Less is More: The Crucial Role of White Space in Web Design

We’ve had the opportunity to work on some great web design projects. From the offset, our workshops overflow with creative ideas. Most of the time, these concepts don’t make the final cut. Why?

The answer is quite simple. It’s intentional. As attractive and useful as some of these elements might be, essentially, a decision is made that the user experience will be better without them. We believe that less is more; that in order to be both effective and aesthetically pleasing, every site should have a certain amount of ‘white space’.

Often referred to as ‘negative space’, white space allows the content on your site to breathe. Although the name suggests otherwise, this space doesn’t necessarily have to be a white. It is just the empty space around the elements on each page.

Padding, margins and even the spacing between letters and paragraphs – these all have the same basic function. White space is a fundamental building block of effective design and we’re definitely not alone – take a look at search engine powerhouse Google’s landing page as a prime example!

Make a first impression

There are few things that can frustrate visitors more than a website that is cluttered, overwhelming and hard to read. One look, and they’ll immediately wonder whether or not trying to navigate such a mess would even be worth their time. New users to your site decide whether to stay or to go in just 1/10 of a second, so utilising white space to guarantee a sophisticated, harmonious and professional look is key.

Create a smooth and intuitive user experience

White space is a great design element to influence and naturally direct your visitor’s eyes to exactly where you want them to look next. On average, users only read 28% of words on a given page per visit, so allowing them to take in the crux of your information at their own pace, without feeling bombarded is essential. By making your web design more readable, legible and easy to follow, there is a much greater chance that they will go from A to B without being distracted or leaving your website altogether.

Let important elements take centre stage

A natural consequence of adding everything to your page is that nothing will stand out. It’s important to make ruthless decisions about the priority of your content; to know when enough is enough to make your user’s experience a positive one. Key information, call-to-action buttons and other crucial aspects need space to be effective. Ensure that any essential elements can breathe within the correct amount of white space though, and they’ll catch your reader’s eye at first glance.

It is important to note, however, that balance is fundamental. Whilst too little white space makes your website a confused mess, going too far towards the opposite end of the spectrum can be equally as harmful. A website that is lacking in content can leave users feeling lost.

At the end of the day, a user visits your site for one reason, to gain information quickly and without fuss. Consider this above all else, and you’ll be on the right track.

Mark Warman - Founder & Digital Consultant Administrator

With a background in design, technology and user experience, I help businesses adapt. Adapt to the changing needs and expectations of their digital audiences.