The White Space Rule (Why White Space Is Important)

What do the most powerful brands have in common? Well, one thing is the use of the White Space Rule!

The White Space Rule is a design technique that ensures the use of enough blank or clean space on the canvas. So, white space isn’t necessarily white, but it’s the negative space between the layouts, between the lines of paragraphs, between the paragraphs, between the different UI elements, and so on.

As Wojciech Zielinski eloquently summarizes, ‘Whitespace is like air; it is necessary for design to breathe.”

White space design applies to both print and digital mediums. Think of Apple’s product packaging or Google’s homepage as quintessential examples. And while not all brands go as far as these examples in leveraging white space, utilizing this technique will benefit all brands and designs.

Apple and Google Website Homepages

Why? Because white space makes content consumable, communications digestible, and importantly, in turn, gets your target to take the desired action. As a result, using the White Space Rule as the cornerstone of your design will aid in branding, content, and marketing goals.

One challenge for agencies comes when they get content and comments from clients who don’t quite understand the white space strategy and want to fit every last bit of information on the page. Here are five points to remind yourself (and explain to others) why including adequate white space is so important.

White Space Helps:

1) Improve comprehension

When enough white space is used around a message or image you want to convey, this naturally aids in clarifying the message by differentiating that message from other elements on the page. In fact, according to a 2004 study referenced in Psychology of Web Design, when white space is incorporated, comprehension is boosted by 20%.

2) Enhance digestibility and consumption

Similarly, white space around content creates breathing space, making it easier for the reader to digest information. White Space can also help to group elements on the page, thereby helping the viewer understand what goes together, and what doesn’t. In a world all about content consumption, having digestible marketing materials is so important.

3) Get the message across faster

The average attention span of someone perusing your content on the internet today is less than seven seconds, so you need to make an impression and get the message out there—fast. White space aids in doing so by directing the reader’s eye to key points, instead of risking having that precious call-to-action getting lost in too much stimuli.

4) Support brand quality perceptions

There is micro white space, and there is macro white space. While micro white space helps organize a page, helping with the aforementioned points, macro white space can be used to enhance brand quality. A brand we all know that has this down is Apple. By using lots of white space around a large product image, Apple creates showcases for its product, thereby conveying a subconscious association that it’s a high-quality product.

Apple product packaging

5) Direct and drive the desired action

Marketing today is all about data and metrics. White space can be an important instrument in increasing conversions. When it’s used strategically with other design elements, white space can be used to direct the user’s navigation to the desired action. Additionally, it can be argued that white space also helps conversions indirectly by making communications materials easier to navigate and thus more consumable, increasing overall brand messaging impact.

There you have it. This is a KEY design technique that can make a huge impact across marketing objectives. When you use the White Space Rule, your designs will be stronger. And when you need to convince others why it’s necessary to keep things clean, you can use the above points to strengthen your argument.

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