By Bobby Beck
White space is a powerful tool for designers but it is also commonly misunderstood.
What is White Space?
White Space, sometimes referred to as Negative space, is the “unmarked space around or between the content of a design or image.” Essentially, it’s any space in a design between the elements (text, photos, etc.).
While it is often called white space, that doesn’t necessarily mean the space needs to be white, or even solid in color for that matter. It can contain gradients, patterns, or background objects.
It also doesn’t mean the design has to be limited in amount of content. Take for example the Old Spice web page above. There is quite a bit of content and design elements on this page but, despite all of that, there is still plenty of “white space” there. There is still room for the content to “breath”. If you’re unconvinced, take a look at the same page with the “white space” mocked up in white.
As you can see, a good use of white space does not have to limit the amount of content on the page.
Why it is Important
Now that we know what white space is, the question may come up “Why I should waste my valuable ad/web space on ‘nothing’?” While a valid question, White space should not be thought of as “unused” or “wasted” space. It is an important aspect of a design.
One of its primary benefits is that it improves readability. See the example below from Mark Boulton.
White space is also vital in creating a focal point. Allowing your message to be more easily seen, read and understood. It also helps create a look of value and sophistication. For instance this example, that has shown up on a few web sites, shows how white space can be used to create a look of high value.
Hopefully this has cleared up some misunderstanding of what white space is and the value it can lend to your design. You can always say what you need to and still have white space.