Space…the final frontier. I’m not talking about outer space; I’m talking about white space. White space is usually a subject that is overlooked. In a world dominated by media, it seems that information is more important than the actual message. What are you trying to say? Is your message getting through the white noise to make a statement? Not to worry. White space can help you clear out the clutter to reach your target and build a foundation of good design aesthetics.
What is white space? It’s the unused space between text and graphic elements within a composition. Don’t be fooled by the word “unused.” In our minds, unused is synonymous with wasted. Not so. White space is strategically placed space. It’s the stealth bomber of the design world. You don’t have to fill up your website, newspaper article, or your magazine ad with a bunch of meaningless information to get your audience’s attention. Carefully placed text and imagery along with white space can help your message rise above your clutter-loving competition.
What does white space do? It attracts the viewer’s eyes. It makes the viewer focus on what you want them to see. It guides the viewer’s eyes. White space is the road map that guides the viewer through your composition. Imagine become given a choice between walking on smooth, paved road or an uphill obstacle course. Which one would you choose? Personally, I’d pick the paved road. White space or the lack of thereof, is the same. It can allow the viewer’s eyes to flow naturally over the page to copy and imagery that is skillfully placed, or its absence can create a visual gauntlet that knocks your audience out before you can even make your point.
White space keeps your readers engaged. We all get annoyed with long passages of text. Don’t you remember reading some big, over-sized book in high school? The Grapes of Wrath made my palms sweaty with page after page of endless text. I could see the words on the inside of my eyelids when I went to sleep. Should your audience feel that way about your website or magazine ad? No! White space brings balance and harmony, giving them a chance to relax and take in what you want them to see. With that said, white space acts as a separator. It signifies location, movement, important, and the relationship between objects. White space adds more impact to images and distinguishes headlines from body copy. It gives your message breathing room to have the voice it deserves.
The correct use of white space also gives off an elegant, professional appearance. Think about it. Do notice that high-end, expensive products use massive amounts of white space? They want you to focus on the product and only the product. One white space juggernaut that comes to mind is Apple. All of their ads contain an image of the latest, greatest creation and a few simple words. White space follows the adage that “less is more.” If you’re ever at the newsstand, take a minute to do a quick comparison. Compare the National Enquirer with Vogue. The National Enquirer is jammed full information from the celebrity cesspool while Vogue utilizes white space in articles and featured ads. Don’t get me wrong, white space isn’t just for expensive brands, but I think we can learn a lesson here. If you have a good product, you don’t have to oversell yourself with too much information. Say what you need to say. That’s it.
White space is often overlooked, but without it your message could be overlooked. It breathes life into your composition engages the viewer. Paired with strong copy and imagery, white space is a force to be reckoned with. Use it wisely and you’ll come out on top.
Take a look at the examples below. Which one uses white space appropriately?