Do you know there is a phobia called kenophobia, the fear of voids or empty spaces?

For designers, it is the fear of whitespace. People with this phobia tend to fill up every part of the canvas with unnecessary detail. This leaves no room for white space. You might even hear it from clients when they say something like “There is too much white space here, let’s add some elements”

This does not mean that you should add too much whitespace, but the right amount serves a vital role in your design. The right amount of white space can create a readable and enjoyable website experience. To understand how to use whitespace in web design, let’s talk about what it is first.

What is White Space in Web Design?

White space, in web design terms, is the empty parts of a canvas that are not occupied by any content. It’s important to have white space because it allows people to breathe and take breaks while they explore your website. Lack of whitespace can also be visually overwhelming for visitors and may cause anxiety which makes them feel like they need to click on everything at once just in case something interesting pops up.

The right amount of white spaces helps create a more readable experience for users when reading text online. It also allows you to highlight specific areas on a page and makes it easier for users to find what they’re looking for. There are many different ways to use white space in web design. For example, to create balance, contrast, and hierarchy. It can also be used to draw attention to certain elements on a page or draw attention away from others, or to guide the user’s attention to important information or calls to action (as in the case of negative space)

What are The Types of Whitespace?

Layout of white space on a sample page

Source: shopify

Active vs Passive:

Active whitespace is the space between elements that is intentionally left blank. This is usually done to create a certain aesthetic or to draw attention to a particular element on the page.

For example, a designer may use active whitespace to create a sense of balance on a page or to make an element stand out.

Passive whitespace is the space between elements that is not intentionally left blank. This is usually the result of the way the content is arranged on the page and is not something that the designer has control over.

For example, the space between paragraphs of text is typically passive whitespace.

Why is Whitespace Important in Web Design?

Whitespace is actually crucial in helping to create balance and visual stability in a design. The key is to find the right balance for your particular design. For example, too little whitespace can make a design feel cramped and cluttered, while too much can make it feel cold and impersonal.

Increases content legibility

A sample of good readability and positioning of the white space with relation to the text

White space can be used to highlight important content because it’s so sparse. This may include subheadings, captions on images or videos, and highlighted links as well. This is also a great way to draw the reader into an article by making what you want them to read stand out visually from everything else they might pass while browsing.

It can be used to highlight important points or call attention to key text that readers may want to remember or refer back to later in their research. This is also a great way to make your website stand out from the competition.

Highlights CTAs (Calls-To-Action)

If you want someone to click a button, link, or image on your site then using white space is a great way to make it more noticeable. By increasing the amount of space around the element you’re trying to get people to interact with, it will appear more important and stand out from everything else on the page.

You can also use white space to create a sense of urgency which can prompt visitors to take action before it’s too late. This is often used with time-sensitive offers or sales where people are encouraged to “act now” before the deal expires. One study found that increasing the padding around a CTA button by just 1px can increase click-through rates by 11%.

Comprehend Information

White space makes for easy comprehension

White space allows people’s brains and eyes time to rest while still being able to see information on the page they’re viewing without distraction or clutter. This gives the reader a chance to process the information and comprehend it before moving on.

This is important in web design to ensure that information and links are easy to read and understand. Proper white space allows viewers time both mentally and visually between chunks of content or offers them an opportunity to digest the information.

Visual Hierarchy

White space plays a big role in establishing visual hierarchy

White space also has a lot of psychological benefits. People tend to focus on what’s in front and above them, so spacing between blocks is important for creating a visual hierarchy. Hierarchy helps readers know where they should be looking at all times by giving more attention to certain content and less attention to other information that may not be as important.

White space helps you create a clear “map” on the page so that users can navigate with ease. Visual hierarchy is also crucial for communicating the level of importance and type of information that’s being conveyed on a website.

Balance

Macro and micro white space create balance and lets the content breathe

Source: uxspot

Balance is key when it comes to using white space. Too much space can make a website feel “empty” while too little space can make it feel cramped and busy. The best way to find the right balance is to experiment with different amounts of spacing until you find what looks best on your site.

