraphs actually help people comfortably read all of the content on the site. Adjusting small details of your site (like line-spacing/leading or the letter-spacing) could make a huge difference in make reading easier.
The goal is to make people want to keep reading by designing layouts that are easy on the eyes.
Reason #2: Speeds up interaction
Let’s be honest: most of your visitors won’t have enough patience to look thoroughly when browsing through websites. When a website looks cluttered, it keeps users distracted from finding what they are looking for.
Whitespaces should help lead the viewer around the page. Less elements competing for attention plus proper use of whitespaces can prevent distractions that slows visitors down.
Reason #3: Drive attention to the right elements
Whitespace can give users visual cues on where they should be looking. When used in a correct manner, whitespaces help emphasize information and draw attention to a particular area on you website.
Remember, if everything stands out, nothing does.
Reason #4: First impressions matter
The look and feel of a website is the main key to good first impressions. Good first impressions often leads to longer visit duration. Too little whitespace can make your website look cheap and unreliable. Visitors won’t think the site or the brand is credible unless it looks attractive. Having a good amount of whitespace helps create the right tone for your website. Whitespace can be a way to communicate ingenuity, freshness, and sometimes, elegance.
Tip: Here’s an idea on how to make your web design simple and familiar.
Reason #5: Helps create breathing room and balance
A balanced design doesn’t mean symmetrical. A large design element can be balanced by a few smaller once. Adding whitespace is a great way to balance different-sized design elements on your page. Create a flow so the users eyes won’t dart all over the place. A good design should be able to guide the user from one point to another without confusing the visitor.
Next time you visit a website and find yourself staying a while, think about what made you stay and read. Do you think the line-spacing makes an article easier to read? Does the experience make you want to keep coming back for more? Did you have a hard time looking for the navigation?
Take note of the good application of whitespace on the website. If you think it can also work in your website, learn to apply and manage how much space you should allocate on your element until you think you’ve conveyed the right tone and readability without sacrificing the “flow” you want for your website.
The ultimate goal of any website is communication. Visual appeal goes hand in hand with the success of your website.