The use of white space in design is often overlooked by people who aren’t designers by profession. Too often, people think of white space as empty or negative space, or even a waste of space. But when you effectively use white space in your designs, you’ll actually be making them more cohesive and visually appealing. When it comes to good designs, white space is anything but wasted space.
That's why in today’s blog post, we’re going over all the things you need to know about using white space in design if you’re a non-designer. Because sometimes, you just gotta DIY things. And that’s okay! But let’s make sure you have the knowledge and tools to do it right.
What is white space in design?
White space doesn't literally mean empty white space. It can be any color or texture, or even an image.
White space in design is the blank and negative spaces around, between, or inside design elements. It's an important design principle for organizing content and guiding attention. And it gives your design the breathing room necessary to make it visually appealing and easily consumable.
Designers use white space for padding and margins. Padding is the space that literally pads the inside of an element. And the space between elements is the margin. The margins then create the white space on the outside of the elements.
Macro vs. Micro White Space
Macro and micro are two distinct categories of white space that determine the look and flow of a design. They determine how you will perceive the content of the design.
Macro white space is the larger spacing that surrounds the core design elements like images and text. An example of macro white space in action is Google’s homepage.
Think of this as the “big picture” kind of white space. Macro is the padding and margins that help us to easily scan and understand what we’re looking at. And it draws our attention to the most important information on the page.
Micro white space is the smaller spacing between letters, lines, and paragraphs. In technical terms, this kind of spacing is also referred to as “leading” and “kerning.”
This kind of white space has a direct impact on content legibility and readability. Studies show that the micro white space between paragraphs can increase comprehension by almost 20%.
Active vs. Passive White Space
You can also categorize white space in design as being either active or passive.
Active white space enhances the structure of a design and acts as a guide for our eyes. This is the sort of spacing that you purposefully incorporate into your designs to emphasize specific items of importance. For example, those call-to-actions on your website pages are most effective when designed using active white space.
Passive white space can occur naturally and improves the aesthetics of your design. You'll find passive white space between things like letters and paragraphs. But even though this kind of space can happen on its own, you still need to be aware of how it affects the appearance of your designs overall.
Why using white space in design is important
White space in design is super important because it helps prevent information overload. It provides a visual break that makes it significantly easier for us to process the design. Using white space also increases readability, improves retention, and enhances the user experience. That’s why white space in website design, specifically, is a game-changer.
White space is a significant element in website design. And if used effectively, it can transform your website into a lead generation machine. Here’s exactly how:
The truth is people don’t like to read. They much prefer to scan things, especially on the internet.
Using white space allows you to direct those skimmers to the specific area you want them to see the most. That’s why breaking your design down into smaller chunks with white space will make your design more memorable and interactive.
More emphasis on your call-to-actions
Effective and intentionally used white space can draw the eyes toward your call-to-actions. You know, those big buttons that direct your website visitors to make a purchase?
White space can make things stand out! Those call-to-action buttons don’t actually need to be very big. If you surround them with the appropriate white space they’ll be just as noticeable and even more efficient at drawing attention from your dreamboat clients.
How to use white space in design
Using white space in design involves more than just keeping some parts of it blank. And when you inappropriately use white space, it will harm your design instead of helping it. Avoid this mistake by focusing on how using white space will create a better experience for the people viewing your design.
Keep these guidelines in mind when including white space in your designs:
Consistency is key
When white space is used inconsistently, your design will look sloppy and careless. Purposeful and consistent use of white space will make your design feel more cohesive and coherent.
Pay attention to your margins
White space should not look like wasted space. So make sure your margins are not too wide. But also make sure they’re not too narrow. Because a design without proper margins won’t look good either.
PRO TIP: Always start with too much! It’s way easier to take away white space than to add it in later. The best approach is to give your design too much at first and then remove it until you’re happy.
Don’t be afraid to use it
White space is an essential element of a good design. So don’t be afraid to use it! Because without any white space, your design will appear crowded and cluttered.
And if you’re ever feeling stuck or overwhelmed with the designs you’re trying to DIY? No worries, friend. We gotchu!
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