Clarity

The use of white space is critical in bringing clarity to modern web designs

The way you use white space can also influence how clear your content is. For example, if you have a lot of small text blocks scattered around the page, it can be difficult for users to know where to focus their attention. On the other hand, if you use white space to create distinct sections on the page, it will be easier for users to find what they’re looking for.

This also allows readers to quickly scan a lot of text efficiently. Think about how your eyes naturally jump between lines while reading; it’s because white space enables this natural process! If you want someone who is skimming through content or trying to find something specific on a page – they’ll have an easier time finding what they’re looking for if the layout includes ample spacing.

What to Consider When Using White Space?

It is important to plan your white space before you start designing, so make sure you sketch it out on paper first! This will give you an important visual representation of how the white space will appear on the screen.

Early in a design project, do not be afraid to experiment with different levels of white space by adding new blocks or deleting others as you go along.

Some of the most important considerations when planning white space in web design are:

Headings and titles:

Good spacing tends to make scanning much more easier on the eyes

Make sure these are easy to find by using plenty of white space around them. Also, ensure there is enough contrast between the text and the background, and leave enough space around paragraphs for easy reading. The advantage of doing this is that it makes your content much more scannable.

Organize content

By adding white space around certain blocks of content, you can make it easier for users to find what they are looking for. This is especially useful on longer pages.

This will help break up your content and make it easier to read. By using white space around these elements, you can also draw attention to them. This makes your content more visually appealing.

Emphasis, Margins, highlighting, and focus

Good use of white space helps establish emphasis, margins, and spacing.

White space can be used to emphasize certain elements on your page. This is usually done by adding more space around the element in question.

We can add margins between different content and elements to help readers understand the page clearly. They can scan down to find their next paragraph while not feeling like they’re running out of breath.

Another way to use white space is to highlight or draw attention to specific content. This could be achieved by adding a border around it or increasing the padding.

You can also use white space to create a sense of focus. By isolating certain elements, you can make sure that readers know what they should be looking at.

Image placement

White space is crucial for image placement

Images take up valuable space that could be used for text or other content. We can place only necessary images on the website and free up white space to make the page more engaging.

Does not have to be white in color

This is a great example of why whitespace does not necessarily have to be white

The term “white space” is a bit misleading because the color doesn’t necessarily have to be white. It can be any color that provides enough contrast with the other colors on the page.

In fact, using a colored background can be a great way to add some style to your page while still making use of whitespace.

Letter and Paragraph Spacing

letter and paragraph spacing is vital to make the content easier to read

This is a simple way to add white space without adding any extra margins or padding on the sides of your text. Simply tighten up the letter spacing between each letter so there’s no room for letters. This leaves plenty of space in between sentences!

You’ll find that with this technique you have managed to create more breathing room while still being able to read everything at once. (This is also known as kerning).

Additionally, white space makes it easier to read large blocks of text and reduces eye strain. Use spacing between paragraphs to break ideas into smaller digestible information.

Alignment

Good white space helps keep everything in alignment.

White space also helps with alignment because clearly defined spaces can help organize content on a page. This not only looks cleaner but will be more readable as well.

By allowing for margins around images or graphics you create an illusion that things are spaced further apart than they are. The same technique works wonders for aligning columns so readers don’t get lost while reading through different levels of information.

Tips To Use Whitespace

Tip #01

Use margins and padding to create breathing room for your content.

Tip #02

Create a layout that centers around white space by using negative space wisely.

Tip #03

Add more or less text, images, etc., to add a variety of their size throughout the page.

Tip #04

Hide unnecessary parts of your webpage with CSS such as hiding navigation bars at different screen widths if they’re not needed on smaller screens.

Tip #05

Whitespace is also used in typography–for example, you can set the spacing between letters (tracking) and words (kerning).

 Tip #06

Spacing can also be used as a design element, whether it’s breathing room in your layout or using negative space to create white shapes.

Tip #07

White space is an opportunity for creativity–try adding textures and gradients that contrast with the colors of the text!

 Tip #08

White space is a design element, and like any other design elements should be used sparingly.”

Tip #09

Negative white space can help draw attention to an important part of the page or message you’re trying to convey.

Tip #10

  • The most important thing to remember when using white space is that less is more. You want to create a feeling of spaciousness without making things feel empty or unimportant. For example, an asymmetrical layout.

