“Can you reduce the white space so that everything is above the fold?” If you are a designer, this kind of request probably sounds like nails on a chalkboard. Whitespace or “negative space” in web design has two camps – designers who swear by it, and the rest of the world who want to fill the space with as much information as possible. Whitespace is often seen as wasted real estate space, but on the contrary, whitespace is one of the most valuable assets on your website.
What is Whitespace?
First let’s define “whitespace”. When talking about whitespace, designers are referring to the negative space between the elements on the screen. Whitespace isn’t necessarily white, it can be a colour or a texture.
“Whitespace is like the supporting cast, whose duty it is to make the stars of the show stand out, by not standing out so much themselves.”Canvas Flip
There are two types of whitespace, macro whitespace which is the space between larger layout elements, and micro whitespace which is the space between smaller elements like words and letters or images and captions.
Readability and Priorities
Your content is the reason users are visiting your site. That’s why it’s so important to think about the site’s readability. It’s something whitespace can greatly improve. Something as simple as line spacing (the space between each line of a paragraph) can have a huge impact.
Enhance Usability and Content
In simple terms, having whitespace means your content is better highlighted. A cluttered page is not a pleasant experience for users, it’s overwhelming and uninviting. Studies have shown that the attention span of an Internet user is 6 seconds (that’s less than a goldfish, let that sink in…). Using whitespace helps users scan content, and quickly find the information they are looking for. Cluttering up a website with as much information as possible could ultimately discourage users from visiting a site again.
Elegant Design and Branding Positioning (a bonus)
Whitespace can also help elevate an elegant and sophisticated design. Consider the Apple website, they use an enormous amount of whitespace, and their products always shine. It makes you want to buy that brand new iPhone.
Whitespace isn’t a waste of space, on the contrary, it is a valuable design tool that used effectively can have an enormous impact on how your content is seen and consumed. Whitespace is your friend, embrace it.