We often have clients who feel uncomfortable with the amount of margin and padding we recommend between elements on a page. Product designer Patrick Condon, who works for Wayfair, has posted a nice article on Medium.com about the importance of white space. “More Padding, Please!” reassures the reader that white space — the space around and between elements in a layout — is a crucial tool for bringing clarity and balance to a layout.
“White space is not wasted space,” he writes. “There is a tendency for some of our stakeholders to fill white space with more content when it is not always necessary. Everyone has heard the saying ‘less is more’. This applies to content on any given page, where less visual noise makes for a better user experience.”
We think of white space as “empty,” but that doesn’t mean it has no content and should just be filled or erased. White space is actually a thing, not the absence of a thing. There’s white space between every word in this sentence, after all. If we filled or erased the space between words, it would be a lot more challenging to read.
Our clients often talk about content “above the fold” — meaning content you can see without scrolling. The fear is that, by using generous amounts of white space, a user will end up missing the content further down the page.
No worries, Condon promises. “Users will scroll and scroll some more. I promise you… Users have evolved and become more comfortable with scrolling. There are definitely certain elements that are best suited above the fold, but it’s important not to limit the use of white space to accommodate for the fold.”
Crowded content confuses and exhausts the eye. Our brains are looking for meaning, which we find through story. When we can’t identify the story, we click away.
In contrast, an open, inviting visual space invites the eye to go further. Our brains want to know more.
Apple.com has practically built its brand on the effectiveness of white space. Visit their website to see how much they trust the space between.
Then read “More Padding, Please!” and remember to use white space for pace!