Prominent Examples

These are a few among many examples where whitespace has been used immaculately on great websites.

AirBnB

AirBnB website interface is a great example of the use of whitespace

The white space on AirBNB’s website iterates the message about how they can help the users. The design guides the focus towards the message.

Clear background and white accents help to give the text a complete focus. White space is used as it helps the reader target what they want which includes the message box design.

The message box has a white background so that the text stands out better.

Apple

apple website interface is a great example of the use of whitespace

Apple’s products are a work of art, which is exemplified in their use of white space. The visitor only has one focus at any given time as there are no distractions.

They also take advantage of contrasting colors from various areas such as backgrounds, messages, links, etc.

This makes it simple for readers to know what they’re looking at quickly without being distracted by other things around them.

Squarespace

squarespace website interface is a great example of the use of whitespace

Squarespace uses few UI elements on its homepage, but they are intuitive and comprehensive.

The large white space at the top of a web page draws attention to the value proposition and links. The next paragraph shows what is available in that menu bar, getting progressively narrower until it reaches the end with CTA on how to create a website.

A button for ‘Get Started’ greets visitors at the top right corner of this section as well.

Medium

Medium website interface is a great example of the use of whitespace

Medium utilizes the whitespace on its platform to compel readers to keep scrolling down the page. It does this by giving a sense of “social proof” or how many other people are reading a post, commented on it, and clapped for it.

The center column also presents an intriguing cover photo and title. This is designed to entice the reader to scroll further down.

Google

Google website interface is a great example of the use of whitespace

Google’s homepage is almost entirely white space, and its design has been highly effective. It is about as simple a design as you can get.

Users are immediately able to see the search bar and know where they need to go to find what they want.

The site also employs white space by using large fonts that help create a sense of simplicity. This allows users who scroll through different tabs or pages to not to feel overwhelmed with information on an already cluttered screen.

In addition, Google uses white space for its logos at the top left corner of their page so there isn’t anything distracting from them when scanning down the webpage list.

Challenges in using white space effectively

Conceptual

  • Achieve the right balance: Too much white space can make a design feel cold and uninviting. On the other hand, too little can make it feel cramped and cluttered.
  • Adaptability to digital formats. On screen, white space often appears as empty or wasted space. This can lead users to scroll past it without giving it a second thought.
  • Hierarchy: Finally, white space can be difficult to use when trying to create a hierarchy of information. It’s often hard to determine which elements should be given more prominence than others when there’s so much open space around them.

Practical

  • Designer vs Developer: A common problem is that the designer and developer have different perspectives on how the website should look, especially when it comes to the use of whitespace. It is important for the designer and developer to collaborate and discuss layout concepts/wireframes, plan out margins, highlight and emphasize padding, and line heights and all the other design details of your site to avoid any misunderstandings and confusion.
  • Folding: Often, whitespace is pushed out of a design because someone insists on adding as much content as possible. They insist on squeezing content into all effective space on the design. It is important to note that we don’t know where the fold falls on a viewer’s screen because we don’t know from where the user starts scrolling. Therefore, it is not worth it to worry about the fold.
  • Explaining designs: A design should be able to explain itself. It is important to be able to discuss and have a reason for everything in the design. If you can’t explain it, maybe it doesn’t need to be there. Sometimes, it may be hard to explain letting the design “breathe” to a client so that has to be explained in terms that they can understand.

Conclusion

White space is the space on a page that doesn’t have any design elements. It helps readers understand how content falls with each other or for one element of a layout to stand out more than others. We should use it when pictures and words are competing with each other for attention from viewers. It’s important not just because it will make everything look better but also because if you don’t give people enough room they might get overwhelmed by all the information at once.

Remember, at Pixel Street –Web Design Company we help our clients create websites that are up to date with the latest design trends. We also offer a free web consultation for you to find out more about designing your website – feel free to reach out if there’s anything we can do

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Khurshid Alam
Founder

Khurshid Alam is the founder of Pixel Street, a web design company. He aspires to solve business problems by communicating effectively digitally. In his leisure, he reads, writes, and occasionally plays a game of table tennis.